Two longtime VHS coaches retire
By Lucy Wing, Reporter
Vashon has a history of success in sports and has produced many champion teams. While part of this is the result of athletes and individual talents, much of Vashon’s success comes from quality coaches who are invested in their team and the game. This year VHS says goodbye to two such coaches.
For the past 10 years, cross country coach Laura Johnson has been a familiar face on campus on fall afternoons. But this year Johnson is moving off-island to be closer to her grandchildren, meaning this past cross country season was her last at VHS.
Johnson looks back on her years fondly, remembering each team and her time watching her athletes grow.
“Each year the team changes just a little, but within a few weeks we settle in and it’s our new cross country family, and every year it’s my new favorite team ever,” she said.
Many of her athletes appreciate her kindness and warmth as well as her coaching style.
“I like her, she’s a really good coach. She really pushed you to be better and is super motivating,” junior Levi Blasingim said.
Johnson, having grown up on Vashon, has seen VHS over many years and has watched thousands of students graduate and move on with their lives. Now she is moving on with hers but will continue to treasure every memory with her cross country athletes.
“It has been a wonderful experience. In addition to running, we’ve done hikes, beach swims, muddy runs, cross country camp, long bus rides, but most of all, lots of laughter.” Johnson said.
Also leaving the VHS coaching staff this year is boys tennis coach Pat Mulvihill, who is retiring after back-to-back wins at the Nisqually League Championships. Mulvihill has brought great success to the tennis program on the island, putting an emphasis on development and love for the game.
“He’s not only good at developing the cream of the crop, he really focuses on developing game from the bottom of JV to the top of varsity.” senior Zach Van Dusen said.
Assistant Coach Rick Doussett was also appreciative of Mulvihill’s coaching style.
“He gave individual skills-building attention to every student athlete, regardless of their seniority,” Doussett said.
Mulvihill’s work as a coach made clear his commitment to not only the team but the entire tennis community on Vashon and how that has helped lead to success.
“It should be pointed out that a coach’s job doesn’t end at the court. Pat wrote all the newspaper articles, sent daily email updates and instructions, drove the school van, prepared lesson plans, and provided video links for remote learning. He organized and ran summer clinics and generally networked on behalf of the team.” Doussett said.
Mulvihill leaves not only the title of back-to-back league champions but also a very successful tennis program that is sure to do well in the future.
“When I joined the team as a freshman we had a very young team, it was impressive how much I could improve in one season thanks to coach Pat.” Van Dusen said.
VHS will lose two coaches who cared deeply about their teams and their sport. The Riptide thanks Laura Johnson and Pat Mulvihill for their years spent coaching VHS athletes.