Durkin Hands Wheeling Park Swim Reins Over to Hahn, Cook
WHEELING — Two things were certain for swimmers who competed for coach Pat Durkin.
One, they were going to have fun — and two, they were going to win.
Now after a thrilling ride, which began in 2009, Durkin has decided to step away from his post as the Wheeling Park swim coach but he will remain as the school’s head softball coach in the spring.
Durkin began his stint as head coach with OVAC titles in both boys’ and girls’ events in 2009. With the help of assistant coach Amy Hensler, the duo went on to capture six OVAC girls titles, including four in a row from 2016-19, three OVAC boys crowns and the 2017 girls’ state championship.
Despite the success and the glory, it’s the good times at practice and the athletes that Durkin will miss the most.
“I’ll miss the kids and I’ll miss the practice,” Durkin said. “We’ve had something really great going on up here. Everybody bought into the program and it’s hard for me to leave. I started here with my oldest daughter swimming and she’s been out of school for a while now.”
Durkin has earned multiple OVAC and West Virginia Coach of the Year Awards but he credits the help of Hensler and the pure talent of the kids.
“I have to give Amy a lot of kudos,” Durkin said. “It’s not fair that I get accolades and she is here doing a lot of the work that nobody sees. Also, none of that comes without the kids. We’ve had something really great going on here and everybody bought into the program. Hopefully the swim program is in a better spot than it was when we began. Park has a lot of talent.”
Durkin and Hensler’s progress will continue on into the future as Meredith Hahn takes over as the girls’ swim coach and Mike Cook will handle the boys’ swim coaching dutites.
Both come from swimming backgrounds and bring great knowledge of the sport to the Patriots.
Hahn was a coach at Parkersburg for five years and helped the girls’ team capture state titles in 2018 and 2019. Now she will take over a program that already has two individual state champs in Abby Turner and Jenna Bopp.
“I’m really excited,” Hahn said. “There is a lot of talent on the girls’ side. We have a chance to do really well this year. I have experience coaching state champions and I like being able to work with a team of that caliber and building up swimmers who are new to the sport, as well. I’m a teacher and I like coaching.”
Cook says he is already benefiting from Hahn’s knowledge and is excited to work alongside her.
“She’s been a huge help,” Cook said. “She comes from a swimming background like I do. She makes everything a lot easier.”
Cook was a three-time state champion for the Patriots as a swimmer in high school before swimming for John McGowan, Weir’s current coach, in college at Bethany.
As far as Cook is concerned, this is the dream job.
“From my perspective, it’s that job you just always wanted,” Cook said. “It’s important for me because I was part of three state title teams here and I’m just excited to be back around it. I haven’t coached swimming in awhile but it’s just nice to be back around the sport.”
Cook coached swimming at Marion High School in Indiana for three years and is currently an assistant baseball coach for the Patriots.