After an extraordinary season and a first place finish at the Oakland Activities Association (OAA) boys swimming championships, the Royal Oak Ravens can be proud of the accolades that are coming their way.
Coach Darrin Millar has been named Coach of the Year and Zach Zatina picked up Senior of the Meet at the league championships hosted by Royal Oak.
Millar, now in his 27th year of coaching in the Royal Oak School District, said the team’s focus on training this season was like “money in the bank.”
“The kids did a great job of buying into the system and staying focused on training for the league meet from day one and it paid off,” Millar said. "The boys fought their way up in the standings and took places and medals that other teams counted on for themselves."
The young team – more than half are freshman and sophomores – scored 488 to win the championship, beating out Rochester High with 476 points. The team had 42 of 43 individual best swims during the preliminary meet on Feb. 19 and added another 27 individual bests during the finals on Feb. 21.
Assistant coach Rich Hanson said Millar is worthy Coach of the Year honor.
“He works very hard,” said Hanson, who has been coaching with Millar for 25 years. “He treats the slowest swimmers on the team as equals to those who are the fastest. He brings out the best in everyone on the team. He’s very deserving of any accolades he gets.”
Next up for Millar is a trip with Zatina to the Boys Swimming & Diving State Finals at Eastern Michigan University on March 7-8. Zatina picked up state cuts in the 50-yard and 100-yard freestyle, breaking longstanding team records in both events.
“Coach Millar is definitely a person the team looks up to,” said Zatina. “The biggest thing he did for me was helping me to fall in love with swimming. Sure, there’s the technical stuff but if you don’t love it you are not going to reach your goals.”
Millar noted he could not be successful without the support of Athletic Director Jim Cole, Assistant Coordinator Pamela Moore and the team’s parents.
“I have many people that go above and beyond to help me so that I don’t have to think about anything other than the water,” he said.
The coach also had high praise for his wife, Cammie, and daughters, Emily and Danielle.
“If there is anything that is hard about coaching from Thanksgiving Day through St. Patrick’s Day, it is missing my daughters’ games so that I can be with and coach other parents’ children,” Millar said. “I am very thankful to my wife for her support.”Source: Royal Oak Schools