Mallory Adair is a three-time state qualifier and undisputed leader of the Franklin Community High School girls swimming and diving team.
One of the Grizzly Cubs’ fastest swimmers, she pushes teammates in practice, is one of their hardest workers, is an NCAA Division I recruit, and is a source of comfort and knowledge for Franklin’s wealth of young athletes.
Without Adair, Cubs coach Zach DeWitt isn’t sure they would be enjoying this year’s unprecedented success.
“I can’t really imagine this team without her,” said DeWitt, who has coached Adair since her sophomore season — a fact that has washed out her senior season of varsity swimming.
Story continues below gallery
Adair practices with the team, attends meets with the team but can’t compete with the team — all because of a new IHSAA rule that was adopted last spring.
A transfer student from Plainfield, Adair is ineligible because of the so-called “Past Link” rule, which forbids transfers from competing for a coach whom he or she has worked with 12 months prior to enrollment.
For the past three years, Adair has been a member of the Franklin Regional Swim Team, which DeWitt coaches. The association automatically made Adair ineligible to swim for the Cubs’ varsity team.
To regain eligibility, she would have to sit out one full season — a moot point, since she’s a senior.
But no matter.
Because of what she called a “negative” situation at Plainfield, Adair already had resolved to transfer. Her family had planned a move to Franklin even before the rule went into effect.
Although she had the option of staying at Plainfield for her senior season, something DeWitt even advised, Adair decided it would be better to be a non-competing member of the Cubs’ team than return to the Quakers.
She has no regrets about her decision.
“I still came, just because I wanted to be out of that environment that I was in and really liked it here. I know the people, I liked the town already, so I went here,” Adair said. “I knew what I was giving up.
“I knew there was a large possibility I wouldn’t be able to swim, but I figured I would still be part of the team, still (practice) with them and still do a lot with them.”
For that, the Cubs are grateful.
A three-time state meet qualifier at Plainfield, Adair has served multiple roles, including team manager, drill partner, coach’s aid and mentor. She participates in every practice, attends ever meet and essentially does whatever she can to help a young team packed with sophomores and freshmen.
“There are two dynamics,” DeWitt said. “From a physical standpoint, she’s really fast, and she works very, very hard. So she’s an automatic leader by default, because she works so hard. The girls sort of follow that lead. But she is also one of the sweetest people you could ever hope to meet.
“For a team with so many (young) members, it’s hard to find an identity, and she immediately was kind of a cohesive person to bridge a lot of gaps. She’s more or less the glue that holds the team together.”
“Mallory is the kind of person that always has a smile on her face, even when times may be tough,” said junior Brenna Pearcy, a state meet qualifier in relays. “She always manages to encourage other people, and she always works hard, and that encourages everybody else around her to do the same.”
A versatile swimmer with many interests outside the pool (she’s an avid reader who also enjoys creative writing, drawing and horticulture), Adair enjoys working with her teammates, be it in racing drills or offering advice and guidance, when solicited.
She also enjoys assisting in meets, timing splits and gathering data coaches use to evaluate progress.
“I really just try to be an anchor for them,” Adair said. “If they need somebody to talk to, I’ll always be there. I’m always ready to talk to somebody if they need it, or leave them be if they need, and I’m always ready to lead if I have to.
“I’m always ready to take that role.”
Although the Cubs, who recently won their first sectional championship since 1989, would prefer that Adair compete, they are grateful for her sacrifice to contribute in other ways.
“She’s always a blast. She’s always smiling and laughing and making jokes,” Pearcy said. “She’s definitely the loudest one cheering on the sidelines. She’s been a huge part of the team this year.”
Fortunately for Adair, her competition days haven’t ended. They’re on hiatus.
A Division I recruit, she’s had official visits to Cleveland State and the University of Wyoming and has courted interest from a host of Division II programs. She expects to make a decision soon.
But until then, she relishes her role with the Cubs, who are competing in today’s championship finals of the IHSAA State Meet, where — for the first time in three years — she’ll be a spectator, not a swimmer.
“Not being able to compete was pretty hard sometimes, especially at (the sectional), because I just wanted to really be part of that,” Adair said. “The one thing I miss the most is swimming relays, because that was probably my favorite event. It was such a big team event. I would have loved to do even more to help my team out, whether it’s scoring points for them or swimming with them in competition.
“I miss the competition aspect, yes, but I still feel very much part of our team. They didn’t leave me out, ever. I was always with them.”
Perhaps in more ways than she realizes.
“We have a really young team, and for some of the girls who really adore her, to be able to look up to her throughout the season and follow her lead, both in practice and then also seeing the sacrifices she’s made to be here, it’s really humbling for all of us, coaching staff, included,” DeWitt said. “I can’t really imagine this team without here.
“She’ll never show up on a heat sheet and she’ll never show up in our lineup, but she’s one of the most important people on our team.”
Name: Mallory Adair
High School: Franklin
Interests outside of swimming: Creative writing, drawing, digital painting, horticulture, reading
Favorite book: “The Geisha Trilogy”
Favorite movie: “Gladiator”
Parents: Michael and Cherie Adair
The IHSAA “Past Link” rule
Adopted May 4, 2015
A past link means that during the previous 12 months prior to enrollment, and of the following occurred:
- The transfer student attended an open gym at the receiving school.
- The transfer student played on a summer or non-school sport, such as an AAU team, which had a coach, manager or trainer who was either a coach, manager or trainer at the receiving school; or had been a coach, manager or trainer at the receiving school anytime during the 12-month period prior to the student’s enrollment at the receiving school; or became a coach, manager or trainer at the receiving school any time during the 90-day period after the student’s enrollment at the receiving school.
- The transfer student received instruction from a coach, manager or trainer who either was a coach, manager or trainer at the receiving school at the time the transfer student enrolled at the receiving school; or had been a coach, manager or trainer at the receiving school anytime during the 12-month period prior to the student’s enrollment at the receiving school; or became a coach, manager or trainer at the receiving school anytime during the 90-day period after the student’s enrollment at the receiving school.