There is a sports cliché that says that there is no substitute for good coaching and the past success of the Minutemen can be attributed to tenured coach and UMass alum Russ Yarworth.
Entering his 32-year as head coach of the team, Yarworth has brought incomparable success to the program. As just the third coach in the history of the UMass program, Yarworth’s 246 wins account for more than half of the programs 425 all-time victories.
In the previous 31 years as head coach of the team, Yarworth’s teams have won 20 titles, including 12 A-10 championships. Since 1996, the team has failed to capture the A-10 crown in only three seasons (1999, 2000 and 2006). The team also recorded eight-consecutive New England championships from 1987-1994, posting a 246 – 70 dual-meet record.
With a winning percentage of .778, it is no wonder that the 12 A-10 titles are by far the most of any program in the leagues 26 years of hosting swimming and diving championship meets.
With this type of unparalleled success comes acknowledgment, and this recognition has landed Yarworth 11 A-10 Coach of the Year awards – the most in any sport in A-10 history.
As the Minutemen open their season on Saturday, Oct. 16 against Boston University, it looks as if this team has the drive and the coaching to capture another A-10 crown. However, with five seniors missing from the roster this year, it is up to the newcomers to fill their shoes and step up for this 2010-11 season.
The team has not had a hard time recruiting young and raw talent. This year alone the Minutemen will welcome nine new freshmen to the squad, including USA Swimming Scholastic All-American Chris Ingils.
The Mashpee, Mass. native will open his career against BU in less than 10 days, giving the team a new energy and formidable threat.
Even with new talent being recruited and molded into college level standouts, it is up to the veterans and team captains to make sure the team’s focus and the drive is still being brought to every meet.
Over this past summer, Yarworth announced that seniors Dan Backler, Adam Duffield and Brian Schmidt will serve as the swimming and diving team’s tri-captains for the upcoming season.
The three seniors will guide the four-time defending A-10 champion Minutemen as they look to capture their 13th conference title.
“These young men have shown tremendous ability and attitude during their tenure at UMass,” Yarworth said. “I am fully confident they will provide the leadership necessary for us to continue to compete for the A-10 title and beyond.”
With a head coach as esteemed as Yarmouth, three senior tri-captains and nine incoming freshman, it looks like the Minutemen have all the pieces in place to not only compete for the A-10 title, but to claim it once again.
Nick Bellofatto can be reached at email@example.com.