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Posts Tagged ‘Amber Wyman’

Amber Wyman congratulates daughter Ayden. (Morgan White photo)

“My heart is happy!!! She is the perfect match for the team!!!”

You can count Elizabeth Bitting as Amber Wyman’s biggest fan, as the latter follows in the former’s footsteps as Coupeville Middle School cross country coach.

The position came open recently, when Bitting bounced up to run the high school harrier program, and Wyman’s hire will be official once approved by the school board at this Thursday’s meeting.

The mother of three Wolf athletes — Tate, Ayden, and Devon — she returns the compliments to Coupeville’s running guru.

“I will be working closely with Coach Bitting, because anyone who knows and has worked with her knows what a fantastic coach she is!” Wyman said.

“I’m not sure I would have taken this job had she not been here to show me such a great example; she is definitely my inspiration!”

As she takes over the job, Wyman is excited to give young athletes an opportunity she herself never had.

“I was never a student-athlete,” she said. “I was that reluctant student that never had the benefit of playing sports.

“I wanted to try out for volleyball in high school, but I let my fears and insecurities keep me from playing or trying out for anything. That is one of my biggest regrets!”

Wyman did become an athlete herself, but later in life.

Two months after giving birth to her middle child in 2007, she found herself being both a supporter and an active participant in getting ready for a triathlon.

“My friend Holley visited and said that she had decided to train for a triathlon. I just immediately said, “I’ll join you!” even if she didn’t ask,” Wyman said with a laugh.

She made her debut in the Whidbey Island Triathlon, which was memorable for many reasons.

“I came in almost last and had to step across the finish line and immediately breast feed Ayden, who had refused the bottle from my husband the entire time.”

From that beginning has come appearances in multiple sprint triathlons, 5K, 10K, and 15K races, and “the one and only, memorable half marathon in Napa.”

“So, while it came late for me, I have been out there!” Wyman said.

The coaching bug bit when her children first became soccer players, with things taking a big jump forward when Coupeville schools revived their cross country programs in 2018.

“My husband was excited that someone was doing ‘his’ sport, and Coach Bitting coached Tate,” Wyman said. “It was a fantastic season.

“That year I started helping in whatever way I could, which gradually increased until I was out there at most practices and meets.”

Elizabeth Bitting and Wyman enjoy a day at the races. (Photo courtesy Bitting)

While she may have thought of herself as just a helpful parent at first, it soon became apparent that Wyman and Bitting made a great team.

“The first time I realized I was the ‘assistant’ coach was when I was in the stands as a parent listening to Coach Bitting give the preseason talk. She announced me as her assistant coach!

“I had no idea that was coming, but in reality, I had been playing that role all along: I was helping students with stretches, making sure they were on the right course, helping with uniforms, making sure they were doing what they were supposed to, or really whatever coach asked me to do, and I was at nearly all the meets.”

“I have been learning from Coach Bitting this entire time, and I know I have big shoes to fill!”

When Bitting accepted the high school gig, replacing Paige Spangler, who moved out of state after two years on the job, she actively stumped for her assistant to replace her.

“I applied for the job because of Coach Bitting and Kristin Wagner,” Wyman said. “Coach right away was on it and told me to apply, plus sent multiple texts and mentioned it anytime I talked to her in person.

“Then, Kristin started calling me coach whenever I saw her, so nearly daily!” she added “So really, the support, or arm-twisting, of friends got me here!”

Wyman and her husband, Andrew, who will celebrate their 27th anniversary this year, arrived on Whidbey in 2002.

He launched his dental practice in Oak Harbor, and she has worked as a teacher, first at the fourth-grade level and in recent years as a long-term substitute at Coupeville Elementary School.

That time in the classroom gives Wyman prior knowledge of many of the boys and girls who will run for her next fall, a true positive.

“I know many of these students and parents,” she said. “I have to admit that I don’t enjoy being in the spotlight, but I like feeling helpful.

“I’m hoping I can create a positive atmosphere for the students so that they will give me all they’ve got and understand that while it wasn’t always easy, it was worth it.”

Like Bitting, Wyman is intent on making cross country life a positive one for their runners, whether they’re seasoned athletes or first-timers.

“I want to make this a fun experience for the students, so they want to return or continue into high school,” Wyman said.

“I especially would like to get those reluctant athletes, those who are like me, to get out there and give it a try!” she added. “I want students to realize that although it can be challenging and you will have good and bad days, that’s OK.”

Running offers a unique experience, something Wyman embraces.

“From my years of watching on the sidelines and being in the supporting role while my husband ran in high school and at UW, I have learned that while the students run individually, they are a family,” she said.

“I love that! The running community is an amazing group who are always there to support!”

At its heart, cross country is a fairly simple sport, with no plays to learn, which makes it ideal for athletes of all skill levels and experience.

“I want my student-athletes to have fun, build a strong team, and have enthusiasm for the sport, whether they continue with it or use it as a steppingstone to keep in shape for another sport,” Wyman said.

“One of the best things about running is that it is always available and requires no special equipment!”

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