Amanda Perry says she’s unlucky with cars.
Her carpool buddy, Sandra, decided she was going to join rowing. Amanda figured she might as well join rowing, too, since she would be at practice anyway. So Amanda walked on the Ohio State University rowing team in 2001.
Then Sandra quit. Amanda rowed throughout college.
Amanda’s sophomore year, she parked her car and headed to rowing practice. Her car was one of 11 set on fire during a post-game riot. Not long after that, a dump truck ran into her next car.
Meanwhile, her coaches felt her rowing scores could earn her a spot on the national team. But instead of gambling her reconstructed shoulder, she pivoted to coaching.
The collegiate rowing world is small. Amanda knew Dartmouth head coach Steve Perry’s assistant coach. Some of the staff at Dartmouth and Ohio State had worked at Rutgers, where Amanda’s national team coach was the head coach. So it was just a matter of time before Steve and Amanda met at winter training.
“You might be at winter training for a week to 10 days. And you’re gonna get up early in the morning, and you’re gonna have several practices, so you don’t have time to do anything,” she says. “But you can hang out with the other rowing coaches and talk about practices.”
They had dinner together a few times over the course of several years. Finally, Steve asked Amanda out officially.
But in 2007, right before her first date with Steve, her car was stolen.
To keep her date with Steve, car-less Amanda, who was now the rowing coach at Brown, took the train from Providence, Rhode Island, to Boston just as a snow storm started. She arrived in Boston with just enough time to catch the last bus to Hanover before 20 inches of snow fell, and everything shut down.
“It was a gorgeous scene. We just had a wonderful time hanging out,” Amanda says.
That date led to others. They wound up dating long-distance for six years before flying out to her parents’ house.
“It’s actually a bit of a bittersweet topic at the time,” Amanda says.
Her sister, who had been diagnosed with cancer and was beginning chemotherapy, was hosting a wig party. Unknown to Amanda, Steve had talked to her family about proposing before they arrived.
“He was sweating bullets. Of course, I said yes. We’re best friends,” she says. “They [family] came together to celebrate my sister and us getting engaged as a kind of a hidden agenda.”
The Perrys were married in December 2012. After following each other’s careers throughout the country (there are only so many collegiate rowing coach jobs), Steve was invited to coach the junior national team. One of the rowers’ fathers asked if Steve would like to come to Dallas and coach.
Steve asked if there was a position for Amanda. There was. So they moved to Dallas in 2017 to coach together for the first time, joining the Dallas United Crew.
Now they carpool together to White Rock Lake before sunrise, six days a week to coach junior rowing teams.
“It’s a perk to be able to work with my husband and best friend every day,” Amanda says.
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