Jason Pullano wasn’t sure he’d get a second chance to come to Highland Park. Now he’s glad he did.
The school’s new swimming and diving coach was initially approached about joining the Blue Wave as an assistant in 2020, but the timing wasn’t right to make the move from Granbury.
Two years later, with longtime HP coach Jesse Cole retiring, Pullano jumped at the opportunity to lead a program with such a distinguished pedigree into a new era.
“I kicked myself for a year. I was hoping I didn’t burn my bridges,” said Pullano, who had coached at Granbury since 2014. “We wanted to go someplace that was close to the Metroplex and that had a facility the district owned.”
Not only does HP make sense geographically for Pullano, but the district’s new state-of-the-art natatorium is a particular source of pride.
“I really want to honor the tradition of what has been done here,” Pullano said. “The goal is to fill this pool with as much history as the last pool.”
Pullano is familiar with the HP girls dynasty from the 2000s when the Blue Wave won 10 consecutive team titles at the UIL state meet. That dominance overlapped with his swimming career at Euless Trinity.
He wants to continue filling HP’s trophy case, but Pullano’s approach is different after overhauling his coaching style during the pandemic.
In a sport dominated by repetitive conditioning, how does he give swimmers a chance to compete in games like their athletic peers? That’s where “game theory” has become part of the Blue Wave’s routine, making a grueling daily grind more fun without sacrificing performance.
“I feel passionate about it because I was always the swimmer who wanted to play games but had to do conditioning,” he said. “I want to bring joy to swimming. We’re going to work hard, and we’re going to smile.”
Although a move to the Class 6A classification for the next two years will be challenging, Pullano said early results are promising for his young roster.
“It’s not going to change the way we approach practices and meets,” Pullano said. “It’s the same 25 yards of water.”
Pullano aims to build a foundation for future success through culture and relationships and find synergies with the school’s new water polo program, which began competing this fall.
“We work together, and we complement each other,” Pullano said. “We want to make Highland Park the premier aquatics program in the state of Texas.”