Having now won my first A-10 title, owning too much Lululemon and eating at countless restaurants in "The Fan", I have begun to feel like more of an authentic Ripster. For those of you who don't speak Richmond, a "Ripster" is Richmond's own eccentric version of the new fab hipster.
With the 2011-12 season now at an end, there has been ample time for my brain to process our season. This being said, here are some of the unforgettable stories, life lessons and other memories I've taken away from my first year as assistant coach.
- The first time I met girls from the team was a trip to the campus Dining Hall with Lauren Hines, Mali Kobelja, Mariel Kush and Jill Smaniotto. As we sat down to eat, I was just about to take the first bite of my lunch when they started firing some pretty intense questions as to why I wanted to work at Richmond and coach a crazy bunch of girls.
- Alexi Kuska getting hit in the head during warm-ups and the subsequent look on her face when George Mason's trainer told her that she could not swim the 1000 free. I thought she was going to give the trainer a matching bloody nose.
- Driving Charlotte Brackett to get some food over our Winter Training trip. Her plane was late landing and she thus missed our first grocery run. It's amazing how driving a 15-passenger van with the windows down while listening to crappy pop music can lead to deep conversations.
- The first time I met Ding Bang... enough said.
- Meredith Gouger singing "Cheeseburger in Paradise" during Freshman Sing. It wasn't her singing that was memorable, but rather the look of nervousness on her face. "Diffy" wasn't nervous about singing but was getting so car sick on the way home she might as well have been Casper the Friendly Ghost. Meredith brings her NASCAR toughness everywhere she goes.
- Mariel Kush telling me even her brother loves Lululemon and that he gets angry when their mom doesn't wash his underwear by the recommended directions!
- Jessie Krebs singing the most dramatic interpretation of Celine Dion's "My Heart Will Go On" imaginable. Taper provides all kind of energy!
- When Matt called Liz Cohan out for bringing a "friend" to practice.
- An even better Liz moment was watching her finish her career with her first ever A-10 title in the 400 Free Relay - a title she worked four years to achieve.
- Watching Mary Anne Lerro swim her last race, the 200 breast, with a personal-best. After battling asthma all year, we expected her to have a good 100. She hadn't had a best time in the 200 since her freshman year. It's amazing what you can do when you put your mind to it!
- Hopefully sometime soon, I'll be able to forget Jill's dancing! I think seeing her rock some high-top Nikes and dance across the bulkhead in her parka will forever be etched in my brain.
- Laura Jordan's ability to laugh in the face of danger... or at pretty much anything.
- One of my favorite moments from the year and from the conference meet: I was waiting to take an elevator with five swimmers after finals one night when five Boston Bruins joined us at the last minute. None of the girls had any clue that we were in an elevator with NHL players; they just viewed them as some tough guys. When they exited the elevator, Jessie turned to me and said, "Oh shoot, those were NFL players... I should have asked for some toughness lessons!"
- Our Assistant Director of Public Relations, Zach Burrus, singing in the shower at the conference meet... and Matt playing the recording for the girls at our team meeting. Nicki Minaj will never be the same.
- A conversation I had with Allison Titley on our flight home from conference. There were some pretty deep thoughts (especially for fewer than two hours of sleep) on what it takes to be successful. That girl has a head on her shoulders for being a freshman... if you can look past the whole Ding Bang baby thing.
- #SBRVA12 (Spring Break Richmond, VA) and the board of motivation. I have a feeling my officemate may never forget the sight of me jumping up and down school-girl style while yelling at a fuzzy computer screen watching Lauren swim the 100 back prelims at NCAAs.
- Diving... Where to start on this one? This was my first season with a dive team in seven years. Thanks to Erika and Katherine Cook, I finally learned what all those crazy numbers mean and the mental toughness it takes to be a great diver.
- Erin Brady swimming the 200 breast in a postseason meet and killing it. After she got out of the pool, she was barely breathing. Lots of lessons learned from that swim. If you need breaststroke advice, talk to Erin or any of our other great breaststrokers!
While I am pretty sure I won't ever forget my first Victory swim, I know I won't forget the stories from the year and the lessons that the girls taught me. I can't wait for our incoming group of freshmen to get here so we can officially start the quest for number 11!
Disclaimer: I know the girls are hard at work already!