Quite literally, things are looking up for the Fountain-Fort Carson boys’ swimming and diving program.
Looking up because there’s a reason to do so.
Diving made its return to the Trojans’ program Tuesday when freshman Mishka Neville took his spot in school history. But he couldn’t have done it without help from a fellow F-FC graduate.
Tristan Riffe just didn’t want Neville and future Trojans divers to share his plight. That’s why he agreed to coach the diving team on a volunteer basis this season.
“We didn’t have a diving coach my senior year, so I didn’t get to dive,” said Riffe, who walked across the stage last spring. “I can’t coach myself. I could have gone to another school, but that would have ruined the purpose of trying to leave a legacy. I just had to stop. Later on, I found out there was interest in diving but there still wasn’t a coach. I said I’d do it.”
So, before he heads off to Colorado Mesa University in the summer to start his journey toward a degree in journalism, Riffe hopes to leave a different kind of legacy at his alma mater, one that’ll keep the Trojans competing in all 12 events.
So far, so good.
“Diving makes a difference, but it’s not my forte,” said second-year Trojans coach Duffy Dillon. “Tristan was still in town and wondered if anyone had expressed an interest in diving. I said we did but we didn’t have anyone to coach. He said he’d do it as a volunteer, and we had it approved. Now, we have a 19-year-old guy, fresh out of high school leading the program and he’s doing an amazing job.”
As a junior, Riffe placed second at the CSML championships to teammate Kyle Fowler. Both qualified for the 5A state meet.
The previous four years, F-FC had representation at state from Collin O’Connor, who placed as high as 10th in 2015.
“I just remember how terrible it felt not to dive my senior year,” Riffe said. “I was really excited to get started and nervous at first as I got to know the new divers and learning how they learn best.”
In two weeks, he got Neville ready to compete in a varsity meet. Two or three more divers are projected to compete in events once their six dives are up to speed.
“I think he (Mishka) did really well for his first dive meet,” Riffe said. “He didn’t let his nerves get the best of him, and he stayed calm, which is half the battle right there. His dives were pretty solid. I think he has a lot of potential to go far with his diving career.”
Neville thinks so, too.
“Honestly, I would love to do diving throughout all my high school years,” Neville said. “I want to see where it goes, but a lot of the guys got excited when they heard a few of the recent grads were interested in coaching. I’m really glad Tristan is here. If I don’t have a coach, I really don’t know what I’d do.”