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A Valuable Volunteer

Posted 05/20/2016 by Michael Katsman

Alli Brown is a proud coach who is pleased to be a part of the Spartan swim team. photo by Michael Katsman

An impactful swim and dive coach, Alli Brown, joins the Spartan community.

This year, Thomas Jefferson High School has seen a new pair of coaches for the boys’ and girls’ swim and dive teams: Alli Brown has taken on the role of volunteer assistant coach, aiding head coach, Justine Sullivan. Due to financial reasons, funding an extra coach for the swim and dive team was difficult for TJ; however, Brown stepped up to the challenge as a volunteer instead.
Although Brown is the assistant coach, she has many responsibilities in leading the swim team. “[Brown] does the same things as I do,” Sullivan said, “she coaches just as much as I do with the same vigor, except she doesn’t get paid.” Brown comes by the pool deck every day and works with Sullivan to prepare their athletes, beginning warm-ups and guiding the swimmers with starts and dives at events.

In many ways, Brown is the voice of the swim team: “She isn’t afraid to snap swimmers into focus and start the lessons,” sophomore Camy Guenther shared. When attending meets, Brown can often be heard yelling words of encouragement or directing swimmers to achieve their goals they set for their events. “She doesn’t give up on the team,” said sophomore Elijah Thomas, adding, “she tries to make us the best possible swimmers that we can be.” Brown balances the team through the way she coaches, mainly focusing on those who need help on technique rather than endurance training. She is attentive to the needs of Sullivan, but the athletes are what she concentrates on the most. “She likes to work step-by-step to help improve something wrong. She can be rough sometimes, but she does it all in good intent,” commented junior and boys’ captain Daniel Orzescu.

As a former swimmer, Brown connects with the athletes she coaches, utilizing her own knowledge and experience to aid in the physical education of TJ’s swim team. Because she experienced the demands of swimming when she was in high school, she knows how to support her team with relatable instruction. For example, butterfly, commonly referred to as the hardest stroke, is broken down step-by step-into a straightforward stroke. “Butterfly was my favorite stroke, so I want to pass that on to some swimmers,” Brown said. Seeing the athletes improve from the beginning to end of the season and bonding with them is what keeps Brown motivated to continue coaching.

Brown had many goals going into the season, one of which was to help improve swimmers’ goal times, and to motivate them to beat those goal times to make it to state. Brown hopes to make many connections with the swimmers to ensure that they stay engaged while enjoying the sport. In addition, Brown wants to continue to learn with the athletes and improve her own technique while helping them achieve their goals. “You can never stop learning as a coach yourself,” Brown stated. Brown previously attended business school, but after a few years of learning, decided to change her occupation and begin learning from coaching instead. Brown enjoyed swimming and lacrosse before cracking down on coaching.

Coaching alongside Sullivan, Brown enjoys her time in the Spartan community, hoping to be an active member in years to come. She hopes to see support for TJ’s swim and dive team from the TJ community, with students attending swimathons or events to represent TJ and support swimmers. “These swimathons are being held so we can raise some money for the team and Alli,” added Sullivan. Hopefully through the help of the Spartan community, Brown can continue to benefit swimmers with a healthy amount of support and education.