The St. Stanislaus Rock-a-chaws and the Our Lady Academy Crescents will have a new mentor leading the swimmers for the two schools for the 2019 season and her name is Amanda Black. She replaces Aaron Levinson who has coached the teams for the past nine seasons.
Black comes over to the SSC/OLA swim team from Bayou Bluff Tennis Club in Gulfport where she has helmed that club's swim team since May 2017.
Black commented, "When we moved to the Mississippi Gulf Coast, we came here with the intention of living here permanently while our family grew up. Once we arrived, I began to search how I could involve myself in the community and what swimming was like down here. The sport had given me so much when I swam competitively in the Jackson area for the Mississippi Makos. First, I got involved with the Bayou Bluff Tennis Club's team and Missy Rodriguez who is also the coach for the Gulfport High School team. She helped get acquainted with the area and the people. One of the parents mentioned to me that OLA had an opening for a swim coach and it took off from there."
Black will not be a full-time faculty member at OLA or St. Stanislaus but rather a para-professional coaching the swim teams.
Black added, "While I have coached a few of the girls in the summer program, I have had the opportunity to see several of the swimmers I will be coaching from afar at several of the meets. Coach Rodriguez has also assisted me in recognizing a few of the swimmers, as well. The one thing I hope to pass on to the young people I will be coaching is I want them to love the sport."
Black was a competitive swimmer for the Mississippi Makos for about 10 years. She received her degree in English with an emphasis in linguistics and English as a Second Language from Mississippi State University. After college, she returned to the Jackson area and was an assistant coach for the Makos and also worked as the swim coach for the Courthouse Racquet & Fitness Club.
Black added, "I want to teach the swimmers to love and embrace the sport for what it can do for their lifestyle. It is a solo sport with a team mindset. It can teach you a lot about yourself. I want them to see how far they can go. I am looking forward to the next few weeks as I have the opportunity to meet the team members and their parents."
OLA principal Marilyn Pigott stated, "We are excited to have Ms. Black join us as our swim coach for the 2019 swim season. We look forward to her expertise and knowledge and what it will bring to our swimmers."
The OLA Crescents finished second overall in Class I at the state championship meet with 96 points behind state champion Saint Andrews Episcopal with 109 points. It was OLA's highest finish in program history. SSC placed third overall in Class I with 97 points behind state champion St. Joseph Catholic with 137 points and runner-up Saint Andrews Episcopal with 101 points. SSC won the Class I state title in 2016.
Teams may begin swim practice on July 29th according to the 2019-20 sports calendar released by the Mississippi High School Activities Association.