The Gunston School is honored to have several alumni come back to teach, coach, and tutor current students. At this time, there are seven Gunston alumni who are current faculty or staff members, three of which also serve as coaches. Recently, Natalie (Purpora) Reading ’16 joined the team as Gunston’s Assistant Athletic Director for Waterfront Athletics. Prior to her full-time position, Natalie served for several years as a crew coach. As the school’s new Assistant Athletic Director, one of her many responsibilities is recruiting coaches and managing Gunston’s waterfront athletics.
Gunston’s waterfront athletic programs are very popular, with more than a third of students participating in either sailing or crew. Coach Reading credits the program's success and popularity to its close proximity to the waterfront. “We are one of very few high schools on the East Coast which have a waterfront campus, allowing our athletes the ability to get right to practice instead of having to drive to a different location.. This supports the academic and athletic balance,” commented Coach Reading. With such a full program, Coach Reading has made two new coaching additions, both of which are Gunston Alumni!
This spring, Kylee Naumann ’16 and Ryan Redding ’17 have joined Gunston’s Crew coaching staff. Both Naumann and Redding rowed for all four years of their Gunston careers. Coach Naumann was an integral part of the Gunston team as a student. She was selected to compete at the Scholastic Rowing Association of America’s annual regatta for three years. During her senior year she was also women's team captain, as well as an honors student. She was also a recipient of the Gunston Athletics Award, having been a member of both the crew and basketball teams. She went on to continue her rowing career at St. Mary’s College of Maryland.
Coach Redding was the varsity coxswain when he was a student at Gunston. He then went on to spend some time on the Washington College Rowing Team and is now working toward a master’s degree in chemistry while tutoring at Gunston. Naumann, Redding, and Reading each rowed for Coach Nicole Stimpson. Having that experience and being on the same team, allows their vision for the program’s future to align more closely.
When asked what excited them most about returning to Gunston’s Crew Program, they said:
“I'm most excited about helping new rowers to learn to love the sport, and bringing them to the point where they are able to compete with the schools we race against.” - Ryan
“I am most excited about being a part of a team again and being able to share my knowledge of the sport with the rowers.” - Kylee
Do you have a particular memory from your Gunston rowing career that you treasure?
“Some of my fondest memories from Crew were those moments just before a race when everybody is at their most tense. The adrenaline and focused silence at that moment leading into a race always gave me chills.” - Ryan
“I have so many great memories that it is hard to just pick one to talk about.” - Kylee
“The feeling of togetherness is what I will always treasure from my time as an athlete here at Gunston. The spring season of my junior year our boat really clicked halfway through the season, which completely surprised ourselves and our coach. We were able to win a few races, including our qualifying heat at Maryland State Championships which put us in the final. When I think about what success means for our crew team I think back to how our coach created a team that was always there for each other. Before Heron House was renovated, we practiced in the Cliff house with 5 ergs, and we used cinder blocks for weights when we needed to. We truly were the underdog at most regattas, but still remained competitive. I believe that this is what really brought us all together.” - Natalie
Naumann and Redding are joining an already-great lineup of coaches for Gunston’s Crew Program including Coach Natalie Reading, Coach Tammy Boone, and Coach John Wagner.
When asked why she found it valuable to add alumni to the coaching staff, Coach Reading said “Because we serve both elite and emerging athletes, it is crucial to create a coaching team which understands that aspect deeply. Being an alumni shortens the learning curve on what it means to be a Gunston student, and they already have experience on “the other side” of this team. We are all keenly aware of the rigorous academic schedule and how to balance that with athletics, because we have that lived experience. As a coach you often do more than just ‘teach your sport,’— coaches become mentors. Having an alumni coaching staff allows that mentoring to be Gunston specific.”
Kylee Naumann '16
Ryan Redding '17
Natalie Reading '16, Kylee Naumann '16, Ryan Redding '17