Sterling, Va. — Four years of NCAA swimming experience, a three-time All-American, a Mary Washington and Capital Athletic Conference (CAC) record-holder in three events, a Rookie of the Year award, a two-time swimmer of the year in the CAC, and the new head coach for the Park View High School swim team. This season, Park View High School graduate Amber Kerico returned to her alma mater to take the reins of the Patriots’ swim program.
Kerico was a member of the Park View swim team from 2007-2010. Then she attended Liberty University – where she was a member of the swim team for one year – before transferring to the University of Mary Washington – where she would finish out her collegiate career and where she currently holds school and conference records in the 100-meter butterfly (55.77), 100-meter breaststroke (1:03.91) and 200-meter breaststroke (2:17.54).
LoCoSports managing editor Kyle Gotimer sat down with Kerico to give us the scoop: Inside the huddle.
Kyle Gotimer: In your first year coaching at Park View, you’ve already started to turn the Patriots program around. What has been your key to success and how will it help the future of Park View swimming?
Amber Kerico: Thank you for the kind words, Kyle! I have to be honest, these swimmers have gone through a lot of coaching changes in the past few years and that’s extremely difficult for any program. I came in knowing that and knowing that they wanted a coach who cared for them and had plans to stay for the long run; they respect that. I love each and every one of these kids in their own way, and I try and push them past the limits their previous coaches gave them because they want to be successful. Park View athletes have more heart and spirit than any other high school in Virginia. What I provide for them, they return to me two-fold and that makes them extremely rewarding to coach.
Gotimer: You were one of those heart-and-spirit Patriot swimmers at Park View less than a decade ago. What changes did you have to make to adjust from swimming to coaching at your alma mater in such a short period of time?
Kerico: There wasn’t much of a change because most of these athletes have all known me as their coach since they were in elementary school. Half of the swimmers swam for Sterling Park Seahawks back in the day, so really coaching them came full circle as many of the swimmers will finish off their last season with me as a coach.
Gotimer: Your mom coached cheer and your dad coached football, swim and track at Park View, and now you’re coaching. How has their coaching experience affected you as a coach?
Kerico: Both of my parents have shown me the importance of pouring compassion and knowledge to our youth. I remember endless times when fully grown adults would approach my parents and call them coach, still remembering the positive influence they had on their lives. Every single person in my family has been a coach in Sterling Park, and they wouldn’t trade the memories for anything. Then, to pull from my own experiences, the most influential people in my lives were coaches and I cannot repay them for all the love and time they put into me. Coaching is so much more than a job because you also end up being a mentor, counselor and advocate.
Gotimer: If you could go back to before your collegiate swimming career and give yourself one piece of advice, what advice would you give and why?
Kerico: I would go back and tell myself to relax and enjoy every moment. Many competitive swimmers get tunnel vision on a goal and don’t enjoy the sport until they reach that achievement. What I noticed was that I achieved my goals when I set smaller goals but didn’t put the pressure on myself to reach the big goal. Baby stepping towards success with a plan where you will get the most out of your sport while enjoying the journey.
Gotimer: We’ve heard rumors you are an everyday hero. If you could choose one superpower, what power would you choose and why?
Kerico: This was the hardest question you asked me. I think I would pick super strength because I’ve always been a weight room junkie, and there is something so satisfying about picking up a lot of weight.