American College Coaches, we wrote about it before. Are college coaches often your best friend, or not? And what does a coach pay attention to during the recruiting process? One thing is certain: your future college coach will be very important in your further career (as a student-athlete)!
It is extremely important that you get along with your college coach, that you agree with his / her vision on sports and perhaps most importantly: that you are inspired by your coach! College sports are huge in the USA: everybody pays a lot of attention to the results of the sports teams and sometimes we find more than 100,000 spectators per game. You can imagine that there is also a lot of pressure on the coaches. You do not just become a College Coach.
In this article we are talking about different College Coaches who all have one thing in common: they have participated (as coach) in the Olympic Games. A goal that is seen as the realistic finish line for many student athletes. And what inspires more than a coach who has been there?
1. Kyle spencer – Head Tennis Coach @ NC State
Kyle Spencer, the now 44-year-old tennis coach from England, is the first on our list today. Before starting his career as a coach, Kyle played tennis at a high level: his highest world ranking in doubles is ATP#126!
He obtained this position in July 2000. In the same year he played for England with Barry Cowan during the Olympics in Sydney. 2000 was a successful year for Kyle: he also made it to the first round of Wimbledon!
(During the same edition of Wimbledon, Holland’s greatest doubles champion Paul Haarhuis managed to beat the very young Roger Federer in the quarter-finals of doubles play. A while ago! And did you know that Paul Haarhuis played College Tennis as well? He was part of the ‘Seminoles’ @ Florida State University!)
Kyle also reached the main tournament of Wimbledon in 2001 and 2002: proof that this experienced coach at NC State not only competed in the Olympic Games, but that he also competed in the world’s most prestigious tournament multiple times!
The NC State Men’s Tennis Team plays in the Atlantic Coast Conference and is one of the strongest tennis teams in College Tennis! In addition, the team is very diverse, it consists 10 players from 8 different nationalities. And big news: Dutch tennis player Fons van Sambeek will join them next year! Fons came into contact with the team and coach Kyle through Slamstox. After visiting the University in Raleigh he was sure: with Kyle he is in good hands. Let’s go Pack!
2. Yvonne Wade – Track & Field Coach @ University of Nevada, Las Vegas (UNLV)
46-year-old Yvonne Wade is Track & Field Coach for the UNLV Rebels at the University of Las Vegas. Yvonne was born in Tokyo, grew up in Sacramento and trained hard on the track all her life. That hard work paid off: Yvonne competed in the Olympic Games in the 100m hurdles in both 1996 and 2000. She has also participated in several world- and Asian championships: Yvonne is originally half Japanese and half Jamaican. In 1997 and in 2002 she became 1st at the ‘East Asian Games’ and the ‘Asian Championships’.
Yvonne is married to Larry Wade, also a former professional athlete and coach at UNLV. Yvonne has two personal records to her name which are currently still national records in Japan! She ran the 100 meters hurdles in 2000 in 13 seconds and the 60 meters hurdles in 1999 in 8.12 seconds! What a champ!
When Yvonne became Head Coach of the Track & Field program at UNLV in July 2007, it was her job to rearrange the ‘Rebel program’. Yvonne made the decision to look even more closely at the academic goals of student athletes within the recruiting process and not at just the athletic part. She said the following about this:
“UNLV has so much to offer its student-athletes. We have an incredible coaching staff that has so much coaching knowledge and competitive experience. We care about our student-athletes both on and off the track and we aspire for greatness in everything we do. Our goal is always to become Mountain West Champions, become ranked nationally and to graduate all of our athletes. “
Student athletes are in good hands with Yvonne and UNLV, which is one of the reasons that Dutch athlete Rosalie Breems made the switch to the Rebels this year! Last year Rosalie was 2nd in the 100m hurdles at the NKU18 with a bizarre time of 13.74! Rosalie’s career as a student athlete has only just begun, but we have every confidence that Yvonne is the right coach for her! Go Rebels!!
3. Kelly Kremer – Swimming and Diving Coach 2 University of Minnesota (UoM)
Kelly Kremer is Head Coach for both the Male and Female Swim and Dive Teams at the University of Minnesota! Before Kelly became a coach of the ‘Golden Gophers’, he swam at a high level. In 1991 and 1992 he participated at the US Open and finished fifth in the 100 meter. During his time as a student athlete he became NAIA National Champion 24 (!) Times and NAIA All-American 29 (!) times for ‘Drury University’. In 1992 he participated in ‘Olympic Trials’, which is the American selection process for the Olympic Games. Unfortunately he didn’t make it then: but later in his career he coached several NCAA champions and several Olympic Athletes!
Kelly started his 22nd season with Minnesota Swimming and Diving last year. In these seasons he has coached a lot of student athletes to great records and trophy’s. He also led the Women’s Swimming and Diving Team to a fourth consecutive Big Ten title in 2015! For the first time in the history of the school, a women’s team won the conference championship 4 times in a row. Kremer was thus named ‘Big Ten Women’s Swimming Coach of the Year’.
