New swimming coach building Farmington’s culture and dreaming bigJan 04, 2021 10:38AM ● By Catherine Garrett
FARMINGTON—New Farmington High swimming coach Jason Clark has big dreams – including to win state by 2023 – and he is bringing leadership principles from his culture consulting company, “Thank Your People,” to the Phoenix program to help his swimmers get there.
“I couldn’t be more excited,” Clark said of the opportunity that came about in late summer. “I seriously am so stoked to be the coach of this team. It's been quite the journey to get to this point in my life and if it weren't for the pandemic, I'd still be in St. George (growing another company). There are no coincidences. These are legendary kids and truly next level people.”
Clark has instilled a theme for his team to focus on each month to help each swimmer individually and collectively. He gave his swimmers a personality test and divided the squad into five sections – with student captains and coaches-in-training – who all strive to be the difference-making team of the week while also participating in specialized workouts.
“I wanted each person to feel like they were connected to a team and, with a team of 55, it’s sometimes easy for someone to fall between the cracks or feel left out,” Clark said. “Building great teams is one of my strengths so I really spent a lot of the first month’s time and energy making sure the teams were as close to perfect as possible which, after a few versions, we now feel like each team is a dream team.”
The “Sea Monkeyzz” are captained by Mairyn Romney with coaches-in-training Colby Connover and Keaton Dunford; “Basically” is led by James Taggart along with Garrett Lines, Mason Drexler and Maddie Peterson; the “O.G. Olympians” by Kaitlyn Holladay and John Lyman and Henry Forseth; “Clownfish” by Maddie Nacey along with Ada Stewart and Luke Erickson; and “FCA” by M’li Brook and PJ Norseth, Lina Dunn and Dixon Call.
From Clark’s background in BYU-Idaho’s pilot “Learning Model” program came the belief that “the best way to learn is to teach.” “That’s the way I am hoping we can help make them better swimmers than they already are and that’s how I have structured this program,” he said. “It’s been so amazing to watch some of these kids’ growth and development. It’s been inspiring to see them have to learn and grow and come together as teams both in practice and then in our weekly competitions in and out of the pool.”
Clark is being assisted by Ashley Collins on the Farmington coaching staff while McKay King coaches many of the team’s elite swimmers on the Tsunami Club team.
“McKay is one of the most underrated gifts I’ve been given so far,” Clark said. “The guy is an absolute legend of a person but, holy smokes, he knows how to coach swimming to high school kids. His practices are an art in its truest form. I’ll stay after on occasion and just watch and learn from this Mr. Miyagi-level master of swimming. He has been nothing but kind and generous with his time.”
Clark also credits coach Lou Peterson for her expertise and invaluable mentoring. “She has specifically taken me under her wing and patiently helped me learn this new language of life known as coaching a high school sports team,” Clark said. “She has been so selfless with her time and expertise, including spending time with our team during the Davis District meet in teaching some of our swimmers how to improve their dives. I was so grateful and the kids now have so much better starts than they did thanks to her.”
Clark said the team is really “starting to get in a flow” as the season progresses. “What’s amazing about this is that it’s almost all being led by their fellow teammates,” he said. “My hope was that as they taught, coached, and help lead the other swimmers, they would gain more confidence and swim harder and better. There is just something special and magical happening with this team.”
“We have a big dream to make a real difference in this community and this world this year by doing a lot of good in and out of the pool and also living gratefully,” Clark said. “It’s so easy to complain about our current circumstances. The power that comes from dreaming big, doing good, and living gratefully is truly how I believe we as a people will get through this kinda hard and uncertain COVID adventure.”
The other big dream Clark has is helping Farmington get its own pool as currently five high schools share one facility. “It would be amazing and just needs to happen to benefit this program and community,” he said. “I’m all-in with my heart and focus to make this happen by 2023.”