For Amelia Wolfgramm, Rowland Hall's new Upper School swim coach, this season didn't go quite as she expected. "Coming in as a rookie coach," she explained, "my ultimate goal was to create an environment where my student-athletes wanted to come to practice and were comfortable being themselves." However, when 25 swimmers showed up for the first day of practice—she had been expecting about half as many—Coach Wolfgramm realized her goals and expectations would need adjusting.
Along with her assistant coaches, Hope Feliciano and Cole Jackman, she established efficient training schedules that could accommodate the diverse skill levels of their athletes, many of whom never swam competitively prior to this season. Rowland Hall shares a pool for practice and typically only has three lanes available, which posed a challenge for the growing team. According to Coach Wolfgramm, "Our newer swimmers really had to stay focused in order to learn the strokes and techniques, while our more experienced swimmers had to be adamant and intentional with every set in order to have a great workout every day."
Coach Wolfgramm's youth and background as a competitive swimmer—first at Judge Memorial and then at West High, followed by two years at BYU—helped her relate to Rowland Hall students. Still, she established rules and boundaries from day one. She prioritized hard work and made the team's motto "effort is observable," and she held every swimmer accountable, at every practice and every meet. Unsurprisingly, she cited the improvements made by individual athletes and the entire team as her greatest source of pride this season.
So while there was cause for celebration when the girls team captured both the Region 13 and 3A State titles—a first for Rowland Hall's swim program—both coaches and students recognized that the season amounted to much more than a championship.
"Throughout all four years swimming for Rowland Hall, it was never about winning," senior and co-captain Sophie Hannah said. "It was about supporting each other, beating your previous times, and pushing yourself." Sophie cherishes her team's state title "not because we beat the other teams, but because it was a direct representation of our persistence."
Sophie also pointed to her co-captain Bella Goh achieving her longtime goal of swimming the 100m freestyle in under one minute as a season highlight, especially since the two have watched each other's progression over the past four years.
That level of camaraderie and support between teammates was key to their success, according to Coach Wolfgramm, and it extended to the boys team as well—at the state tournament, they placed 10th after competing against some much larger teams. She emphasized that the effort demonstrated by all swimmers created a ripple effect, with teammates challenging one another to exceed their own expectations.
In addition to the team's demonstrated effort and encouragement for each other, Coach Wolfgramm cited patience as a determining factor in the girls performance at the state championship, which included—in addition to the state title—first-place finishes in the 200m and 400m freestyle relays, and a first-place finish in the individual 50m freestyle by sophomore Ella Vitek. "Behind every great success story are challenging and trying times," Coach Wolfgramm said, recognizing the toll hard practices and meets can take on high school students. In the end, though, she wants them to focus on the experiences they shared and how far they came together.
"They were a young team, and I hope they can remember that anything is possible if they all come together to support and encourage each other."
Update, April 13, 2018: Preps Utah named Amelia Wolfgram a girls team coach of the week. Congrats!