New Women’s Soccer Coach Ready to Get to Work

Cole Anderson

After an extensive and comprehensive search to fill the vacant women’s soccer head coaching position, Athletics Director Dean Snider and the women’s team have found a new head coach, Laura Williamson from Vassar College.

For the majority of the spring semester thus far, the Whitman College 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.

Snider worked with next season’s captains to search for and interview prospective coaches to take over the team next season. After a lengthy interview process that looked at more than 50 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.

When Williamson visited Whitman, her meetings with Snider and other athletic staff were part of what furthered her decision to choose Whitman.

“After meeting the athletic department staff and other members of the Whitman community, I got the sense that people were doing things the right way for the right reasons and that was attractive,” said Williamson in an email.

This visit also allowed her to see the campus-wide drive for success.

“I also get the feeling that the success of Whitman as an institution is a collaborative effort across campus, and that is not always the case at this level,” said Williamson.

Snider and the athletic staff weren’t the only people 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 who was available was encouraged to meet with them. In general, all the players seemed to like Williamson and were excited about her potential as a head coach.

“She fits well with the team. She has a similar sense of humor as us, she seems like she’s going to be tough and knows what she’s talking about. She seems like someone who isn’t going to beat around the bush and is going to tell it like it is and be tough on us,” 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 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.

Williamson was certainly on the same page with the captains when it came to their aspirations for the coming years.

“It seems that the program is in a great position as is, but it’s crucial to set the tone from the start. I expect my team to compete at their highest level at training everyday and I expect them to respect me and one another enough to do their absolute best to put us in a position to succeed,” said Williamson.

One thing Snider was very excited about was Williamson’s recruiting prowess, as she was the recruiting coordinator at Smith College, a school that 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.

Williamson will be coming to Whitman all the way from the East Coast, but to her, that is a good thing.

“I’m incredibly excited to get to know a different region of the country. I’ve lived in the Northeast my entire life, and it’s exciting to think that it will all be new to me,” said Williamson.

Until Williamson arrives on campus on April 13, men’s coach Mike Washington will run the women’s practices, but after that Williamson will be able to practice with the team for the rest of her NCAA allotted practice days.