THEY “LOVE” THEIR JOBS
Love is more than just a tennis term in Farmington. Two coaches are very passionate about their jobs.
You would be hard pressed to find a boys and girls coaching tandem that’s been together longer than the tennis duo up in in the Four Corners.
Larry Larson is on season #42 with the Scorpions. Pat McGrath has been coaching at Farmington since 1994.
They have 66 years combined of coaching experience at Farmington High School. So, what’s kept them in it so long?
“I love playing tennis, I like teaching it,” explained McGrath. “And the Farmington kids, we get the best kids.”
“He’s really great at working with our strengths and weaknesses, figuring out what each of us needs and working individually with us,” said senior player Monica Briones.
Larson got into tennis, almost by accident.
“I always wanted to a high school basketball coach and basketball didn’t come available and tennis did and I fell in love with it,” is how Larson described how he got started.
“I love coach Larson, he’s a great coach,” said senior Nathan Benson. “Don’t tell him, but this tournament (Academy Invitational) I’m going to ask him to walk with me at graduation. You only get one person to ask and I’m going to ask him. I’ve been with him forever and I love him, he’s a great guy.”
One of Larson’s best memories in four decades worth of coaching is a story his players know too well.
“My kids always get sick of the story. We played Los Alamos in the semifinals about four years ago. It was four matches each and I had an eighth grader playing a senior from Los Alamos. We had lost to that boy every match and my eighth grader came back and beat him, he was down 4-2 in the third set and came back and beat him. That probably is the highlight of my career.”
When asked if there was one memory or team or season that stood out, McGrath reflected on the first.
“The first year we won state we had a group of freshman and they won state every year until they graduated. That was quite a good group and that set the stage for the rest of the kids.”
Senior Monica Briones said, “He’s really great at working with our strengths and weaknesses, figuring out what each of us needs and working individually with us.”
McGrath has six team titles on his resume at Farmington. Larson led some singles and doubles teams to a championship.
“I just wish I could beat Academy,” joked Larson.
Each is complimentary of the other when it comes to the success of the program.
“He is the reason the program’s been as good as it has,” Larson said of McGrath. “He spends an awful lot of time on the tennis courts in Farmington.”
McGrath was honest about his longtime partnership with the boys coach. “He helps me not to mess up. When I start to think of something to do that doesn’t make any sense or isn’t a good idea, he says ‘step back a minute and think about what you’re doing.’ And also, it doesn’t matter how many years that I’m coaching, I’m still a rookie compared to him.”
Tough to call anyone who’s been coaching that long a rookie, but we’ll go with it. McGrath and Larson, the rookie and the veteran, going strong.