Wheeling Central Swim Coach Jeani Humpe Named NFHS Coach of the Year
WHEELING — Fifteen years ago, Jeani Humpe was coaching a summer swim league when she received a random phone call that changed her life.
On the other end of that call was former Wheeling Central athletic director and current Maroon Knights’ football coach Mike Young, who asked her to become the new swim coach at Wheeling Central.
Now, 15 years later, Humpe has made a difference in the school and the swimming community and was honored by the WVSSAC at last week’s state swim meet when she was recognized as the NFHS Coaches Association Coach of the Year for swimming.
It’s Humpe’s first time receiving the award.
“I was surprised but thankful,” Humpe said. “This year’s been unknown and to finally have a season felt like closure because these kids have worked so hard.”
Humpe began coaching because her daughters started swimming but her love for teaching kids to swim has become her motivation.
“My coaching career started started 22 years ago when my oldest daughter joined a summer swim team and I was asked to help out with the little ones since I swam on the team when I was younger,” Humpe said. “From there, my older two daughters joined the Wheeling YMCA team when they were 8 and 5. Again, I was asked to help.
“Being part of the swim community has been an accomplishment. I wouldn’t know what to do without swimming. I’ve been doing it for over 20 years and I have an 11-year old who will eventually swim and when she graduates I still plan on coaching.”
Along with her passion for swimming and coaching, Humpe’s love for Wheeling Central has grown drastically throughout the years.
“Out of the blue, 15 years ago, I received a telephone call from Wheeling Central athletic director Mike Young, asking if I would consider becoming the head swimming coach,” Humpe said. “Little did I know, I would have formed such a great family relationship with the school, the swimmers and the parents. I have been given this opportunity to build not just a team, but a family. CCHS has been my family for 15 years and hopefully many more.
“Three of my four daughters have walked or are currently walking the halls of Central and in three years, the youngest will follow in her sisters’ footsteps.”
Humpe’s daughter, JulieAnne, is a freshman for the Maroon Knights’ swim team and gave her mother one of the highlights of the season.
“The most recent highlight of my coaching experience happened at this year’s Region One meet when my daughter broke two of her older sisters’ records that were set in 2014,” Coach Humpe said. “The smile on her face knowing she was on that board with her sisters was priceless.
“Overall, the highlights of my coaching career would be seeing the new swimmers master a new stroke, the smile on a swimmer’s face when they swim a best time and when one of my children, which is the entire team, qualifies for the state meet.”
Another life-changing moment for Coach Humpe came 18 years ago when she began coaching the YMCA Cardinal Aquatic team.
“One of my biggest mentors was actually (Linsly) coach Bill Brubaker,” Coach Humpe said. “He’s the one who got me started with the YMCA Cardinal Aquatic team 18 years ago.”
Although breaking records and winning state titles are always goals heading into a season, Coach Humpe has another goal for herself when it comes to coaching, as well.
“My biggest goal is to teach every person that I come across how to swim,” Coach Humpe said. “I think it’s very crucial for anybody and everybody to learn how to swim.
“That’s what I do with my summer rec league. It’s basically learn how to swim. We take them from ages 3-18 and we teach them how to swim.”