BROOKVILLE — It’s the third different head coach in as many years for the Brookville Area High School swimming team, but the turnover isn’t quite as dramatic as that statistic suggests.
Ray Doolittle, an assistant last year under Jaren Ananea, takes over the program as head coach. He’s been a familiar face in the program through the years, helping with the YMCA program and an endurance athlete.
A 1986 BAHS graduate, Doolittle has been a guidance counselor at the school for the past 16 years after working at Clarion-Limestone where also coached cross country. He has 30 swimmers on the team — 19 girls, 11 boys — which is a slight dip from last year.
But the roster on both sides has returning experience bolstered by some freshmen with strong YMCA program resumes.
Either way, Doolittle has already enjoyed working with all of his swimmers with the season-opening meet set at Oil City Friday.
“There are 30 individual goals, and for every single one, I hope that they fall in love with the sport and I hope that they all improve,” said Doolittle, who has his sons on the roster, senior Luc and sophomore Calvin. “Those are the main goals. I do think that both boys and girls can be competitive against some of the teams we run up against. But my main goal is to talk with the kids about what have you achieved in the past, what do you hope to achieve and let’s do everything we can to get you to get you to that benchmark.”
Last year, the boys were 4-6 in dual meets and finished third at districts. Senior Donavan Hoffman was third in the 100-yard breaststroke and seventh in the 200 individual medley while Calvin Doolittle was third in the 100 butterfly and fifth in the 200 freestyle. Those two made up half of the third-place 200 freestyle relay.
From there, he’ll look to seniors Luc Doolittle and Blake Saunders, sophomore Bay Harper and YMCA state qualifier Brody Barto, a freshman, to fill out his relays. Luc Doolittle will specialize in the 200 and 500 freestyle — he was ninth and eighth respectively at districts last year — while Saunders will likely concentrate in the individual medley.
Harper, sixth at districts in the 100 breastroke, will swim the breaststroke and freestyle with Barto giving the team depth in every stroke with his best event likely the 200 individual medley.
Other Raiders in the lineup will be sophomore Shawn Foster (butterfly, backstroke), and freshmen Christian Ganoe, Hunter Rupp (freestyle), Ian Stancliffe (freestyle, breaststroke) and Gideon Waterbury (freestyle, backstroke).
Coach Doolittle thinks his boys’ medley relay could be the team’s best of the three relays, although finding the best combination will be the key.
“There are some good combinations we could put together, but right now, we’re probably lacking the most in terms of somebody who just a boy who absolutely loves backstroke,” Doolittle said.
For the Lady Raiders, junior Emma Fiscus was third in the 100 butterfly and fourth in the 200 individual medley. Sophomore Sadie Shofestall was fourth in the 100 breaststroke and fifth in the 50 freestyle while sophomore Emma Afton turned in the other top-six individual finish with a sixth in the 100 butterfly.
Those are the returning high placewinners, but with 19 on the roster, the Lady Raiders have others back with district experience along with the influx of freshmen talent.
“We have some very good veteran girls,” Doolittle said. “We have enough numbers to fill in all the lanes with some quality girls. And we also have some new girls coming up from YMCA that that are strong.”
Five seniors are on the roster with Kara Foster (500 freestyle), Sydney Barto (500 freestyle), Lakota Dunn (backstroke, 50 freestyle), Jensen Diedrich (50 freestyle) and Dani Maring (freestyle).
Audrey Park (freestyle) and Fiscus are the lone juniors while Shofestall (freestyle, breastroke), Afton (individual medley, all strokes), Chloe Smith (200, 500 freestyles) and Kayleigh Rhodes (100, 200 freestyles) are the sophomores.
Freshmen Grace Matson and Maddy Golier were YMCA state qualifiers with Matson specializing in the 50 freestyle, backstroke and breaststroke, and Golier giving the team versatile quality depth in all four strokes. Grace Park (butterfly), Emma Reynolds (freestyle), Taryn Hoffman (breaststroke, freestyle), Kendra Himes (freestyle) and Audrey Barrett (100, 200 freestyle) all looking to contribute in their rookie year.
Doolittle likes the potential throughout both rosters.
“It’s actually probably more than 30 goals because every kid is swimming four different events and every single kid wants to improve,” he said. “It doesn’t always happen every race, but every kid who hits the wall looks up at that clock, and they want to see a better time than what they’ve ever swam before.
“I try to communicate to the kids that there’s an element of suffering through practice and I tell them ‘Here’s what I want to protect you against. I want to protect you against that sick feeling in your stomach whenever you’ve raced as hard as you can race, and you look up at the clock and you’re disappointed.’ That’s why we push through the tough times in practice so that when they look up at that clock at the end of a race or at the district meet or whatever that when they see that time, they’re just blown away by that. That is awesome.”
Doolittle’s coaching staff consists of Jill Northey and his wife Sharon Doolittle, with contributions at times from volunteer assistants Ananea and Justin Ransel.
The team won’t have a diver on the roster this year.
The team’s first home meet at Hickory Grove Elementary School Natatorium is next Tuesday against state power Clearfield.
Seniors: Donavan Hoffman, Luc Doolittle, Blake Saunders.
Sophomores: Bay Harper, Shawn Foster, Calvin Doolittle.
Freshmen: Brody Barto, Christian Ganoe, Hunter Rupp, Ian Stancliffe, Gideon Waterbury
Seniors: Kara Foster, Sydney Barto, Lakota Dunn, Jensen Diedrich, Dani Maring.
Juniors: Audrey Park, Emma Fiscus.
Sophomores: Julia Bailey, Sadie Shofestall, Emma Afton, Chloe Smith, Kayleigh Rhodes.
Freshmen: Grace Park, Emma Reynolds, Taryn Hoffman, Audrey Barrett, Grace Matson, Kendra Himes, Maddy Golier.
6-at Oil City
11-at Clearfield Invitational, 11 a.m.
30-at St. Marys
Meets begin at 6 p.m.