Aqua Lions new coach a familiar name

Lions coach Shane Dye consults his team as they take on the Willamette Wolverines.

COTTAGE GROVE, Ore. - The Cottage Grove Lions water polo season is now underway, and the team has hired a familiar name from the past to continue building towards its ultimate goal.

“Our goal is to win a state championship,” Shane Dye said. “That is what I am going to try and do.”

Dye was hired not only as the Aqua Lions new water polo coach but will also serve as the swim coach and manager of the Warren H. Daugherty Aquatic Center. Dye, who is a Cottage Grove High School Alumni, was announced as the Lions new coach in June. He comes in after long-term coach Tyson Pilling and the school parted ways.

“I’m back, after 29 years,” Dye said enthusiastically. “I used to be the coach from 1987 to 1994 for water polo and I was the assistant swimming coach here as well.” Dye was the assistant swim coach under Bud Taylor from 1986 to 1994.

Moved by the events of the terrorist attacks against the United States on September 11, 2001, Dye decided to enlist in the Navy. He completed four deployments as a Citizen Sailor overseas.

“I got pissed after 9/11,” Dye said. “I was age 38 when I went down and signed up.”

His last deployment saw him in Djibouti, Africa for one year and nearly nine months in a boat unit. He participated in aquatic training with the Navy.

Dye also taught middle school and high school students and coached for the majority of those years across the state of Oregon, as well as both a high school and college swim coach in North Dakota.

When asked what drew him back to the Lions, Dye said “Cottage Grove drew me back to work with this team and at this pool. The pool has changed a lot, the old pool is a lot different. The people are great, the team is smaller than it was 29 years ago, so we need to get our team [numbers] up. We will get better.”

Last season, the water polo teams were unable to compete in any home games until October 18 because of temperature issues in the pool. This year everything is back on track and the Lions hosted their first set of home games last Tuesday, Sept. 5.

Elliot Buehler led the Lions girls’ team with three goals in an 8-4 victory over Willamette High School but fell a few days later against South Eugene by the score of 13-2. The boys team lost to Willamette; Tyler Herrington led the Lions that day with two goals. The boys team then fell to South Eugene 2-15 last Thursday.

“They try really hard, in both practice and in the games” Dye said following a question regarding his opinion on the team's greatest strengths.

The Lions water polo teams played at home against Albany on Tuesday and on Thursday against South Salem, both games following the Cottage Grove Sentinels' print deadline.

Next up, the teams host Marist on Tuesday, Sept. 19 and then host West Salem on Thursday, Sept. 21. Both games will begin at 4 p.m. at the Warren H. Daugherty Aquatic Center, 1440 S 8th St, Cottage Grove, Ore.