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Gila Ridge's Reh has eyes on prize
The expectations for Emily Reh were high — maybe they were too high.
Entering the 2009 5A-II State Swim and Dive Championship, the Hawks junior was the top-seeded swimmer in the 50-meter freestyle and slated No. 6 in the 100 free. If she took gold in either event, it would have been the first state title in Gila Ridge's history. She knew what the possibilities were, but she had a difficult time putting them in perspective.
“It was so much pressure and I started to get really nervous,” said Reh, recalling her time at the state meet. “When I didn't get first in my (preliminary race), I started to psych myself out and my confidence just started to deteriorate.”
Reh placed fifth in the 50 free and finished eighth in the 100 free as the Hawks girls left the meet in 12th place overall.
Despite her two top 10 finishes, Reh was unfulfilled by the results. Her expectations included a state title.
“I kind of felt like I was a letdown to my team,” she said.
Now, Reh enters her senior season with unfinished business and her sights on the 50 free title that drifted by last year. This year, however, she'll be doing so under new supervision.
Former Gila Ridge swim coach Rachel Eggers left the school in July to take over the vacant athletic director position at Yuma High. A few days after accepting the position, Eggers called her former pupil to tell her about the move.
“She told me ‘You're not going to like this news,'” Reh said.
Eggers explained that it was a unique opportunity, one that she couldn't turn down. Reh congratulated her now-former coach but couldn't help feeling disappointed.
“I'm really happy for her,” Reh said. “But I was so sad.”
Eggers' departure came around the same time that Yuma Heat coach Alan Anderson also resigned from his position, leaving Reh without a coach on either of her swim teams.
Still she continued to train, with the goal of a state title and collegiate scholarships on her mind. She set a personal goal for the 50 free, to be at the 23-second mark by the time of the state meet. She finished that distance on Tuesday in 25.59 seconds.
As Reh worked on coaching herself, Gila Ridge sought a new coach for the team.
As July continued and the school was still without a coach, Reh's parents became skeptical about the situation. Her father, Ken Reh, thought that the program may even be discontinued.
“We had jokingly talked with her about (transferring),” he said of his conversation with Emily. “That was nothing serious.”
As school began, the Hawks were still without a coach and that continued until the last week of August. That was when Heather LaVin took over the position. A former swimming instructor in Glendale, LaVin hit the ground running, helping her team pick up a sweep victory during a dual meet at Yuma High on Tuesday.
While Emily Reh hasn't had a lot of time to work with her new coach, she's excited about the possibilities.
“She's got a lot of enthusiasm and a lot of great ideas for this year,” Reh said. “I think once I get used to her, we're just going to be amazing.”