As of Wednesday, December 2, 2015
INDEPENDENCE — Jennifer Tress didn’t set out to become Central’s head swim coach.
A lifelong swimmer, Tress, who is in her first year teaching at Central High School, immediately expressed interest in becoming involved with the swim team — just not as the head coach.
“I swam in high school and I taught swim lessons while I was in college,” Tress said. “This seemed like it would be a great opportunity, but I had no formal coaching experience. I emailed Shane Hedrick in early September and said this is my experience. I know you’re looking for a head coach, but if you need an assistant, please pass on my name, I’d love to be involved that way.”
More than a month passed when Tress found out Central was still in need of a head coach. Hedrick offered her the position while she was on vacation.
“It wasn’t what I was expecting,” Tress said. “I filled out a resume, talked to my husband about the time commitment and what it would mean for the season. I thought about it a lot. I didn’t have any coaching experience, but I do have the technique and I taught swim lessons. I finally thought, why not? I might be the only person to do it and all coaches have to start somewhere.”
Since accepting the position, Tress has been studying up, including researching different coaching techniques, OSAA rules and regulations, and talking with her former high school swim coach for ideas.
“I don’t like feeling clueless,” Tress said. “I wanted to be ready to start the season the best way possible.”
Since the official start of the season, Tress has been working hard to get to know her team and work out any kinks during practices.
“It’s been a little chaotic,” Tress said. “We have a big team this year with swimmers at a variety of skill levels. I want to give each student a fair chance and help them improve their stroke, whatever their level is.”
At first, that seemed daunting, but Tress hasn’t taken long to keep her head above water. While she never expected this season would be her first as a head coach, she’s ready to seize the opportunity.
“I’m excited for the season to see how it goes,” Tress said. “The kids have handled (the coaching change) with grace and have been flexible with a few awkward stumbles during practice. We have kids who want to go to state and kids who are learning to put their face in the water for the first time. It’s great to see.”