Recharge, recruiting, reflection punctuate coaches’ summers

Nick Wood

Much like their student athletes, Whitman varsity coaches use the summer as a time to recuperate and recharge.

“It’s a very seasonal lifestyle we have,” head swimming coach Jenn Blomme shared. “It’s very intense in season or when we’re preparing for the season.”

The summer allows for a break from this intensity and gives coaches time to relax.

“I want to meet a lot of fish and see a lot of trees,” men’s tennis coach Jeff Northam said of his summer plans.

“I try to take a little bit of time to regenerate so I can bring the full extent of my positive energy and focus to the team in the fall season,” said volleyball coach Carolyn Papineau. “But the recruiting piece never stops.”

Coaches are constantly working to establish and maintain communication with potential recruits; the summer is no exception.

“Ideally we are already starting to make contact with juniors, and we continue through the summer trying to establish those relationships so we can start engaging more visits in the fall,” Blomme said.

By running a recruit camp in June, Northam brings potential tennis recruits to Whitman.

“A lot of kids will come play on campus, which I hope will translate to them applying down the road,” he said. “They get to be here and play, and the campus is beautiful in the summer.”

Papineau will also be hosting a volleyball invite camp for potentially interested recruits. This year is the second time she is hosting the camp.

“Last year it was really successful. It is very similar to what [the participants] would experience as they come in as first-years in preseason.”

In addition to attracting potential recruits, the camp familiarizes the athletes with what preseason training is like at Whitman.

“It’ll look very familiar to them. We’ll be cooking our meals together like we did in camp, they’ll be familiar with the gym space and most importantly, they’ll know some of our practice routine and training expectations,” she said.

In addition to recruiting, the summer also offers coaches the opportunity to get involved in their respective sports on a national level.

As one of the swim coaching members of the NCAA committee, Blomme travels yearly to NCAA headquarters Indianapolis, Ind. to meet with the governing body.

“That’s where all the rules to the sport are voted on, including general legislation and conduct of the sport at DIII,” she said.

Head women’s tennis coach John Hein will team up with Northam to coach the 16 national team in Waco, Texas. This is the second summer the duo will have coached this group of high-performing 16-year-olds. (Hein has participated in the program for three years.) The experience allows them the chance to coach and get to know some of the top young players in the Pacific Northwest. The long, hot weekend provides valuable coaching experience, and there is always the potential for recruiting.

“We get a chance to see the very best players. A lot of these kids are going to go Division I, but hopefully something like that could translate into some students coming here,” Northam said.

Papineau, who has worked for many years at regional high performance camps in the Seattle area, has been invited this summer to participate in the program on a national level. This opportunity is multifaceted in its benefits.

“It’s a recruiting tool and also a tool for me to work with some very gifted coaches, and (potentially) some of the USA national team staff and that knowledge I will definitely bring back to the program here at Whitman.”

Despite the continued work over the summer, the student-free months still afford them more free time to take a step back from the rigors of in-season coaching. The separation from their athletes gives them a chance to get excited about the upcoming season.

“It’s a recharge. Not being able to coach my players gets me so fired up for the fall,” Hein said.

“I learned a long time ago that I’m a much better coach in August and September if I’m not working 12 hours a day all summer,” Blomme said. “Yes we have a lot to do but it’s also a really good time to get a little more space and reflection.”