Two New Head Coaches Join Wesleyan Athletics Staff
The Wesleyan Athletic Department will feature two new varsity head coaches for the 2012-2013 season.
Peter Solomon was announced as the new head coach of men’s and women’s swimming and diving last April, replacing 2011-12 interim head Frank Keefe. Meanwhile, former men’s and women’s tennis assistant coach Michael Fried has signed on as the interim head of the program, following the departure of Ken Alrutz after eight years at the helm of the program.
In Solomon, Wesleyan swimming and diving gains a leader with a stellar résumé and a wealth of NESCAC experience. Solomon has been coaching in the conference for 18 years, serving as the head of Amherst’s team from 1993-97 and of Middlebury’s from 1997-2011. During that time, Solomon received NESCAC Coach of the Year accolades five times. He coached the Middlebury men’s team to a conference championship in 2002 and has coached the women’s team to five second-place finishes.
Solomon’s success at building perennial competitors bodes well for Wesleyan swimming and diving, which in the past two seasons has been led by as many head coaches.
“He’s a very experienced coach and will add some much needed stability to our team,” said women’s captain Cara Colker-Eybel ’13.
11-year Aquatics Director Mary Bolich left Wesleyan to take a job as an administrator in the Penn State Athletic Department in October 2011 and was replaced by interim head Frank Keefe for the 2011-12 season. Keefe was popular among team members, but they knew his time at Wesleyan was limited.
“While Frank Keefe was an amazing interim coach, we always knew he was leaving after last season,” Colker-Eybel said. “It’s nice now to have a coach that will be here for a long time and help us build a strong swimming and diving program.”
Solomon’s transition to Wesleyan gives him the opportunity to prove himself as an elite coach because of the swimming and diving program’s room for improvement. In contrast to Amherst and Middlebury, schools which have historically dominated NESCAC swimming and diving, Wesleyan has a much more varied history.
The men’s squad has had some impressive years in the past decade, finishing fourth in the NESCAC Championship as recently as 2008. However, the team has suffered from a low recruitment yield and a high attrition rate since the 2010-2011 season and is eager to rebound from two consecutive last-place finishes at the NESCAC Championship.
While the women have recently fared better than the men, posting winning dual-meet records for the past five years, they have yet to finish higher than seventh place at the NESCAC Championship in the eleven years of the competition.
The goals of restoring the men’s team to its former prowess and helping the women’s team to compete with conference juggernauts are anything but small, and Solomon’s tenure would most certainly be regarded as a success if he presides over their achievement. Wesleyan’s swimming and diving community is hopeful that he is indeed the man for this job.
“Not only is [Solomon’s] coaching style up to date with the most recent opinions on how to train swimmers, he seems committed to an intense practice environment where swimmers work as hard as they can in practice so as to go as fast as they can at the end of the season,” said men’s captain Nick Huston ’13.
According to Huston, Solomon also has the media savvy to strengthen alumni funding of University athletics.
“I think he also represents an important turn in alumni relations,” Huston said. “He understands any athletic program relies heavily on a strong alumni base. He has already started to reach out toward alumni to strengthen their involvement and commitment to their alma mater.”
Out of the water and onto the court, the Wesleyan men’s tennis team welcomes former assistant coach Michael Fried into the head coach position, where he will serve as an interim for 2012-13.
Fried has extensive experience as a coach at the junior level, having served as the Director of Player Development at the Macci International Tennis Academy in Delray Beach, Florida and the Seguso-Bassett (now Evert) Tennis Academy in Boca Raton, Florida. He began working at Wesleyan as the assistant coach to the men’s and women’s teams in spring 2011. Since then he has earned the esteem of both the men’s and women’s squads, and in spring 2012 he took over for Ken Alrutz as head of the women’s team.
“We were lucky enough to have Mike as our head coach in the spring, and we have already seen a lot of improvement from every player,” said women’s captain Genevieve Aniello ’13. “Mike is an amazing coach and player, and I fully trust we can make the NESCAC tournament with him. We already have a fire under our feet from the spring season with Mike, and we’re all excited to get the fall season started.”
Men’s co-captain Michael Glen ’13 expressed a similar sentiment.
“Coach Fried is an excellent coach who has experience playing and coaching at the top levels of tennis,” Glen said. “I believe that under his leadership, combined with an experienced team, the men’s program will be the strongest Wesleyan has seen.”
A familiar face, Fried is a logical choice to fill the head coach position given the state of the men’s and women’s teams. Following the spring season, the women’s team graduated only two letter winners, while the men’s squad lost only one, putting both in an optimal position to improve on their respective 8-5 and 13-7 records while working with the same personnel.