A special coach and a team full of great athletes! We are proud to tell you that the ladies swimming team of Minnesota has gained a special student athlete since this year: we are talking about Indy Jongman, slamstox-swimmer! Earlier this year Indy chose to continue her school and swimming career at the University of Minnesota: Keep it up Golden Gophers!
4. Pam Bustin – Head Field Hockey Coach @ Duke University (DU)
Pam Bustin, one of the secret ingredients to the Field Hockey success at Duke University! In 1990 Pam graduated from the University of Massachusetts: there she became team captain, she received the title for ‘best female athlete in 1988’ and won the NCAA Tournament four times with her team. That’s why Pam deserved a beautiful spot into the university’s Hall of Fame in 2012.
From 1987-1989 Pam was captain of the US Field Hockey Team U21, the team won a silver medal at the 1989 Junior Pan American Games under her leadership. In 1996 she played field hockey with the national American hockey team at the Olympics of Atalanta!
In addition to her aforementioned achievements, Pam also served as an assistant coach with America’s National U19 and U21 teams. She was previously an assistant to the US national team, helping the United States to eighth place at the 2008 Beijing Olympics! Pam is a US accredited ‘Level III coach’ and gives coaching courses all around the country.
It sounds like a privilege to us to be coached by Pam. One of our slamstox hockey players, Eva Nunnink, has this privilege! Earlier this year, she joined the Duke University Field Hockey Team, where Dutch hockey coach Ralph Boersma also works as an Assistant Coach. And not only Eva’s current coach was a Olympic Athlete, also her sister, Laura Nunnink, joined the Olympics! She is part of the National Dutch Field Hockey team!
And did you know that earlier this year, we made a super cool Field Hockey Webinar together with Ralph Boersma from Duke University and Slamstox Hockeyspecialist Kim? Check it out!
Keep up the good work, Blue Devils!
5. Jillian Ellis – Soccer Coach @ University of California, Los Angels (UCLA)
Anyone who watched the 2015 and 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cups knows her: Jill Ellis. She led the US women’s soccer team to the world title twice in a row. The USA won 2-0 against the ‘Dutch Orange Lionesses’ in the final of 2019. After 132 international matches, the amazing work of the 53-year-old English coach came to an end last year.
Moving to Northern Virginia as a child, Jill has lived and worked in the USA for a long time. Her father, John Ellis, founded a soccer school in Manassas.
Jill now has been part of UCLA for more than 20 years! ‘A master’s recruiter’, is what Jill is known at the university. Year in, year out she proves to attract the best players in the country to Westwood.
Jill Ellis can also be seen in ‘The Playbook’, a Netflix Original docuseries in which several great sports coaches have their say. The series is made to highlight the coaches behind great athletes or major championships, because an athlete can be so good: without a coach he or she is often nowhere.
Watch the trailer for The Playbook below, but make sure to watch the series on Netflix afterwards!
So far, Slamstox has not yet placed a soccer star who became part of Jill’s team. So soccer girls, ready for an adventure in Los Angeles? Let us hear from you!
Five great sports, five great coaches. However, one more important sport is missing: Golf. Every year many Golfing student-athletes go to the USA via Slamstox. The USA is the golf country in the world, the best courses, facilities, coaches and players can be found there.
However, Golf has only been part of the Olympics for one year now. At that time only 2 golfers per country were allowed to participate: almost all of them were current top-100 players. So far no College Golf Coach has joined the Olympics: to be continued!
Of course there are many inspiring College Golf Coaches to mention, we have selected a special College Golf Coach for this article:
6. Mike Small – Head Golf Coach @ University of Illinois (UIC)
Mike Small, former professional golfer and now Head Coach to the University of Illinois! Mike’s professional golf career began in 1990, playing on several tours until joining the PGA Tour in 1995. In 1998 his best finish was at the Bell Canadian Open, finishing 9th. In 2003, Mike won the Illinois PGA and Illinois Open titles: he became the first Golfer to win both tournaments in the same year! Mike has also won the PGA Professional National Championship three times, in 2005, 2009 and 2010.
In 2016, Mike turned 50 and qualified for his first Senior Major Championship, finishing as T-43 at the US Senior Open. Small has been the head coach of the golf team at the University of Illinois for 20 years now. He was named ‘Big Ten Coach of the Year’ in his second season, Illinois won the 18th NCAA Championship! Mike received this award again when Illinois won its first Big Ten title in 21 years, in 2009. He then led the Illini to the Big Ten Championship in each of the following four seasons.
In addition, he has been named Midwest Coach of the Year five times by the Golf Coaches Association! This happened in 2003, 2009, 2010, 2011 and 2013. His illini team won the school’s first-ever NCAA Regional Championship in 2013 and became second in the NCAA Finals. This results in the best finish of the year in Illinois school history. On October 25 2013, Small was inducted into the Illinois Golf Hall of Fame.
Do you want to become a student athlete, just like Fons, Rosalie, Jerry, Indy and Eva? Who knows, your future coach might be an Olympic athlete! Reach out, then we will discuss your options together.