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Jen Godlewski head shot


BLOOMINGTON — Coaches have two family trees — their real one and their professional one, the latter because coaches tend to coach like their coach.

So friends of former Illinois State coach Archie Harris, who passed away in April at age 92, will continue to see his imprint at Bloomington High School now that Jen Godlewski has been hired to replace Bob Loy as the head coach of the girls and boys programs.

Loy was coached by Harris as was Steve Paska, who coached Godlewski at ISU.

"That might be one of the reasons we scarily think alike," quipped the 44-year-old Godlewksi. "We all link back somehow or another to the Archie Harris days."

Loy ended a 38-year career as the BHS head coach last winter, but he'll remain with the program as the head diving coach.

"Although I feel like I'm very qualified, it still will be intimidating to live up to the same kind of success that he's had," Godlewski said.

"It's wonderful that he's there to help ease the transition because he's been doing it for 38 years."

As head coach of the Bloomington-Normal Swim Club, Godlewski is familiar with the local swimming scene. Loy is among her BNSC assistant coaches.

Godlewski's son, Jon, was a freshman member of Loy's final BHS team. Her younger daughter, Samantha, will one day join the program.

"I wanted to make sure the quality of the program stays strong as Bob is easing into retirement," Godlewski said.

Prior to the BNSC, Godlewski was the head coach at Truman State University where she helped the Bulldogs produce seven NCAA Division II All-American swimmers. Before that, she was an ISU assistant coach under Paska.

Earlier, Godlewski was the head boys coach at Oak Forest High School, where she helped the Bengals win two league titles, their first in over 12 years.

In high school, she was a three-time state qualifier at Oak Forest. As a Redbird, she became a captain and team MVP while setting six school records.

"One thing that stood out about her is she's got a lot of excellent experience at a lot of different levels," said BHS athletic director Tony Bauman. "Following someone like Coach Loy, who has been our program leader for such a long time, it was important to us to get somebody in who has some experience at the college level as well as the high school level because we do have some competitive swimmers returning next year who need a strong coach.

"She's familiar with some of our athletes. Her personality and her temperament seems to be a good fit, too, for our athletes. I think she'll be one who can challenge them and push them."

Loy replaces John Becker, who retired after 22 years as the BHS diving coach. The team's other assistant coach will be teacher Jill Dorbeck. Godlewski is counting on Loy for logistical help.

"We're hosting the girls conference meet," she said. "We're also hosting the boys Intercity ... plus we have invitationals, and we have several meets that are out of town as far as needing hotel rooms and stuff."

Among Godlewski's goals are to help swimmers grow and to boost the team's roster size.

"We've got several girls and boys who are qualified for state (time wise) or on the verge of qualifying for state so we'd like to get them there or have them place at state," she said.

"Right now we're fairly low on numbers. We'd like to increase the program throughout the next few years and hopefully double that."

Bauman is bullish about the program's future.

"We know we lost a legend in the swimming area for our community," he said. "I feel lucky to find someone like Jen who is going to take on the program. I think we'll be able to pick up where Bob left off."

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Follow Randy Sharer on Twitter: @PG_sharer



Reporter for Lee Enterprises Central Illinois.

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