The Eastern New Mexico News - Serving Clovis, Portales and the Surrounding Communities

Swim coach hired

Clovis hopes to do even better with Westerburg

 

Jamie Cushman

New Clovis High School swim coach Gordy Westerberg directs a swimming drill at the Clovis Aquatic Center on Friday.

CLOVIS — This past year at the high school state championship swim meet, the Clovis team set seven school records and posted the girls' best finish in Wildcat history.

But Vincent DeMaio, then-head coach and now-director for high-performance swimming, still wanted more.

"For us, we've been growing and we're really reaching great heights," de Maio said, "but for me, I knew to go to the next level that we had to bring in a coach that could coach at the next level."

DeMaio said he really began looking to bring someone else in to take over as head coach about three years ago and he has now found his man in Gordy Westerberg.

Westerberg brings with him 36 years of coaching experience in Albuquerque. He said this opportunity in Clovis was too good to pass up.

"It's the first time I've taken over a program — I've taken over about five different programs — but they were all kind of reclamation projects. This was already successful so I'm walking into a completely different situation," Westerberg said.

Westerberg was a math teacher at West Mesa High School for the last 13 years. He was the school's swim coach for 10 years and the last couple years he has coached the Vipers of Albuquerque club team.

DeMaio and Westerberg say he has been a perfect fit in Clovis because the two coaches share the same mindset.

"I always felt he was the best coach in New Mexico. Period. But also, he shares my philosophical approach about a team, a culture," De Maio said. "Our culture here is a culture of excellence. Our culture here is a hard-work culture ... and we have a very shared opinion on that."

"Because we're both strong type A personalities people constantly ask, 'Is it working? Are you guys OK on deck?' ", Westerberg said. "And it's unbelievable because my strengths and his strengths really balance each other out."

DeMaio said he wanted to bring Westerberg to Clovis because of the coach's success at helping swimmers reach the junior national and collegiate levels, the same goals he has for Wildcat swimmers.

The ability to work with junior high students and develop strong swimmers from an early age, something that's unique to Clovis, will be key to reaching that goal, Westerberg said.

"Our vision is in three years every eighth grader will be a state-qualifier," he said. "It's probably going to happen sooner than three years but three years is the goal."

Westerberg will also be teaching math at Clovis High School and said he already feels right at home there, too.

"I was really happy with the way that (Principal) Jay (Brady) treated me the first time we met," Westerberg said. "That's when I knew things were going to be different. It was really nice to get just that warmth."

Now with Westerberg in town, DeMaio wants to continue to grow the program and one day add a state title to the Wildcats' trophy case.

"I think that this is just the next step for our team," De Maio said, "and I am really excited about it."

 

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