Haines Dolphins say goodbye to coaches at season finale


The Haines Dolphins held their own version of a graduation earlier this month, with departing coaches Robert Butker and Diana Mallory providing inspirational words during a season-ending potluck at Tlingit Park.

“The best swimmers I’ve ever known were not necessarily the naturally gifted ones, but the ones who worked the hardest at it,” Butker said. “Those people tended to be better people, in general. We’ve got a lot of good people on this team.”

Butker, the Dolphins’ head coach since 2012, gave notice for a move to Oregon, and Mallory plans to leave town to study marine biology.

Mallory said a trip to Petersburg for a meet was a highlight this season.

“You guys have been absolutely amazing, life-changing,” she said. “I’ve loved getting to know each and every one of you, and every personality.”

The May 3 potluck also served as an awards ceremony, with honors going to Hayden Jimenez, Most Spirited; Madeline Andriesen, Team Leadership; Kamakana Kanahele, Sportsmanship; Dylan Chapell, Most Improved Male; Lydia Andriesen, Most Improved Female; and Skye Posey, Iron Dolphin.

Butker credited Madeline Andriesen for taking on daunting events such as the 400 butterfly, and said Posey’s Iron Dolphin honor showed she displayed “all the characteristics of every (other) award we just gave out.”

Posey, 14, showed her versatility at the team’s final season competition, the Yukon Champs meet in Whitehorse at the end of April. She powered through a range of events including the 100, 200 and 400-meter freestyle and the 100 and 200-meter backstroke.

The coaches also distributed certificates and medals to all swimmers. The team had about 25 members this season.

In his closing remarks, Butker said the Dolphins were “among the luckiest group of athletes I’ve ever worked with in regards to your parents’ involvement.” Parent efforts included “a lot of driving back and forth,” repetitive laundry, and “buying you seemingly endless pairs of goggles.”

Butker told the Dolphins to embrace the ways in which they are “weird,” going above and beyond normal expectations of an athletic team. For example, he said, team members interact well across age groups; juggle multiple other activities; endure a nearly nine-month swimming season; and do it all with “not a lot of drama.”

In an interview following the awards presentation, Dolphins board president Jim Green said the teams’ coaching staff has been “unbeatable.” Coaches Butker, Mallory and Marian Carlson teach swimmers more than just the technical aspects, but “let them have fun, also,” he said. And while other teams might have tryouts to pare down participation, the Dolphins take all-comers.

“Not all the kids are here to go to the Olympics,” Green said. “We cater to any level of kid. Robert’s got the right mix.”

Kanahele, 14, the team’s Sportsmanship honoree, echoed Green’s statement.

“They are the best coaches I’ve ever had,” Kanahele said. “I’d never let them go, especially in your heart.”

Green said one of the challenges for retaining coaches is the “part-time hours and part-time pay, but full-time involvement.” Volunteers help keep the team going, he added.

Board member James Alborough encouraged parents of younger swimmers to join the board. The Dolphins are currently also seeking applicants for head coach and assistant coach positions.

The head coach opening is advertised as approximately 20 hours per week from early September to the end of April. The board prefers American Swimming Coaches Association certification and notes the Dolphins swim “for competition, for fitness, or just for fun.”

“The ideal candidate will have the energy and enthusiasm to inspire a strong work ethic in our swimmers, focusing on technique as well as enjoyment of the sport,” the job posting says. “We are seeking someone who is committed to sharing and growing with our swimming family.”

The application deadline is June 19. More information is available at http://www.hainesdolphins.org.


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