As a former employee and a former coach and swimmer of the Douglas Dolfins, I’d like to bring to attention my concern over the 22-year-old Douglas Dolfin mural. I’d like to begin with saying that I have seen the new fish mural painted by the activity pool and slide pool. I think it’s a great and a much needed improvement, and was well done. Great props to Julie Pozun, the Smithren family, and all the others who were involved.
That being said, the Dolfin mural is a community piece, and many current and former swimmers, as well as frequent customers, have grown to know the painting and recognize it as a connection to home. I know I have.
Growing up at the Carson Valley Swim Center, and having been a part of the swim team, and an employee for eight years, I’ve heard my share of comments on the piece, both positive and negative.
However, being part of such an amazing, strong, and connected community the Douglas Dolfins have provided for the past 50 years, it would be a shame to see the place they have called home erase their support and pride in them with simple strokes of a brush.
I know I’m not the only person who has strong feelings and opinions about covering the mural, but I can only speak for myself. For me that mural has been the location of so many milestones, and lifechanging points of a person’s life. My very first memory of Nevada was in 1998, a month before moving to Minden. I was 7, and my parents decided to take my sister and me on a mini-vacation to see where we would be living. The first thing they did when we drove into Minden was take us to the pool to meet the coaches of the swim team. At that time it was Susan Govan and Don and Sarah Davenport. My parents walked us over to the area under the mural and that was when I first met Susan and Sarah, who to this day are family to me. My first crush asked me to be his girlfriend during swim team dry land practice under the painting, and my first kiss happened there during a swim meet.
When I was 15, Kirk Chiapella offered me my first job as a lifeguard under the mural. For my senior prom, we all met in our dresses and tuxes after swim practice under the mural. Countless swim team photos were taken there, and on more than one heart-wrenching occasion the swim team has met there to take a moment for a swimmer who passed away before their time.
These are just a few memories from one person’s life, but I know that so many others share some of these, and there are several who have similar stories to mine. To paint over a mural where so many great and amazing things have happened, and to not, at the very least, replace it with some kind of dedication or statement that the Carson Valley Swim Center is the home of the Douglas Dolfins would be a very hard pill to swallow, and a stab in the heart to the huge family that is the Douglas Doflins.