Following former swim coach Conner Snare’s announcement that he was taking an assistant coaching job at Michigan State, AU quickly turned to assistant coach Megan Wills to take over both the men’s and women’s teams
as the interim head coach.
Snare’s announcement came after the fourth women’s meet and the second men’s meet right before the conference season. While the suddenness of his departure was hard for the program to deal with, they were confident in Wills to step up for the Ravens.
Wills has been with the program since it began in 2016 as the assistant coach in charge of dryland workouts, conditioning, study tables and more. She was a
swimmer in high school and is an alumna of AU. She also has a background in strength and conditioning.
“I met Coach Snare about two months before the first season started,” said Wills. “We began talking about his need for an assistant coach. After talking
with him about my history, he asked me if I would be interested in coaching. I told him I didn’t think I would be qualified at the time because I didn’t swim in college, but he encouraged me to give it a chance because
of my background.”
“We made a great coaching team together, and I am proud to continue coaching this team,” she added. “It is a big challenge, and I am thankful for my athletes who continue to stick with this program and seek out success. I tell them all the time how I wouldn’t want to coach any other team. I am grateful to represent AU Swimming and help them transition with a new
coach next season.”
Besides the challenge of coaching two separate swim teams with different needs, schedules and attitudes, Wills works a full time job as a social worker. Despite this, AU’s athletic director Marcie Taylor will not look to find a new head coach until after this season. This confidence in Wills speaks to her ability to handle multiple responsibilities well.
“I am the type of person who compartmentalizes things so I can give 100 percent to whatever I’m supposed to be focused on at the time,” added Wills. “In the past, I have always worked full-time as a social worker, and I would put that aside when I got to practice or a meet and then go back to work after. This year, I am back and forth between the two all day. My full time job is fully supportive of my decision to step up as the interim head coach, but it doesn’t slow down. I’m really thankful for all of the flexibility with both programs.”
The job change surely has been a challenge for Wills, but it has also affected the swimmers. The young program had never known a head coach besides Snare, and the abrupt transition midseason could have unraveled the Raven’s season. Instead, the athletes held the same mindset and kept going as if it was
business as usual.
“It has been a blessing,” said junior swimmer Emma Maubach. “With the abrupt information of Conner Snare leaving, having our assistant coach step up into the new position was the sense of familiarity that we needed. As a team, we are doing better than ever, and Coach Wills knows exactly what we need. She has a passion for this team, and she won’t let us down.”
“The team seems to have adjusted well to some of the coaching style changes,” said Wills. “Most of them seem to trust me to lead them through the rest of this season. Others are still healing from the changes, and I am patient with
them as they continue to adjust. The athletic department, other coaches, parents and my swimmers have made this adjustment much easier than it could have been.”
Wills has had very little time to adjust to her new role as the interim head coach. Her responsibilities are very different now, and she is trying to learn on the go.
“Honestly, it’s been difficult at times, and other times it feels as though nothing has changed,” added Wills. “The more difficult transitions have been taking on the day-to-day tasks, learning all of the NCAA rules and just overseeing the program.”
Both the men’s and women’s teams have continued swimming well under the adjusted coaching regime. The teams have continued to compete well for a small team and set both individual and school records along the way. They’ll resume after the new year hosting Transylvania on Jan. 12.