After diving for Valparaiso High School in the late 1980s, Scott Valpatic relished the chance to be the head coach at his alma mater.
He's now in his first season as the boys and girls diving coach for the Vikings, but it's hardly the ideal situation for the 1988 graduate.
Longtime coach Bill Chappo resigned from his post the past offseason after budget cuts forced the elimination of one of the two diving positions. Valpatic, the assistant at Valparaiso for the past nine years, took over, and now he's running both programs by himself.
"It's difficult; I would've worked as an assistant for free," admitted Valpatic, who previously coached at Portage for nine seasons. "Chappo did what he had to do.
"I have mixed feelings. I'm not totally happy with what happened."
But Valpatic also wanted to be there for his divers, especially seniors Muyenda Burnett and Zach Schwartz, who placed second and 18th, respectively, at last year's state meet. Valpatic worked with both divers the past two seasons.
"It's just a matter of keeping them motivated," Valpatic said. "I already have a rapport with them, and that helps."
The same can't be said for the girls divers. Valpatic worked more with the boys divers as an assistant. He's worked a little with senior Khalela El-Naggar, who has qualified for state the last two seasons.
"I've trained a little with her in the past, but not to the extent with the boys," Valpatic said. "It's not as big of a deal. She's kind of in maintenance mode. It's just a matter of getting prepared mentally."
El-Naggar, who has verbally committed to Illinois for college diving, doesn't feeling this coaching change holds her back.
"It wasn't a hard transition," she said. "He's really particular with details, and that's a good fit for both of us."
Besides, the boys divers don't seem to have a problem splitting time with Valpatic.
"He already knows what I can do, so I don't feel as much pressure," said Burnett, who has committed to Iowa Lake Community College. "I kind of already know what I have to do."
Valpatic works with nine divers (three boys, six girls), and he admits that can be a daunting task at times.
"It's been challenging," Valpatic said. "I love it. Each kid you work with is a puzzle. You have to figure out what motivates them. A lot of things are built on precise movements, and different people do them differently."
Chappo remains supportive of Valpatic, believing that one of his former divers is up to the task.
"The whole purpose of bringing Scott back to the program was that he could be the head coach at some point," Chappo said. "He's got a lot of his own ideas. He can handle it -- that's what he did at Portage. He'll find a way to get quality out of all of them."