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Swimming and Diving: Filippi returns to Flyer pool

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Athletes old and new are jumping on board to the new, or renewed, hiring of Sarah Filippi as the Little Falls Flyers head swimming and diving coach.

In an email sent Thursday, June 18, Flyers activities director Kevin Jordan announced the news.

Filippi returns to Little Falls, where she was the head coach from 1996-2000. After losing her teaching job because of budget cuts, Filippi went to Sartell, where she was an assistant coach for the Sabres programs. For the past few years, she was an educational consultant for Sourcewell. Last year, she was an assistant coach for Tim Corbett, who stepped down because of health reasons following the season after 14 years as head coach.

“Sarah was the coach several years before me and she had an amazing program,” Corbett said. “I expect her to take the program and go further. She is an amazing woman with her knowledge and abilities. It was a blessing to have her as an assistant coach last year in many ways, especially with my health struggles.

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Sarah Filippi is the new head coach for the Little Falls Flyers swimming and diving team. Submitted photo

“She’s got the excitement. She’s got the knowledge and she will be able to take the program and move it forward. I’m very excited for her and I’m excited for the girls. As a coach who builds a program, the last thing you want to see is it fall apart after you leave and leaving as I did without a choice. To know the girls will be in good hands makes me very happy.”

Filippi will also return to the classroom, where she’ll teach high school English. She said she didn’t see herself as a head coach again, but the timing worked.

“I had been a head coach for five years when I first started teaching and it was an amazing experience,” Filippi said. “It’s one of my fondest memories, but as my kids got older I never thought I would be a head coach again. I just wanted to be an assistant. I was lucky enough to be an assistant with Tim Corbett last year and I still thought I was meant to be an assistant. But the more I started thinking about it and when the position opened, all the excitement started to flow again. It seemed like really a no brainer.”

Because of Filippi’s familiarity with the student-athletes and the school district she isn’t worried about the transition even with the restrictions around COVID-19 and social distancing.

She believes her coaching style and philosophy meshed well with Corbett’s and said if it wasn’t for Corbett, she may not have been comfortable returning to the head position.

“One thing I’ve told my own kids — and they’re athletes — is to have fun, work hard and listen to your coaches,” Filippi said. “One thing I’ve been modifying in my own brain for my swimmers is it still has to be fun. It has to be fun and instead of work hard, work smart and be a good teammate. Those are my three things: have fun, work hard and be a good teammate.”

Filippi was a multiple-sport athlete in high school, but gravitated toward swimming and diving.

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“It’s a team sport for sure, but you can celebrate the success of every kid on your team, whether they are swimming the exhibition heat, the junior varsity heat or the varsity heat,” Filippi said. “Every single kid can improve and get better. It’s just a really cool combination of individual and team.”

Jacqueline Fritz will remain as the Flyers’ diving coach and she said Corbett has been instrumental with her transition from assistant to head coach.

“I feel really blessed how awesome the kids have been,” Filippi said. “Swimmers, in general, are just great people usually. The team last year was just so welcoming to me as an assistant coach and Tim has been so supportive in the transition. I’m lucky he left the program in a really good place.

“This has come full circle. So many of my former swimmers have reached out. Some live around the area and they’re inspiring me to do this again. I was really lucky to do this once and I’m really lucky to be able to do it a second time.”

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Sarah Filippi is the new head coach for the Little Falls Flyers swimming and diving team. Submitted photo

Covering the Brainerd lakes area sports scene for the past 23 years.
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