Ron Allen named swim coach

Noah Cloonan

After a tedious search for a new head swimming and diving coach, the Ashland University Athletic Department announced on Sept. 15 that Ron Allen had been selected as the man for the job.

It was in the second week of August that former coach Derick Roe had informed Athletic Director, Al King, that he was going to take a job at Eastern Michigan. With students coming to campus in just a few weeks and the season just over one month away, the Athletic Department immediately posted the job opening. 

“We were really shocked,” junior swimmer Zoe Scarpone said. “We didn’t really see it coming, so I went to meet with him and I congratulated him and I think he was really relieved by that because he was a little concerned that we would be upset or mad at him I think ultimately the team was happy for him.”

King said it was not long before applications came flying in from all parts of the country. The athletic department settled on a final four candidates and started to place them through the interview process. 

Each candidate met with the athletic department, President Carlos Campo and members of both the men and women’s swim teams. The university decided that Ron Allen was the right fit for the University and announced his hiring just two weeks before the first match.

“We got a lot of quality candidates,” King said. “I had seen Ron coach years ago and I was really impressed with the way he conducted himself the way his team performed.”

Allen has an extensive resume to go along with his 19 years of Division II coaching experience. 

“We met with the final four candidates and Ron was the first guy we met,” Scarpone said. “He made a great impression on the team. We really like that he was more experienced, he’s been coaching division II for his whole career. He said that D-II is his passion and that’s something that was really important to us.”

Coach Allen has coached at Colorado Mesa since 2012. During his time there he helped his team to break 102 program records. He was awarded the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference Men’s Swimming Coach of the Year in 2013 and 2014. Prior to that experience, Allen was the head coach at the University of South Dakota from 1991-2005.

“I have some friends in the swimming world who I can rely on, I called them and they said if you can get a Ron Allen then you’re in good shape,” said King. “Ron will build you a quality program he is an extremely good technician, he will build an all around program, you don’t get someone with 19 years experience very often.” 

In an email interview, Allen said he is excited about the opportunity and he is looking forward to getting on campus and start his coaching journey at AU.

“Ashland’s history is strong,” Allen said. “Having the highest level of accreditation in all academic majors and being consistently listed in polls such as US New and World Report’s annual college academic rankings helps us all to bring in the best students.  In addition, the history of athletic success at Ashland University is very impressive.  Being one of only two colleges that have been in the top 15 of the Learfield Cup ten years running shows a commitment to athletics.  Lastly, coming from a small liberal arts college myself at Lewis & Clark I am excited to recruit to that kind of environment.”

Allen will not be able to recruit his own team for this season, but King doesn’t think that is going to change the way that he will coach. 

“The one thing about swimming is, you swim and you build up the whole way to February and March, to the conference meet and nationals,” King said. “For this year, you make the most of it and do the best you can. For the kids that are there you do the best that you can.”

With the season starting on Sept. 30 and Allen not arriving until around Sept. 26, there will be little time to prep before the first meet. 

Assistant coach, Samantha Palma, has been in charge of the team during the transition period. 

“I am not too worried about prep time for two reasons,” Allen said, “First, the team is in very good hands with assistant coach Samantha Palma.  Second, I am confident in being able to come in three weeks into the season with a good plan.” 

In the midst of the tough transition Palma has done a great job in holding the team together.

“Moving forward I think our assistant coach Sam has been amazing,” Scarpone said. “She has been such a great help in keeping our team together. I think everyone has really just helped each other out and just kept such a positive attitude.”

Allen said that as soon as he gets on campus he will sit down with the team and discuss their goals for this season, but Allen has goals that far surpass just this season.

“Ashland was a swimming powerhouse in the 90’s and early 2000’s and I would like to get back to that level,” Allen said.

The Eagles will start their season at home on Sept. 30 in a meet with Findlay, Northern Michigan, and Tiffin.