Dixie State University is in the process of searching for a replacement head coach for women’s swimming.
Benjamin Rae, the previous head coach, resigned from his position March 29 after building up the team to having their first NCAA Division II championship qualifier, Hannah Hansen, a sophomore psychology student from Lehi.
Athletic Director Jason Boothe said there is no specific timeline for hiring a replacement coach since the position is part-time.
“I’m going to give it a little longer to get the word out and get people interested [in the position],” Boothe said.
Boothe said the hiring process for a head coach is always unique because it’s important to find someone who is qualified, understands DSU and is a good fit for the team to keep them going.
Swimmer Katie Pack, a junior exercise science major from Spanish Fork, said she was surprised when Rae resigned as head coach.
“It was kind of a shock,” Pack said. “He’ll be really hard to replace … he’s a one-of-a-kind coach.”
Pack said one of Rae’s unique strengths was how personal he was with the swimmers. She said she hopes for the new coach to be personal as well to understand each team member and to maintain a “quality over quantity” mentality like Rae did. Pack said the most difficult part about receiving a new coach will be the adjustments.
“I’ve switched coaches before, and I feel like the hardest part is just realizing that the coach is different,” Pack said. “When a new coach comes along, their idea is different from your idea so to definitely takes a little bit of adjustment.”
Student Assistant Coach Madison Wawrzyniak, a senior communication major form St. George, said it was shocking for her when she discovered the news that Rae would be resigning as well, but she is glad to see the team in a good position to keep working toward their goals.
“He made sure that we felt like we knew what we were doing, and he taught us along the way,” Wawrzyniak
Wawrzyniak said she enjoyed learning from Rae as they had a relationship of mutual trust and Rae made sure that everyone was comfortable approaching him for any reason.
Likewise, swimmer Audrey Parrish, a sophomore biology secondary education major from Wenatchee, Washington, said she had a strong relationship with Rae and was comfortable approaching Rae for help in and out of the pool. She said she was also taken back by Rae’s decision to resign.
“I cried … I was the first one to start bawling,” Parrish said. “I know he had a lot going on with his new job at the Washington City Community Center and his family, but it really took me by surprise.”
Parrish said she had such a strong bond with Rae because of his ability to motivate her to be a better swimmer and be lighthearted and humorous at the same time.
“He would be serious and push us, but he would also try to be really [lighthearted] with it to make sure everyone was comfortable,” Parrish said. “He made sure no one felt like they didn’t belong on the team or didn’t have a reason to be there … everyone had a reason.”
Parrish said one of the most important things she learned from Rae was how to be a better leader. She said Rae helped her learn to have a strong voice for the team and speak up about her thoughts as a team captain while maintaining a good relationship with the team and the coaches.
Parrish said she hopes the new head coach will be open minded and work with the team to create a sense of unity similarly to Rae.
“I hope that the next coach coming in really just has the girls’ best interest in mind,” Wawrzyniak said. “It doesn’t matter to me [who they are] as long as they have the desire to work with these girls and make them better.”