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East Ridge under new leadership in the pool

Kathy Madden is entering his first season as the Raptors’ head coach. (Bulletin photos by Jace Frederick)

It’s seemingly been an epidemic this season as first-year coaches have popped up all across the Suburban East Conference. This epidemic has shown no bounds as almost every school has seen at least a few new faces take over different programs.

East Ridge is no exception as Kathy Madden enters Year 1 with the girls swimming and diving program. She has some help in the transition as Nate Broadbridge serves as the primary coach of the diving team for the Raptors.

That said it’s mostly new to Madden.

She took over the program earlier this year, and didn’t have much contact with her team until practices started a few weeks ago.

“It’s gone really well so far,” Madden said. “Though we’re a really young team, we have a good core of returning swimmers that have taken charge and taken younger swimmers under their wings a little bit. It looks like we’re going to be a really solid team.”

Madden, who works with the swimmers, said she hasn’t had much time with the divers on the squad yet. That’s where Broadbridge comes in.

“He’s awesome and I know he has them ready for the season,” Madden said. “It’s still a learning process for all of us and as the season progresses I know we’ll really start to figure out what we’ve got.”

East Ridge lost a number of talented contributors from last year’s team and captains Emily Vahl, Katie Penvose, and Kayla Jambor have helped ease the transition going into this season. Madden said while she hasn’t had trouble earning the respect of the team, she entered this season with a main focus on earning the trust of the team as a whole.

“That kind of starts with the veterans on the team,” Madden said. “We let them know that even though we are seasoned, knowledgeable coaches, this is still their team and we are going to guide them to be the best swimmers and divers they can be this year.”

Madden said the team appears in good shape after the first meet of the season. Though she wouldn’t speculate on end of the year results, she said the team has already shown tons of positives.

“We’re really impressed with the work ethic that we’ve seen from our girls already in the first week or so,” Madden said. “They’ve given us 110 percent every day so far and we’re just hoping that continues. If that does we’ll be in a great position come the end of the season.”