Although Williams aims to prime students for top-notch jobs of their choice out of the purple bubble, some former student-athletes find that their dream job is coaching new generations of student-athletes playing the same sports they did in college. Alumni coach sports such as squash, tennis, track, baseball and football with the same motivation and passion that drove them as student-athletes years ago.
Alison Swain ’01
Often, coaching at Williams is not the first thing on the radar for graduating student-athletes. Many, like women’s tennis Head Coach Alison Swain, go into teaching at other institutions first. After graduating, Swain took a job teaching middle school English at Woodward Academy in Atlanta, Ga. and coached the women’s varsity tennis team; there, she still imagined coaching college tennis. Swain played tennis at Williams for four years under Julie Greenwood ’96 and was a member of the program’s first national championship team in 2001.
After three years at Woodward Academy, Swain went to Seattle to earn her master’s degree. “After two years [in Seattle], I had pretty much put aside the prospect of coaching college tennis and decided what I really wanted to do was work in independent school administration,” Swain said. She accepted a job at a small, experiential education-based school in Telluride, Colo. “I thought I had found the place and the school where I would work for several years,” Swain said. Six months later, Swain received a call from her former coach, Greenwood. Greenwood told Swain that she would be leaving Williams and her job as head women’s tennis coach. While Swain had put aside the prospect of coaching, she had never realized that coaching at Williams would be a possibility – she knew it was her dream job. After debating whether or not to apply, she did and soon got the job. “Now I certainly do have my dream job – unfortunately, I also have a mortgage and a house for sale in Colorado,” she said.
Coaching at her alma matter has been a rewarding experience for Swain. “I think coaching at the collegiate level really brings out the best in me,” she said. “I understand the student-athletes here and what they want – and I love that I get to spend basically every day over the course of four years with each athlete I coach.”
Perhaps the biggest jump from competing for Williams to coaching the Ephs is the different feeling that winning has in each context. “As a player, I remember winning being the highlight of my tennis career and feeling pure joy for myself and my team -As a coach, winning nationals was about helping my team achieve a tremendously challenging goal they had set for themselves.”
Matthew Campanelli ’00
Matthew Campanelli knew that his heart was in coaching after college, but it took a few career moves for him to end up as the head strength and conditioning coach and assistant coach for men’s track. As an Eph, Campanelli was a thrower competing under current cross country Head Coach Pete Farwell. Head Coach Fletcher Brooks was his specific event coach, and Campanelli also played football under Coach Dick Farley, who is now an assistant coach for track. “I now work and coach with three of the most influential people in my adult and professional career,” he said.
After graduation, Campanelli pursued a degree in sports sciences/physical education and coaching. He attended Springfield College and upon graduation was offered a position to return to Williams as an assistant coach. Two years after that, he was offered the position of head strength coach and throws coach when Coach Brooks left to go to MIT for a few years (he is returning this summer to Williams). “The fact that I can now still work and learn from the three men that coached and mentored me, as well as with former teammates [Dan DiCenzo ’01, Co-Head Coach of wrestling and assistant coach of football, and Marshall Creighton ’02, football and baseball assistant coach] is truly rewarding,” Campanelli said.
Marshall Creighton ’02
“I never thought about coaching until my senior year at Williams,” said Marshall Creighton, assistant coach of football and baseball. “I always thought I would move back home to the Washington, D.C. area and get a Ã¢â‚¬Ëœnormal’ job, perhaps in politics or consulting.” After graduating in 2002, Campanelli moved to Boston and worked as a volunteer assistant at Northeastern University for one season. He then took a job at Tufts University for three years, before returning to Williams just prior to the 2006 football season.
“Being an athlete at Williams was a transformative experience,” he said. “My decision to become a coach is a direct result of my cumulative athletic experience at Williams.”
As an Eph, Creighton was a member of three NESCAC championship teams and shared time as the starting quarterback in 2000 and started at centerback in 2001. “I think one of the biggest differences between [being a member of a team and coaching a team] is the sense of finality,” Creighton said. “Coaches will always be able to look forward to the next season, the next off-season, the next recruiting class, the next class of seniors – as a player, your time is limited. After your last game, your athletic career is over.”