Iconic New Trier Swim Coach Wins National Award

Bruce Woodbury has coached and taught math at the high school since the 1970’s; he was recently honored with the National High School Association’s Girls Swimming Coach of the Year Award.

Retiring girls swimming coach Bruce Woodbury was recently selected as the National High School Girls Swimming Coach of the Year.

The honor, bestowed by the National High School Coaches Association (NHSCA), tops off a long and impressive career that likely won’t soon be forgotten.

By all accounts, Woodbury has made a permanent mark during his time coaching and teaching math at the high school since the late 1970’s.

“Bruce is an iconic figure here at New Trier-and he enjoys that status statewide,” said Randy Oberembt, New Trier athletic director.

“He is considered to be one of the most successful swimming coaches across the state-it’s some pretty elite company he is keeping,” Oberembt said. 

Woodbury’s coaching career has had numerous accolades and measurable accomplishments.

According to a press release from New Trier High School, during his career, Woodbury’s swim teams won 11 Illinois High School Association state championships.

The lion’s shares of those wins were consecutive between 1982 and 1988. His teams also won championships again in 2000, 2001, 2011 and 2012.

In addition, the teams he coached racked up eight runner-up finishes and Woodbury was named Coach of the Year 16 time during his entire career.

In all, he coached 100 all-American swimmers, according to the press release.

Woodbury’s hard work coaching and breeding champion swimmers doesn’t make mention of his work away from the pool-and the affect he has had on both students and their families.

“First and foremost, Bruce is a teacher of values to all of the kids he interfaced with-he would say to the girls often that the one thing he could guarantee was that they would not be outworked-and he believed they could win,” Oberembt said. “And they did.”

The close-knit relationships Woodbury built with his swimmers and their families also is notable.

“Bruce had such a gift for relating to students-they and their family members referred to him affectionately as ‘B’,” Oberembt said.

Oberembt said Woodbury developed genuine bonds with students, because their best interests were always his first priority.

Woodbury’s history at New Trier dates long before he started the girls swimming squad in 1977 as a new coach.

He is a New Trier High School graduate, and during his high school years was a member of the New Trier Guard-a group of high school students who teach swimming to community members.

“He has a long standing commitment to see this program continue to flourish, and he continues to participate in it to this day,” Oberembt said.

Though he is officially retiring, Woodbury still plans to be around the swimming program, according to Oberembt.

He will be teaching swimming at New Trier this summer, and will continue to teach young children to swim on the weekends through the New Trier Guard program.

“I know we will see him at the swim meets, because he has a love for the program that won’t let him stay away for too long,” Oberembt said.

Other accomplishments by Woodbury include a standing record from the 1980’s when he coached a boys swimming team who took third in state.

“Bruce will always be a revered and beloved figure here at New Trier,” Oberembt said.

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