Amanda (Howard) Caldwell didn't always want to be a coach.
However, the 2001 Martins Ferry graduate loved swimming so much that she realized during her collegiate days at Youngstown State University what an impact coaches can have on their athletes that she made the decision to try to pursue the profession.
A little more than a week ago, Caldwell continued her climb up the coaching ladder when Rice University formally announced her as the new Owls' chief assistant.
"It's thrilling," Caldwell said via email. "It's been a goal of mine to coach college swimming, so to be in Texas and working with these swimmers at Rice, I'm on a coaching Cloud 9."
Caldwell was encouraged to apply for the position by her husband, Beau, who is also a swimming coach.
"My husband and I were trying to balance our career goals, while being closer to family and friends," Caldwell said. "I have an aunt, some cousins, my sister-in-law and several friends from college all living in the Houston area."
In early April, Caldwell's husband was surfing the Internet and saw the job posting and immediately encouraged her to apply.
"I applied and got a call the next week from the head coach (Seth Huston) for a phone interview," Caldwell recalled.
The next week, Caldwell got a call from Huston again wanting her to fly to Houston for a face-to-face interview.
"I'd done a handful of interviews, but this one was pretty intense with multiple interviews and meeting several members of the athletic department over the course of the 24 hours I was there," Caldwell said. "I had never been to the Rice campus until then, but I loved it as soon as we drove in from the airport."
Caldwell, who is a certified member of the American Swim Coaches Association and United States Swimming, got a taste of collegiate coaching soon after leaving the Youngstown State program when she interned at Lock Haven University in Pennsylvania.
This past season, Caldwell served as a volunteer assistant at Georgia Tech University in Atlanta. She also worked with the Dynamo Swimming Club. Her main duties with the Yellow Jackets were with the distance swimmers, but her new role will deal with all of the strokes and distances.
"Coach Huston and I will share a lot of the duties," Caldwell said. "We're both proficient at teaching each of the four strokes and coaching different distances."
Along with the in-pool work, Caldwell will also work with dryland training, academic progress, NCAA compliance, recruiting, fundraising and community service.
"Academically and athletically, Rice has a similar profile to Georgia Tech," Howard said. "I feel confident that I can make a difference in the Rice program as a full-time coach."
Caldwell has been watching the Olympic Trials with great anticipation. And not just because she's a swimming junkie.
Three of her former distance swimmers at the Georgia Tech qualified for this past week's events in Omaha.
Caldwell, who was a four-year letterman for YSU, also had an internship at the U.S. Olympic Training Center and she's worked numerous swimming camps, including the University of Texas, which is where she met her eventual husband in 2005.
While totally stoked for the opportunity, Caldwell isn't about to rest on her goals of ultimately becoming a head swimming coach at the Division I level. However, she's not looking to rush things, either.
"Ultimately, my goal is to become a head coach, but until then, I am looking forward to helping the Lady Owls in the pool and getting them back to the NCAA Championships," Caldwell said.
Amanda's parents - Jim and Bobbi Howard - still reside in the Ohio Valley.
Staskey can be reached at email@example.com