“Loyalty leaves a legacy,” recited Diana Pimer, who read this quote shortly after joining the coaching staff of the team she once swam for.
Two Keene State College alumni have come back to their alma mater, trading in their goggles for a whistle. Chris Woolridge, Class of 04’, has taken the helm of the KSC swim program following the departure of former head coach, Jack Fabian. In addition to Woolridge, Pimer has been brought in as an assistant coach.
Shortly after the 2014 season, Jack Fabian left KSC after receiving an offer to coach the U.S. Paralympic Swim Team at their training facility in Colorado City, CO.
With Fabian gone, a void in the head coaching position was left, an open position and an open opportunity.
Fabian recommended Woolridge himself to fill his place on the pool deck. Fabian is confident that Woolridge will be able to continue to allow KSC Swimming to excel.
“He’s produced some of the best swimmers in the East…He gets it, he understands what fast swimming is… we’re [KSC] really lucky to get him,” Fabian said.
Packing up shop and moving back to Keene was a quick decision for Woolridge, and he realized that if he was going to make the transition, he’d have to be in it for the long haul and go all-in.
“I thought about it for about a day,” Woolridge said. He continued, “I basically quit my other career to come here and do this. I kind of looked at that as betting on myself and saying, ‘alright, come in, do a good job, and continue to lead this program afterwards,’ so that’s my goal.”
Woolridge had high praise for his predecessor and colleague.
”He walked the walk,” Woolridge said.
KSC’s swim program has obtained numerous LEC titles, including nine consecutive titles by the women’s squad, and five qualifiers for the NCAA Division-III Championship just last year, according to the Keene State College Athletics website.
According to Woolridge, the level of competition produced by Fabian-coached swimmers is at another level compared to when he was a swimmer at KSC.
“The level of the program was nowhere near where it is now,” Woolridge said.
Although Woolridge is a new face to many of the swimmers at KSC, senior captain Madison Sestak said she’s optimistic about the coaching switch.
“Chris seems like he’s going to do a very good job. I think we’re all really excited to see what the season is going to look like once we get started,” Sestak said.
Sestak, who was a teammate of Pimer, said the new assistant coach will fit right into her position.
“[Pimer] was an amazing captain… in my mind, she always had that coaching type of essence about her. She really took charge of the team. I think she’s going to do a really really good job at being a coach… I think a lot of us are really excited about it,” Sestak said.
Fabian also had high remarks for Pimer, who he coached her entire college career.
“Diana will function at a very high level for a first year assistant coach… She cares deeply about the team, she’s very dedicated to it,” Fabian said.
Pimer, who had her own share of success while sporting a KSC swimsuit, is now learning the ins and outs of coaching.
“It’s interesting to learn everything that goes on behind the scenes,” Pimer said.
As the season prepares to get underway, the two new coaches are ready to start in a new, but still very familiar environment.
“As an alumni of the school and of the program, I’ve been excited to see how it’s grown since I left, and I’m just excited to be a part of that and continue building it,” Woolridge said.
Pimer shares the same enthusiasm as her fellow KSC Alumni.
“I think that I’m very lucky to still be able to be here in Keene,” Pimer said. She continued, “There isn’t another program that I would want to coach. If I’m going to help college swimmers progress and grow, I want it to be the team that I was a part of.”
Jacob can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org