Assistant Coaches for Age Group National Teams Finalized
by Alyssa Jacobs, USA Artistic Swimming
Assistant coaches for the USA Artistic Swimming Youth and Junior National Teams have been selected for 2023. Laura Mase (Youth), Ou Liu (Junior) and Monica Velazquez-Stiak (Junior) will round out the coaching staff for the age group national teams this summer under the direction of head coaches Ludi Perrin-Stsepaniuk and Megan Abarca. The youth national team will compete in Greece at the 2023 World Aquatics Youth Championships and the junior national team will be the first cohort to revive the Olympic Development Program (ODP). ODP will focus on individual development of our highest-level artistic swimmers in preparation for World Championship years. More information on this new model for our age group national teams can be found HERE.
LAURA MASE – YOUTH ASSISTANT COACH
Laura works full-time as a Speech-Language Pathologist in a middle school with students with special needs. Despite a full time job, her passion for the sport and developing her athletes has kept her coaching the youth team for the Aquianas since 2011. Laura has trained athletes to successfully earn places on USA national teams and collectnumerous medals in a wide range of events at national championships. Laura was named the head coach of the 12U national team in 2020 and East Zone Coach of the Year in 2022.
OU LIU – JUNIOR ASSISTANT COACH
Ou Liu is the lead coach for the Santa Clara Aquamaids junior program. She been with the Aquamaids for eight years as a coach and her Artistic swimming career spans almost two decades as an athlete. She competed with the Chinese National Artistic Swimming Team from 2005 to 2013 earning a bronze medal in the team competition at the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games and silver in team and bronze in duet at the 2012 London Olympic Games. From 2012 to 2013, Ou worked both as a coach and athlete for the Guangdong Provincial Artistic Swimming Team in China. While with the program she helped her athletes win gold in the teamevent and silver in duet at the 12th National Games of China. She also brought this team to 2013 U.S. Open in Dallas, Texas where they collected all gold medals.
In 2015 she brought her talents to the United States and joined the Santa Clara Aquamaids as a junior coach. She helped the team win gold medals in team, duet and solo at the Junior China Open in 2015. In 2016, she led her SCA junior squad to gold medal wins for team, duet and solo at U.S Junior Nationals. From 2016 to 2019 she coached all age groups at SCA. Ou returned exclusively to the junior program in 2019 because she is passionate about the development of the age group, specifically the development of future Olympians.During Ou’s athletic career she was trained by many top coaches in the world, and she developed her coaching method from her own experience and perspective as an elite athlete.
MONICA VELAZQUEZ-STIAK – JUNIOR ASSISTANT COACH
Monica Velazquez-Stiak is the current assistant coach of The Ohio State University synchronized (artistic) swim team. Prior to her first collegiate coaching gig, Monica worked as the Athlete Safety and Membership Manager in the national office of USA Artistic Swimming and in the camps and clinics department of Ohio State Athletics. Within her role at USAAS, she also served as an assistant for our junior and senior national teams at the 2021 Junior Pan American Games and the 2022 French Open. Also as a coach, Monica has spent time developing athletes at several USAAS camps, with a local Columbus club and through consulting and choreography. As an athlete, Monica was a four-time national team athlete and a member of the Buckeye varsity team from 2014-18. During her collegiate career, she helped the program to three national championships in addition to her four individual titles. Also at Ohio State, she earned her bachelors degree in Sport Industry and masters degree in Sport Management.
“We are excited to continue to develop our country’s top athletes this summer and prepare them to represent our country at World Championships. I have the a lot of confidence and trust in our selected leaders of Ludi, Megan, Laura, Ou and Monica. We had a very strong pool of candidates and are fortunate so many coaches in our community are passionate about moving our country forward. I am looking forward to seeing the growth of the national team athletes under the leadership of the coaching staff,” Lara Teixeira, High Performance Manager, said.