Nov. 8, 2012
***The following appeared in the Nov. 3 football game program***
A coaching change is never easy for a program and its student-athletes. But when the new head coach comes with a lengthy, proven resume along with a strong winning background, it helps.
Insert Bill Tramel, Marshall’s first year head coach at the helm of the 11-year swimming and diving program.
Tramel was hired from the University of Minnesota after eight years in the twin cities. The University of Missouri grad also has eight years at North Carolina, one at Georgia and three at South Carolina to add to his list of coaching stops.
The schools he has spent time alone shows the Herd’s new man in the pool that he is a proven winner.
While he was with the Golden Gophers, they visited the NCAA Championships five times and were a conference winner twice (‘05, ‘07).
He can also add in 15 Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) individual champions while at UNC, and 40 All-America honorees plus over 35 NCAA individual qualifiers to his already impressive resume.
Put all of his stops together and Tramel has placed a swimmer in the top 20 at the NCAA Championships 18 times. Combined, his teams have won 10 conference championships.
Potential and commitment from the athletic department where two of the main reasons he found the Marshall job enticing. The ability to have the max number of scholarships was also another large factor.
“Not every program has 14 scholarships, which is the max that can be given out in women’s swimming and diving,” Tramel said. “Not every school has that.”
Sophomore Kacey Preun, one of the Herd’s top swimmers a season ago, says having Tramel on board has brought a new perspective for her.
“He is definitely more open-minded to new ways of coaching and new ways of seeing things,” the sophomore said. “Coach Tramel has brought so much new perspective and new ways of coaching they we didn’t have before. It’s great, I love it and I’m definitely about being more open-minded to new ways of thinking.”
Sarah Schimenti, a senior swimmer, echoes Preun’s thoughts that things have changed, for the good, for the Herd.
“The intensity has gone up in weights and in practice,” she said. “We are a lot more committed then I think I’ve ever seen before and I think we are really disciplined and we look forward to this year.”
When Tramel came to Huntington he inherited diving coach Jim Zagaria. Entering his fourth year, Zagaria and Tramel had actually crossed paths before.
During the 2006-07 seasons, Zagaria was a volunteer assistant for UM as Tramel was in his third and fourth years on staff.
As Tramel was looking into the Marshall job, he actually called Zagaria to get the lowdown on the program. When he got off the phone, Zagaria knew if the fellow coach made the trek to the tri-state, Marshall would benefit.
“His past and experience and previous accomplishments speak for themselves. Someone coming from a BCS school with a very competitive and successful swim is pretty exciting.”
Tramel did have to pick up a new assistant coach to complete his staff. It was one of his first tasks while on the job. He set his eyes on Sarah Woodbury, a young, experienced, and qualified candidate that had success in and out of the pool.
Woodbury had been an assistant with Stephens Institute, a national ranked program on both the men’s and women’s side.
The Austin, Texas native swam collegiately at Brigham Young University from 2004-07. Woodbury's BYU teams won four-straight conference titles during her time and she went on to train with the New Zealand national team in 2008 after graduation.
Preun said having Tramel and Woodbury together has been such a boost to not just her but the whole swimming and diving program.
“Their organization skills and what bring to the table as a whole are benefits. You can tell when they are coaching that they have so much knowledge to share with us, that they have been coaching for so long and know how to do stuff.”
“You can tell they truly honestly want us to do good and when they throw us hard sets it’s only because they want us to good.”
The senior also credited the new coaches with major changes that help her along with her teammates get better in the pool.
“We’ve worked on a lot more technique and specific drills and he pays attention to a lot of little things.”
Tramel’s coaching style has pumped life and blood into his new program, which has been accepted by his 26-person roster.
“I’ve seen some people that are really excited about learning,” Tramel said from his Henderson Center office.
“It seems that a lot of young athletes here are really learning things that they have never exposed to. Race strategies, certain technical things to do in races, and stroke techniques are things that they have never done before.”
The ability by the Herd to be open to new ideas for a variety of things from the coaching staff has also been a welcomed sight to the St. Louis, Mo. native.
“The big thing is there is an openness to learn. There has been zero push back on new ideas. Everyone seems to have their mind wide open to any and all suggestions.”
“Having motivated, interested students encourages me to really provide as much as I can.”
Both swimmers believe the future, including the immediate, is bright for the program. Marshall has never won a conference title, but both believe it can happen with the new regime.
“With everyone moving around in conference we have a shot at winning a title in the next couple years,” says Preun. “Especially with recruiting and new people coming in, who knows what the next level can bring, possibly NCAA B cuts, it’s all in reaching level.”
“They can lead us to a lot better placing in Conference USA,” said Schimenti. “We will be a lot better behaved role models out on campus and better girls when we leave Marshall.”