Faced with unexpectedly needing to find a new head coach for the girls swimming and diving team, Berlin athletic director Jeff Mauri was quite pleased with who he was able to get in Andrea Gallo.
“Never mind finding good qualities for a coach, just finding a swim coach is very difficult,” Mauri said. “So finding a coach like Andrea who’s highly qualified and brings the skillset that she brings, I feel very lucky.”
Former Berlin girls swim coach Michael Cwirka was suspended in February and put on administrative leave with pay, pending an investigation, amid allegations of an inappropriate relationship with a student.
But it didn’t take long for Mauri to get someone he trusted with the team for the position.
Gallo is an eighth grade teacher at McGee Middle School in Berlin and for the last three years has been an assistant for the Berlin girls swim team.
“I think the girls are happy with the change,” Gallo said. “I have been with the team a couple years now, so they know me and my expectations. The big difference this year is that I am able to design the season to achieve the goals I feel we need to meet. They have been receptive and I see them having fun in the midst of all the hard work we are putting them through.”
Before starting her coaching career, Gallo was a Berlin High School swimmer and diver herself. She continued her athletic career at Eastern Connecticut State University. From there, she was the head coach at Bristol Eastern from 2010 to 2013 and during the 2012 and 2013 swim season she led her team to back-to-back CCC South conference championships.
“When I heard the coaching position opened up, I was all in,” Gallo said. “I love watching how a team and individual can grow over the course of a season and the confidence and excitement that comes with it. Being able to help someone set a goal and work at it is very rewarding.”
Gallo’s main objective for this year is to build a positive team culture. She believes that is is the most important step in building a successful team - creating an environment that the team wants to be in and relationships of trust and respect.
“If they want to come to practice and believe in the team, they will want to work hard,” Gallo said. “Without that, any other goal is worthless to me.”
Her next goal is to close the point gap against some of the bigger teams like Hall, Conard, Farmington and Southington.
“I think if everyone rises to the challenge this season,” Gallo said, “and pulls their weight, this is a great goal to compare this season to last. If we can close that point gap, that means that everyone is swimming faster and doing things like starts and turns better. It’s going to take focus in practice. I they are more than capable.”
Last season the Redcoats were 5-5, including an eighth place finish at the Class S state meet.
Shelby Iava can be reached at (860) 801-5096 or