Welcome back: Pugh’s return saved Nanticoke program
Future teacher could face decision between devoting time to studies or coaching.

Paul Sokoloski - Times Leader

The waters rippled with uncertainty at Nanticoke High School, and even from a distance, Stephanie Pugh grew troubled.
It seemed she had just stepped out of the Nanticoke pool when her old high school took a dip into the dilemma of trying to find a new leader.
“I didn’t want to see the swim program collapse, with no head coach,” Pugh said.
So she did something about it.
She applied for the position.
And her decision may have been more difficult than anyone knows.
When she was hired as Nanticoke’s head swim coach for the 2011-12 season, Pugh was a sophomore at Misericordia University – where she spent her freshman year competing on the college swim team.
Suddenly, the daughter of Joseph and Alice Pugh of Nanticoke had an overwhelming workload that forced her to choose between trying to race past opponents and instructing other swimmers how to do it.
“I swam most of my life,” Pugh said. “I really did not know what to do if I wasn’t swimming.”
But her head kept swimming with possibilities for her future.
Pugh is a history and secondary education major at Misericordia with hopes of becoming a teacher.
So she figured, why not get a head start working with students?
“I thought it would be a really good idea to work with high school kids,” Pugh said, “since I’m going to become a high school teacher.”
She began implementing her lessons immediately, sending seven Nanticoke swimmers to the District 2 Swimming and Diving Championships last year.
“Teaching them how I used to swim,” Pugh said.
Interestingly, she had a lot of willing listeners – including girls she called teammates just two seasons before.
“We were on the same relay team (at Nanticoke),” said current Trojans senior Connie Madura, who helped grow the 2012-13 team to 18 swimmers – nearly twice as many as last season’s roster – by running a swim recruiting program in her school as her senior project. “Steph was a really good swimmer back in high school. We all respect whatever advice we get from her. She does a good job.”
At least, the best she can.
Pugh admits this season, her second season coaching the Trojans, has become more difficult.
First, she says, more new faces on the team meant extra effort on her part.
“It’s a lot tougher this year than last year,” said Pugh, who will turn 21 in May. “There were a lot more kids who didn’t know how to swim. And my school work went up drastically.”
She currently has a 40-page essay due by the end of this semester at Misericordia, but that’ll seem like a breeze to Pugh when she begins student-teaching during her senior year in the fall.
“I’ll be spending 40 hours a week at school,” Pugh said.
Which is why she may not last another season as Nanticoke’s coach.
But with Trojans girls swimmers Madura, Sarah Crane and Katherine Marsh headed to district competition later this month, along with Adam Ferrucci from the boys team, Pugh hopes to help them go the distance as long as she’s part of the program.
“I think,” Pugh said of her ambitious endeavor, “it’s paid off.”

Trojan Swimming Capsule
Times Leader

Coach: Stephanie Pugh

Pool: High School

Conference Record: 1-9, fifth

District Finish: 15th (2A)

Top Returning Swimmers: Constance Medura, Katherine Mash, Sarah Carne, Amanda Whitman