Kim Dever Took A New Swing This Fall With Desert Mountain Girls’ Golf
Kim Dever with the Desert Mountain Girls’ Golf Team ahead of their game against Notre Dame Prep at Troon North Golf Club on September 28. (Kaitlyn Parohinog / AZPreps365)
Kaitlyn Parohinog is an ASU Cronkite School of Journalism student covering Desert Mountain for AZPreps365.com.
As the sun rises over the horizon, Desert Mountain coach and teacher Kim Dever begins her long day. Dever spends those days teaching several physical education classes and the nights coaching various sports teams throughout the year.
She started playing sports at a very young age. Her family was very fond of tennis, but did not get involved in the sport until she was an adult. She played football for her high school in Virginia. She also swam while studying at university.
A few years later, Dever moved to Arizona and continued to play football in a mixed league for five years. Once her children were of playing age, she began to officiate for their football matches.
This is Dever’s first season coaching a football team for Desert Mountain, as she leads the JV Women’s Team. She previously coached five seasons of high school soccer, both boys and girls JV teams.
Dever continued to play soccer throughout her adult years until she began to notice that some of her friends were starting to get injured. She realized that she didn’t want to risk injuring herself and decided to stop playing competitive football.
Once she decided to quit soccer, Dever started playing tennis. Her parents, siblings and loved ones all played tennis while Dever pursued football when she was growing up. She entered tennis competitively after learning the basics.
She became a member of the United States Tennis Association and still competes in tournaments to this day. She recently competed at the USTA National Championships for the Southwest region in Surprise, Arizona.
She obtained certificates to play and participate in tennis by the USTA. This helped her develop a deep understanding of the sport. She decided to become a high school tennis coach and has experienced success in recent years.
Desert Mountain’s tennis program has always been one of the best in the state of Arizona. The team won state championships in the 2014-15, 2015-16 and 2020-21 seasons. Dever was brought to Desert Mountain during the 2019-20 school year to coach the varsity and JV tennis teams.
During the 2018-19 season, Desert Mountain was disqualified from the State Championship semifinals due to an illegal roster change during the tournament. They ended up forfeiting Hamilton, which ultimately led to their elimination from the competition.
The school sought to bounce back and win a state championship in Dever’s first season, but the COVID-19 pandemic disrupted those plans. The season was called off and Dever was unable to fully deploy his coaching skills and bring the team back to the championship.
The following season, Dever rode Desert Mountain to the end, winning the women’s singles and doubles tournaments in May 2021. College tennis teams, boys and girls, finished the season atop the Division I standings. Senior Savanna Kollock has been a centerpiece of the dominant women’s team.
Kollock’s four-star rookie talent and Dever’s expansive coaching resume helped Desert Mountain win the Women’s State Championship.
âI know the team really deserves it. We’ve wanted this for a very long time, so it was a great feeling after we finally accomplished it, âsaid Kollock.
Barely three months after coaching Desert Mountain to another state championship, Dever took on a new role at the school: girls’ golf coach.
Dever plays golf in her spare time and her husband participates in tournaments. She decided she wanted to try something new and got involved in another sport.
Golf team co-captain Madie Hepner helped Dever learn to coach a new sport.
âA lot has changed but I think it was for the betterâ¦ she came to see me more often because she believed I knew what was going on,â Hepner said.
Hepner got some help alongside co-captain Baylor Vrabel. The two led the team on and off the course and helped Dever bond with the team.
As the season progressed, Dever reached out to his co-captains to find ways to get the team more involved and increase the chemistry between the five starting players and the upcoming JV players.
âThe highlights were bringing the team together, playing and cheering everyone onâ¦ it was a balancing act [between] JV and university, âDever said.
Vrabel said she enjoyed spending her senior season with the team, helping with the coach change and bringing the girls together after COVID-19 restrictions kept them from interacting with each other outside of season training last.
âIt was a lot more involved overallâ¦ being able to have the JV and college practice together was amazingâ¦ it was really, really nice having everyone together again,â said Vrabel.
One thing Dever said she enjoyed about the golf season was how hard the girls worked on their game and got to know more of the school’s student-athletes.
âAll the tournaments were really funâ¦ seeing the girls fighting really hard for 18 holesâ¦ and then having lunch with them, getting to know them individually as wonderful students,â said Dever.
The Wolves ended the season qualifying for the state championships and placing seventh in the two-day tournament at the Tucson National Golf Course.
After spending the fall season with the golf team, Dever went on to coach the JV women’s soccer team. She works with the girls after school to practice exercises and prepare them to start the season.
In Dever’s debut as a Desert Mountain football coach, the team traveled to Chaparral and won by a score of 4-3.
The team then returned home on December 2 and beat Sierra Linda. The game was heavily controlled by Desert Mountain as they beat the Bulldogs 20-0.
Dever’s work with the team is seen in their recent play as they have been able to find and capitalize on scoring opportunities. They look to continue their success in their upcoming December 12 clash against Millennium.
Once the football season is over, Dever will look to defend his team’s state tennis championship, with Kollock graduating in the spring of 2022.
Dever worked with some of the tennis team members in the fall to continue honing their skills after the summer break, with early morning drills before school started.
“We hope to repeat [winning the championship] this year and I really think we have a stronger team this year than last year, âsaid Dever.
As Kollock enters her final year, she looks forward to defending her singles and tag team championships by keeping herself and her teammates at the same level as last season.
Dever prepares the tennis team as she did for golf and soccer, promoting off-court activities and having fun with the sport. Kollock credits Dever’s positive and caring attitude to helping the team through the season.
“She’s really organized to help us prepare [the season]”said Kollock.
Most Desert Mountain players go to the same clinic, the Players Association at the DC Ranch Village Tennis Center in Scottsdale, to work on their swing mechanics and improve their game. They also participate in tournaments outside of school, which helps them prepare for the season through training and high levels of competition.
This allowed the team to already have chemistry as they got to know each other over the years outside of school.
Kollock recently enlisted at Davidson College in North Carolina on a full scholarship. She said Dever was a great support system throughout the recruiting process as she encouraged Kollock to pursue colleges she was interested in.
âThere were times when I wasn’t sure I had a school I really wanted to go to, but she helped me believe in myself and try to market myself to the coaches,â Kollock said. .
Dever and Kollock are both excited to try and defend their championship this coming season and prove they are the best school on the field in Arizona State.
Even training three sports over three seasons, Dever still takes the time to pay attention and teach other student-athletes to do the same through his yoga class offered at Desert Mountain.
As a physical education teacher at the school, she made many connections with the other coaches. She loves working with the students and staff at Desert Mountain and “looks forward to continuing as long as [she] can.”
She also teaches every student-athlete that playing sports should be about having fun with the game while they can. No matter what the sport, Dever believes, it should always come down to being a team and helping each other at the end of the day.
“I want [them] do their best and bring them together as a team, it doesn’t matter if it’s an individual sport or a team sport, but my main goal is for them all to have fun, âsaid Dever.