Zach Coffing recently finished a more-than-stellar athletic career at Newark High, finishing with an astonishing 21 varsity letters while often competing in two sports per season during his four years.
Four of those letters were earned in his favorite sport – swimming. Zach’s love for the sport developed as a youngster during the summer months when he competed in the Suburban Swim League.
This summer, Zach is in charge of his own team in that same league, as the head coach at Persimmon Creek Swim Club.
“I have always loved being a part of summer swimming as a swimmer and an assistant coach,” he said. “And I wanted to follow in the footsteps of all of my siblings being head coaches.”
Last summer Zach not only swam for the Oaklands Swim Club, but also assisted the head coach, his sister Zoe.
“My sister has been a huge influence to me both as a swimmer and a coach,” Zach shared. “She has helped me think about swimming from a different perspective and it has helped me become a much better coach.”
Coaching is in his genes. Zach, the youngest of four, is now the fourth and final Coffing sibling to serve as a head coach in the popular summer league. Tyler, the oldest, is a former head coach at Nottingham. Zoe is in her fourth year at Oaklands and Nathan is in his second year at Drummond Hill.
“It’s been really great to see Zach grow as a person and coach during his first year as a head coach,” Zoe said. “He has so much talent, and it’s amazing to see him share his knowledge with his team.”
It didn’t take long for Zach to pick up his first win as a head coach. After a “crossover” meet to start the season, Persimmon Creek defeated Western YMCA in the first official league meet on June 19.
“Getting that first win was a huge sigh of relief,” Zach recalled. “Coming into the season, I felt as if the team had high potential and with that, I wanted to have big expectations for the team and myself as a coach.”
Persimmon finished the season with a 5-3 record, and Zach admitted that he learned a great deal along the way.
“I got much more comfortable and I started to have much more faith in what I and the rest of my coaching staff were trying to achieve,” he explained.
As the season unfolded, it also presented its fair share of challenges to the rookie head coach.
“[I realized that] how much my mood or the way I presented certain things impacted how the kids would think about it,” Zach said. “If I wasn’t going to be excited about a meet, the kids wouldn’t be either.”
With his first season as a head coach now under his belt, Zach said that his gratification extended beyond the team’s winning record.
“I have enjoyed being able to use what I have learned from my past head coaches and apply it to the younger swimmers and coaches,” said Zach, who will attend the University of Delaware in the fall and majoring in communication and journalism. “Being able to see a kid or coach finally understand what we have been trying to teach them is a feeling I cannot describe.”
Regardless of what the future holds for Zach as a swimming head coach, as he prepares to head to college, he will do so hoping the kids who swam under him during his first year as a head coach enjoyed the experience.
“I hope all the kids have as much fun as I did growing up in the Suburban Swim League,” he said. “This league can create an environment like no either and I hope these kids get the most out of it.”