Sports Profile of the Week: Assistant Coach Rachel Lee

By: Reem Abou Elenian

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This fall, the Allegheny athletic department welcomed North Coast Athletic Conference alumna Rachel Lee to its staff to work as an assistant swimming and diving coach.

Before coming to Allegheny, Lee worked as an assistant coach at the Hickory Foundation YMCA in N.C. There, she worked with about 50 swimmers ranging between the ages of six and 17.

“I really didn’t start swimming until I was ten,” she said, “which is kind of late for competitive swimming.”

She used to play soccer like her older siblings until one of her friends told her that she was on the swimming team.

“I was competitive. I said ‘Well, if she said she’s on the swim team then I can be on the swim team.’ So that is how I started and now I’m here,” Lee said.

A graduate of Wittenberg, Lee swam competitively there and was a business major and music minor. Following her graduation, worked as a camp counselor at the 2010 Kenyon College Total Performance Swim Camp. Lee also pursued her business interests, taking an unpaid internship.

“It was nice to do both at the same time, just to see what I like about business and what I liked more about coaching,” Lee said. “I kind of leaned more towards coaching just because when I was starting off my internship I was just sitting at a desk all day long and couldn’t really do a whole lot, but coaching, I had control over it. I was impacting kids. It was more fun. I could walk around, I was outside. That was kind of an eye-opener just to be able to do both at once.”

At the end of that summer internship, she went to the Olympics in London.

“I really like sports. I really like this,” she told herself after that trip.

She winded up getting a full-time position coaching in her hometown, Hickory, N.C. at the YMCA, where she worked with swimmers from beginning to expert levels.

“I didn’t really have a great social environment,” Lee said. “I wanted to be more around people my age. My coworkers were in their forties. I wanted to go out and do something new.”

When she heard about a job opening at Allegheny College from her previous coach in Wittenberg, she applied. Because she competed against Allegheny while at Wittenberg, she was familiar with them.

“I always remember them having a lot of fun,” she said. “When I came here for my interview, I felt that same kind of vibe. They wanted to have fun, but they were here to win as well. It seemed like a good fit, a good place to learn more.”

Lee is not sure about what to do in the future. She still thinks about going back to business and taking the MBA.She loves coaching, but feels that it is a demanding career.

“Coaching can be really tough, and you have to love it,” said Lee. “Right now it is fine because I don’t have a family or anything like that. But I think on the long term I would like to do something more administrative, but I think I’m definitely more passionate about [coaching], and I have a hard time working for things I am not passionate about.”