BY NICK NELSON
When the University of Mary Washington swim team opens their season on Oct. 5, there will be a stranger among familiar faces: new head coach Matt Sellman.
Sellman took the job in early July after previous head coach Matt Kinney left the program to accept a coaching position at another institution.
A competitive swimmer, Sellman came to Mary Washington after coaching at Lewis & Clark College for the last six seasons following a stint as assistant coach at Pacific Luthern University.
According to Sellman, UMW is where he wants to be.
“I’m really excited to be coaching a team with such a great history,” he said. “This is a talented group of kids who embody exactly what a student athlete is supposed to be.”
Athletic Director Ed Hegmann has high expectations for Sellman.
“We hope that Matt can become the best swim coach we’ve had here,” he said. “He’s bringing plenty of experience to the team. He’ll have to win the trust of the new team, but he knows the ropes and even with a new style, there are plenty of ways that he can be successful.”
Team members like senior Jason Philpott are very enthusiastic about what Sellman has to offer.
“I’m excited,” Philpott said. “He is bringing in a lot of energy and excitement and I’m confident we will continue to stay far above the rest of the [conference]. He’s so committed to our program and doing everything he can to make sure we make the leap to the national scene.”
Sellman realizes he’ll have his share of challenges, but remains confident.
“Anytime you bring in a new coach, there is going to be a transition period,” he said. “But Kinney was a great coach who left me a really mature group. These kids will have no trouble moving ahead.”
With five returning seniors on the men’s team and six on the women’s side, Sellman will look to this year’s veterans in trying to capture a Capital Athletic Conference title.
The women’s team has won every CAC championship since entering the league, and the men’s team has garnered 14 conference titles with at least one All-American entry each of the last three seasons.
“This is a team whose tradition speaks for itself,” Sellman said.
“Every time I get a new group of kids, I get better at working with people and I get a clearer idea of the challenge ahead. I’m excited to bring wisdom and experience to this team. The freshmen are ready, and we’ve got a strong senior class. We’re all ready to have a great season.”
“We’ve got a big meet Nov. 10 against York,” he said. “They’ve won 19 straight dual meets, we can’t wait to get up there and end that streak.”