New Swim Coach Nathan Rhoads Challenged to Keep Winners Winning
Anytime coaches step into positions previously occupied by a five-time coach of the year to run the reigning No. 3 team in the country, they just about have to make their mantra that old Latin motto that doctors chant: Primum non nocere. First, do no harm.
That is exactly the position Arizona native Nathan Rhoads assumed on Aug. 3 when he joined the Brenau University Athletics department staff as head swim coach of the Golden Tigers. Before she left earlier this year to take an assistant coaching job at NCAA Division I Dartmouth in the Ivy League, Blaire Bachman during her five years at Brenau earned four coach of the year titles in the Appalachian Swim Conference and shared the national Coach of the Year title in 2014 in the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics – all after starting her career as the youngest head coach in the nation.
“There is no doubt that Coach Rhoads has some huge shoes to fill,” Golden Tigers Athletics Director Mike Lochstampfor conceded. “But he has the skills to make it work and continue building on what Coach Bachman began here in swimming.”
“We set out to find a college coach with the background and experience necessary to take over the reins of a championship-contending NAIA swim team and, with Nathan, I think we achieved that goal,” Lochstampfor continued. “He has a great vision for the future of the program and comes with the tools needed to propel this team forward. I am confident in his abilities and elated that he will be joining our Golden Tigers staff.”
Rhoads, who grew up in Phoenix, is a Level 4 Coach in the American Swim Coaches Association, which is awarded only to the top-ranked swim coaches in the nation. He has coached swimmers who have qualified for NCAA Division I championship meets as well as those who participated in Olympic trials, the U.S. Open and USA Swimming senior and junior nationals. He has also coached club swimmers who have been ranked in the top 10 in the United States and members of high school All-American and Scholastic All-American teams.
“I’m excited to be here. Brenau is one of the top NAIA swimming programs in the country,” said Rhoads. “It’s fun to have an opportunity to compete for a national championship. I am determined to help make that happen.”
Rhoads received a Bachelor of Interdisciplinary Studies from Arizona State University in 2003. He comes to Brenau with 16 years of experience, three at the collegiate level and 13 as a USA Swimming club coach. Most recently, Rhoads served as assistant coach at Gardner-Webb University from 2012-15.
“I have enjoyed the sport of swimming all my life. I swam competitively in high school and began coaching while in college. I love working with swimmers because they are unique, hard-working, exceptional people and excellent students.”
Lochstampfor said that Rhoads’ contacts in and out of the region will help him recruit fresh, talented swimmers from around the country and internationally. However, the new coach has one distinctive advantage coming in to start the new job a little less than two months away from the team’s Sept. 26 opening meet: He will have an experienced team packed with All-America talent.
Although the 2015-16 Golden Tigers swim team lost senior All-American freestyle and championship relay contender Shelby Rumker of Douglas, Georgia, and Appalachian Swim Conference freestyle champ Michelle Billeaud of Lafayette, Louisiana, numerous standout swimmers from last year’s squad remain on the team. The roster retains All-Americans Courtney Hayward, a junior from Townsville, Australia; Ella Kleinschmidt, a sophomore from Hervey Bay, Queensland, Australia; Talia Sola, a junior from Madrid, Spain; senior Mary Katherine Jabbia of Slidell, Louisiana; and Rumker, Hayward and Billeaud’s relay teammate Alisha Hodgetts, a junior from Perth, Australia. And, before Rhoads’s arrival, Bachman and other coaches had stocked the pond with four freshman swimmers with outstanding high school records: Lindsay Dowling from Winston, Georgia, Alyssa Hardin from St. John’s, Florida, Devin Horan from Savannah, Georgia, and Margaret Norton from Richmond Hill, Georgia.
“Coach Bachman did a fantastic job as coach, and I want to build upon the success she had,” said Rhoads. “I want to come in this season and help the team work hard to meet and achieve team and individual goals. And to have some fun.“
Rhoads and his wife Sheryl have two children: Lily, 4, and Katherine, 2.