Friday, March 18, 2011

Georgia's Secret Weapon- Jerry Champer

"We're number one!" or a subtle threat?
I am betting on Georgia to win the Women's NCAA Championships this week.  Not because Jack Bauerle knows what he is doing.  Of course, he does.  Not because they have insane depth and can do things like put three girls in the top 8 of the 500.  

To put it simply... it is because they have crazy bad-ass former Viking Jerry Champer on their staff.  It is hard to see the power this man wields in the picture above.  His shiny head barely peeks out from behind his fellow assistant coach there, but look closely at the way he is holding out that finger.  He is about to jab that 'number one' into someone's eye.  Notice the raised eyebrow and the way his mouth is sneering.  He is not celebrating their success... he is laying down a threat to all of the other teams who think they have a shot at the NCAA team title.

Trust me.  I have seen that look directed at me.

Jerry Champer was my coach at the Viking Swim Club and PHS in Petersburg, Alaska from 1989-92.  He launched a successful career on the back of my talent. (just kidding!)  It was his first real coaching gig, as he came to us straight out of Wisconsin- LaCrosse.  He wasn't old enough to drive the rental car at state my sophomore year.  Now that I am a little older I can see more clearly what a great job he did for us, and especially for me as his role far transcended mere coaching after my father passed away and I sorely needed a mentor in my life to help me stay on track.  I was such a space case back then... I hope Jerry understands how much I appreciate him now. I can only hope his job has gotten easier since he moved on!  

This was quite a crew... five went on to swim D1 at Northern AZ, Western Illinois, MO State, San Diego and Auburn.  I believe there were five AK state record holders in that pic.  Not bad for an island with a population of 3000!
Jerry's sense of humor is tremendous and he was the most convincing cow I had ever seen for Halloween.  I have had some really great stories to tell that center around Jerry.  If you know him, ask about the time one of our seniors got a hold of the keys to the rental van, and definitely ask about the time our plane couldn't land to pick us up to travel to Anchorage for the state meet. 

This was the most embarrasing picture I could find.  If you see Jerry on deck this weekend in Austin, be sure to let him know I posted this and tell him I said 'good luck' to all his girls. 

Enjoy, Jerry!  Once a Viking, always a Viking!

We tried to fight off his vicious rampage with the only weapon we had handy.  It didn't even slow him down.



  1. i got a childhood teammate who has been a long time asst coach at Georgia... but sorry.. its gunna be a pac10 team this year. in fact the pac will be 4 or the top 5 and may very possibly finish up #1&2 ;)

  2. did you guys swim out of NAU in flagstaff? ...i have had the opportunity to run some very fun and productive high altitude camps there. Great place. Small town teams are some the most overlooked gold minds in US swimming. Not where i would have expected a viking to be raised.

  3. nah... the pics were from Southeast Alaska, and I am not sure why Jerry has on the NAU shirt, but Aaron Dean is in that pic and he did pretty well in Flagstaff from '92-96.

  4. this is the best picture I've seen in a VERY long time. HA!