Latrobe diving coach Trish Brownlee, who is deaf, said it can be challenging at times to communicate with her divers.
“All of my divers know when they first meet me I’m deaf and accept it,” she said. “They are aware I read lips.
“They even learned (a) few sign languages along the way to have a little fun.” It is working.
First at Derry, then at Latrobe starting in 2016-17, Brownlee’s divers have been among the best in the WPIAL.
Brownlee, 54, of Derry, runs Derry Flip and Twist, which produces a steady stream of divers. She also coaches high school divers whose schools do not have diving boards.
Latrobe swimming and diving coach Grey Arrigonie said Brownlee has a passion for diving.
“She loves everything (about it),” he said. Derry swimming and diving coach Jeff Kelly said Brownlee has a great eye.
“She can watch a dive and see it in slow motion,” he said. “When she finds somebody good, she gets on them.” Kelly said she also has a good sense of humor.
Lisa Miller said because of Brownlee, her daughter, Taylor, is competing on a Division I level and another daughter, Jordyn, is being recruited by college teams.
A Latrobe senior, Jordyn Miller placed eighth in the girls 1-meter event in the WPIAL Class AAA championship meet last season.
“Trish has become much more than a coach to us over the years,” Lisa Miller said. “She loves Taylor and Jordyn as if they were her own. Trish has even traveled to watch Taylor dive (for Ohio). I know we will see her in the stands rooting Jordyn on in her next chapter.”
Jordyn Miller said Brownlee pushes her to be her best. “Trish is the reason I came so far,” she said. “We have grown such a special bond.”
Brownlee, who works as a home health pediatric nurse, has three children. Her daughter, Allison, dove for her at Derry and is a junior swimmer at Delta State.
A former Pitt diver, she was a five-time Big East champion on 1-meter and 3-meter. Her name, Tricia Ney, is embedded in the stones of the school’s Varsity Walk as the winner of the 1988 Panther Award given to an outstanding graduating senior athlete.
“My kids and my diving kids are my world,” Brownlee said. “I hope with the diving lessons, they learned from me about how to treat others (who) may be different (than) you.
“I love my kids because I am their favorite coach regardless of my hearing loss.”