By KEVIN ROBERTS
Evan Tuttle means a lot to the Southington boys swimming and diving program. Just ask those that are around him. The soft-spoken coach has become synonymous with Southington swimming. As the coach of the Blue Knight boys and girls teams, he’s never very far from a local pool. For Tuttle, it’s more than just an extra-curricular activity.
“Evan is a teacher and coach who does truly care, not just about the wins, but more importantly about the athletes, both in and out of the pool,” said Jan Zagorski, who coaches diving for Tuttle during the fall and winter.
“Evan is the consummate professional,” athletic director Greg Ferry said. “He’s somebody that people don’t realize, from the middle of August through the middle of March, he’s going at it six days a week trying to make our swimming and diving program better.”
Tuttle was recognized for his efforts in and out of the pool when he was chosen as the Connecticut High School Coaches Association coach of the year for boys swimming and diving. Tuttle, along with Blue Knight cheerleading coach Heather Allenback, will be honored on May 9 at the Aqua Turf Club. Tuttle said he is humbled and truly grateful for the recognition, but he immediately thanked those around him.
“While the CHSCA has honored me with this distinction, it does not belong to me. It belongs to our athletes, to our parents, to Jan Zagorski our diving coach, and all who support what we do,” Tuttle said. “It is their efforts, their ethics, their character, their support and their love of this sport and this program that truly deserves the attention and recognition. I am simply proud to be a part of it.”
Tuttle also pointed out the work of his fellow coaches in the sport.
“In our sport of high school swimming and diving, there are countless coaches who work relentlessly to get the best out of their athletes, day in and day out, not just in the water, but in school and in their communities,” Tuttle said. “Each of them are deserving of this recognition.”
Zagorski said Tuttle is a “wonderful mentor and role model.”
“He holds the athletes to a very high standard and instills a strong work ethic and respect for all, not only members of our team but also for the opposing teams as well,” Zagorski said. “The expectations of every meet include not only winning the meet, but more importantly, achieving their best times or scores and being supportive of all by cheering throughout the entire meet.”
Tuttle is also there for his student-athletes outside of the pool, Zagorski said.
“Many of our former athletes return for our alumni “meet” and water polo game over the December break,” Tuttle said. “They continue to be connected to the team through college and beyond.”
Tuttle is also there for his fellow teachers, according to Ferry.
“If and when I hire new personnel, he’s someone who I reference and tell them they can go to for guidance,” Ferry said.
If you’re looking for someone with a bad word to say about the Southington coach, you won’t find it. Tuttle has become a central figure in Southington swimming—loved and respected by his student-athletes and peers—and now the state has recognized him with its top honor.
To comment on this story or to contact staff writer Kevin Roberts, email him at KRoberts@SouthingtonObserver.com