With the new school year on the horizon, Weeki Wachee High has filled two coaching vacancies, hoping to see improvement from two of its more downtrodden programs.
Danny Fierro has been named head coach for the girls soccer team, while Scott Tumelty takes over the boys and girls swim teams.
“(Fierro) has a lot of knowledge of the game,” Weeki Wachee athletic director Mark Lee said. “We’re definitely excited to see him continue to build our girls soccer program.
“Scott has got the experience. He stresses discipline. I think he’s a perfect fit for our swimming program.”
Fierro is no stranger to Hornet soccer. He has served as junior varsity and varsity assistant coach for the boys the past two seasons.
A science teacher at the school, Fierro has aided head varsity coach Shane Tarbox, who took over a team that went 0-18 its first season in 2011-12, but has gone a combined 17-15-6 the past two campaigns.
The Lady Hornets haven’t experienced such an uptick. They’ve gone a combined 1-49-2 over their three years of existence, including 1-17-1 the most recent season.
“I’m really excited,” Fierro said. “I saw how the girls were struggling. I just wanted to see if I could do my own thing, branch out from Shane and start building up the program at Weeki Wachee. There are good players there. Maybe they just haven’t had the confidence to get it going.”
A 2006 graduate of Springstead, the 26-year-old Fierro didn’t play in high school, but does have a passion for the pitch.
He called Nature Coast boys soccer head coach Ian Wald, a 2005 Springstead grad, one of his best friends, and the two coached a team of 17-year-olds with the Hernando Heat last year.
“I don’t have the playing experience, but I love the game,” Fierro said. “I watch the game. I study the game all the time. I have a pretty extensive knowledge of the game.”
He’ll rely on that in hopes of helping the girls produce the same competitive results as their male counterparts.
“It’s going to be a slow process,” Fierro said. “I think the talent is definitely there. I just think with positive reinforcement, going back to basics, building the program up from the fundamentals, building their self-esteem up, I think we can turn it around this season or next.
“Sometimes you just need to see the game a different way, and hopefully I can provide the path to that.”
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Similar to girls soccer, Weeki Wachee’s swim program has yet to gain much traction over its first five seasons.
Last year showed signs of progress, however, with sophomore Michael Molnar and freshman Ashton Hunter reaching regionals, as well as the quartet of Jake Bence, Hunter, Zach Guerin and Molnar in two relays.
Previously, Steven James was the first Weeki Wachee swimmer to go to regionals in 2012. The Lady Hornets have yet to be represented beyond districts.
The school is already on its fourth different swim coach in Tumelty, and has introduced a new one each of the past three summers.
“I’d like to bring some stability,” Tumelty said. “I’d like to make it a successful program. We’ll take small steps, see what we have and grow.”
This marks Tumelty’s first coaching gig at the high school level, as well as his first year as a teacher. The 49-year-old will teach history at Weeki Wachee.
He was a four-year swimmer during his high school days in New Jersey, adding that he won four medals in the Junior Olympics.
He said he had some scholarship opportunities in the sport, but declined to pursue them. Since then, he only dabbled in swimming by coaching in Pasco County when his now adult son was very young.
Tumelty also did some coaching for Spring Hill Dixie Baseball, and guided middle school basketball and golf teams at Norte Dame Catholic School in Spring Hill.
With Weeki Wachee in need of a swim coach, he was willing to fill the void. He replaces former Central High state qualifier and Hernando Today Swimmer of the Year Elizabeth McGeehan, who stepped down to pursue her master’s degree.
Tumelty said he has spoken about the team with McGeehan, who he has known for a long time since she went to school with his son. She’s also coincidentally his next-door neighbor.
“They’re all good kids from what I understand. They work hard from what I understand,” Tumelty said. “There’s a lot of room to grow. There are some quality kids on the team and it’s a matter of focus, conditioning and maybe some fine-tuning.
“I want to get some kids to qualify for states. I love success and I love to win, but I also like having a good time doing it.”