Lawrence University is a constantly changing environment, from the buildings to the professors to the students. Overlooked in the midst of all the change are the coaches that sacrifice their time and energy to make Lawrence’s athletes better competitors and people.This winter, three new coaches take the helms of three very successful programs with new ideas on ways to improve, continue tradition and improve the Lawrence athletic experience.
Swimming as well as both men’s and women’s basketball programs all have new coaches this year, though not all of the faces are unfamiliar. Joel DePagter, the head golf coach and assistant basketball coach of the men’s basketball team is stepping into the head coach role for the men’s basketball team.
A Lawrence ’98 graduate, he began coaching at Hillsdale College in Michigan, where his predecessor, Coach Tharp, is now the head coach. He came back to Lawrence four years ago to be Tharp’s assistant and began coaching basketball as well as golf.
He is especially grateful to Lawrence’s Athletic Director, Bob Beeman, for this opportunity, and is looking forward to leading this team into a new era. He is excited about working with not only great talent, but people of great character, and he says he is ready for the challenges of the upcoming season.
He returns seven of the men’s basketball team’s eight leading scorers from last year as well as many players with on-court experience. Coach DePagter is looking to bring home the fourth conference title in five years for this team. His biggest goal, besides the conference title, is emphasizing his beliefs in morals and refusing to quit in the face of adversity.
The new women’s basketball coach is Michelle Walsh. She graduated from Swarthmore College in 1998 and has held the position of assistant coach at both Smith College and Hobart and William Smith College.
She is taking over a successful program as well but is looking to continue growing as a program, now and in the future. She is getting to know her team, which will return with experience, and is looking to focus on the fundamentals of the game and the necessity for conditioning.
She will have a lot of youth to go along with the experience and is very energetic about the year ahead. She noted that the reason she chose Lawrence was the idea that student-athletes still existed here.
The idea of individualized learning goes hand-in-hand with her philosophy of team accountability. She is excited to be working with a talented and caring administration and looks forward to a great year.
The Lawrence University men’s and women’s swim teams have one new coach, Dan Lloyd, ready to push both teams to new heights. He graduated from Millikin University in 2002 and has been in competitive swimming since the age of four. He was a five-time All-American athlete, holding state records in the 1650 and the 1000 races.
Before coming to Lawrence, Lloyd was the head coach at Normal Community West High School as well as an assistant at University of Michigan. He is excited to coach a team with a lot of returning talent, and the season looks to be headed in the right direction.
One of his main goals fits in well with Lawrence’s view of the student-athlete; he wants his teams to be in the top 25 nationally for Academic All-Americans. He looks forward to everyone improving his or her time throughout the year and to succeed at conference later this year. Lloyd returns the majority of his team and has a handful of freshman that look to push the upperclassman this year.
All three of these teams seem to be headed in the right direction under new coaches and it looks like it will be an exciting winter for all of Lawrence’s sports teams. To all of the coaches, good luck with the upcoming season, and welcome to Lawrence!