After an extensive and comprehensive search to fill the vacant Women’s Soccer head coaching position, Dean Snider and the women’s team have found a new head coach, Laura Williamson from Vassar College.
For the majority of this spring semester thus far, the Whitman women’s soccer team has been without a head coach. After previous head coach Heather Cato stepped down early in the semester to leave for Rogers State University, finding a new coach was a high priority.
Dean Snider, the Whitman College athletic director, worked with next season’s captains searching for and interviewing prospective coaches to take over the team next season. After a lengthy interview process that looked at over 50 different potential coaches, they finally chose Williamson, a choice that Snider is very excited about.
“Something we were very pleased with was Laura’s clear understanding of the liberal arts model and the purpose being the development of young people,” said Snider.
Snider wasn’t the only person involved in the process, however. The athletic department was intent on allowing players from the team, especially captains, to help select their new coach.
“We consistently asked coaches how they would deal with the transition and I don’t remember exactly what she said but one thing that was important to her was fitting into our system smoothly,” said Kelsey Peck, a sophomore midfielder who will be a captain next year.
When prospective coaches were on campus visiting, anyone on the team that was available was encouraged to meet with them. In general, all the players seemed to really like Williamson and were excited about her potential as a head coach.
“She fits well with the team,” said junior captain Jade Anderson.
A large emphasis that both the captains and Williamson herself put on this position was not necessarily the chance to redefine a program, but simply pick up where the previous head coach left off and continue to improve on what they had already accomplished.
“She said she wouldn’t be looking at the team if she didn’t see a lot of potential and the ability to come into a good program and just make it better,” said Peck.
One thing Snider was very excited about was Williamson’s recruiting prowess, as she was the recruiting coordinator and assistant at Smith College, a school that, like Vassar, is similar to Whitman.
Williamson was also the assistant coach and recruiting specialist at Steven’s Institute of Technology. Each of these schools, explained Snider, are “niche-recruiting” schools, similar to Whitman College. This means that in recruiting, there is a specific population from which they draw.
“We’re a niche-recruiting institution and she was clearly very skilled at recruiting for niche institutions and that was a primary factor,” said Snider.
Though Cato has already partially secured recruits for next season, Williamson’s recruiting abilities should have an impact on the future of Whitman women’s soccer.