CLIPBOARD Q&A

Reed glad to give Northwood swimming much-needed consistency

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Rebecca Reed is entering her second season as the Northwood swimming and diving coach, and she hopes the 2022-23 season will bring the Chargers similar levels of success to what they experienced last winter.

Last season, Northwood’s girls finished third at the 3A state championship meet. The Chargers have graduated eight of their 14 girls swimmers from last year over the offseason, but there’s still an abundance of talent on that side of the team, including sisters Abby and Lauren Emrich, both of whom were state finalists last season.

On the boys side, Reed is dealing with another small roster, with only five boys currently competing for the Chargers. Three of the five are newcomers, and Reed feels excited about how the team could progress over the course of the year.

Reed spoke with the News + Record earlier this week to discuss the upcoming season, her experiences as a first-time coach last winter and much more.

You had a fairly successful year last season, finishing third in the girls 3A state championship meet. Describe how you’re feeling entering the season compared to where you were last year.

REBECCA REED: I’m excited. I feel like there are some things that were uncertainties last year that I feel a little bit more comfortable with, in terms of how things play out from the meet perspective and the practice perspective in high school, and specifically in this area. Our team’s pretty small this year. We’ve got a really great group who are excited to be on the team. But we are a lot smaller. It should be interesting to see how things play out when we get to compete.

How difficult was it last year going through the season without a set practice schedule? What changes have been made over the offseason?

We’ve got a really great partnership with the Ingram YMCA in Sanford. We were able to increase not only the number of days we were practicing there, but also the duration of time. That has been great. But it’s hard being a Pittsboro school and having to drive into Sanford, into a different county, to practice. I think that’s honestly a deterrent for some kids on the team to join. You have to have, whether it’s carpool or your parents’ car or your own vehicle, you have to get 25 to 30 miles down the road to practice. I think not having somewhere for the kids to practice more locally is not a great thing. But the place that we are at has been really supportive of us and really flexible.

We went from honestly having two hours a week in the pool to this year, now we’re at four and a half. We’re practicing three times a week for 90 minutes. Last year we were only there two days a week for 60 minutes. We’ve definitely increased the amount of time the kids are in the pool. I think that’s going to yield great results. In absence of a local pool, we’re very thankful for the partnership we have with the Ingram YMCA.

This Northwood program hasn’t had a lot of consistency between years when it comes to coaching. How important was it for you to stick around for this season and try and help develop the program from where it is now?

It was interesting to me. The juniors and the seniors last year told me they hadn’t had a coach stay more than a year the whole time they were in high school. Being a former athlete myself, that was powerful to me. For the year-round swimmers, that consistency probably isn’t as important, but we have a pretty decent contingent of kids on the team who are not year-round swimmers and who are coming to my practices three days a week and swimming. It was important to me to give them that consistency and that assurance that they could work hard for themselves, but also for me and for the team. That was very important to me. I’m really glad that the swimmers we have this year are getting that consistency.

You graduated eight of the 14 girls on your roster last year. Who are some swimmers on that side of the pool you’re expecting to step up and lead the charge this year?

We have another large senior class this year. I think the ones to watch out for are both of the Emrich sisters, Abby and Lauren. They were finalists at states last year, and I expect them to be finalists again this year. Abby is a sophomore and Lauren is a senior. We also have another sophomore, Holly Thesing. I think she’s going to be a really strong competitor at the conference, regional and state level. I think she was a consolation finalist last year at states. And then we have another senior, Bianca Perez, who went to states last year. We’re expecting great things from her. A couple of our girls who made regionals for the first time are also coming back — Savannah Matthews and Bella Papendick — and we’re expecting big performances from them, too.

You had a small number of boys compete last year, and you have a small team again this year. What has it been like seeing them grow?

Two of our boys graduated last year, two more boys decided to play other winter sports, and we have three new boys who joined the team who are all new students at Northwood. I’m actually really jazzed about our boys team. The three new boys we got are all year-round swimmers. Two of them are really strong, and I’m expecting to see big things from them. We did take some relays last year, and we had two boys compete at regionals, but I’m looking forward to having some boys at states this year, I think. The two boys who did return from last year are Morgan Turner and Jacob Garrett. They’re at practice everyday. They’ve worked really hard. The team is so small, we kind of think of the boys and girls as one team, and (Morgan and Jacob) are two guys I lean on for leadership. I’m excited to see great things from them.

Sports Editor Jeremy Vernon can be reached at jeremy@chathamnr.com or on Twitter at @jbo_vernon.

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