Section: Sports

Assistant coaches fill variety of roles to aid Lords and Ladies

Eight current Kenyon head coaches have won at least one Coach of the Year award in their Kenyon careers. But there are no awards for assistant coaches, who are often unsung heroes of their teams.

“I think if you looked at all of our assistant coaches, you would find a whole assortment of responsibilities, from coaching, to advising, to counseling, to being a liaison between the team and the head coach,” Interim Director of Athletics Amy Williams ’88 said.

Kenyon employs 24 full-time assistant coaches, and each of them plays a role in team training and development. Assistant coaches are responsible for general team logistics, planning individual workouts and conducting drills during practice. “I think most of our head coaches would say that in terms of the recognition brought upon the program, the assistant coaches are a big part of that in respect to the roles they play on a daily basis,” Williams said.

Morgan Korinek ’12, assistant women’s basketball coach, is one of these coaches. She is also one of a number of athletic staff that are former Kenyon athletes.

Coach Korinek shouts words of encouragement during an offensive drill in practice.

Korinek, who played for four years as a member of the team she now coaches, is halfway through her fourth season as a coach at Kenyon.  She is among the top 10 in nine different statistical categories in the Kenyon record book and has the highest steals per game rate of any player in Ladies history. Korinek is on the same coaching staff as Head Coach Suzanne Helfant, who was her head coach during her collegiate career from 2009 to 2012.

One of Korinek’s primary in-season duties is managing the scouting report for the Ladies. Korinek estimates that she handles about 90 percent of the scouting for the Ladies and spends several hours per day looking at film and analyzing upcoming opponents for the team. Korinek also runs the Ladies’ film sessions.

But Korinek’s duties go well beyond those responsibilities. In season, she takes care of all the travel details for the team by planning the itinerary on road trips. Korinek is also responsible for coordinating meals and making hotel arrangements when necessary.

During games, while Head Coach Helfant is often focused on the overall game plan, Korinek is responsible for writing up out-of-bounds plays and calling out switches on defense 

None of these duties measure in Korinek’s mind to what she considers  the most critical part of being an assistant coach. “Knowing the pulse of the team — that is an important part of being an assistant coach, as the head coach is a little more removed,” Korinek said. “It is the part of coaching that does not get talked about, and it is the part of coaching I enjoy the most. I played for the same coach, so I have been in their shoes.”

Williams stressed the importance of assistant coaches in cultivating meaningful relationships both on and off the playing field. “Relationships are huge in our profession, so absolutely a priority for us is to make sure they build those relationships around campus,” Williams said.

She encourages all of her coaches to leave their comfort zone and be a part of the Kenyon community. She said that many of them have an impact in the community beyond just their teams. Several coaches teach in the physical education program at the Kenyon Athletic Center.

While the swimming and diving teams have two practices during the week in season, Senior Assistant Coach Fernando Rodriguez ’04 and Assistant Coach Tracy Menzel ’09 work long hours beyond those practices. While the swimmers do not have to come to every practice during the week, Rodriguez and Menzel are on the deck for seven hours per day.

Each coach gets one off morning during the week. In addition, the coaches organize travel logistics, alumni events and high school recruiting. Rodriguez also teaches a human performance lab during the spring semester. “It’s more than a full-time job, for sure,” Rodriguez said. “In a typical job, you’re working nine to five. We work for a lot longer than that.”

Williams says that the College tends to look for assistant coaches who are “up and comers” in the industry, which usually means that a number of the assistant coaches have between one and five years of collegiate coaching experience before they come to Kenyon. After four to five years of coaching at Kenyon, many assistant coaches will move on to higher-paying positions, like head coaching or an administrative position at other schools.

Williams, who swam as a member of the Ladies team during her four years at the College, spent 14 years as a collegiate level coach, including some time as an assistant swimming coach at Kenyon. After six years as the head swimming coach at Trinity College (Conn.), Williams returned to Kenyon athletics in an administrative role and is in her 17th year back.

Korinek hopes to advance further in the field of coaching. “I definitely see myself wanting to be a head coach one day, because coaching is my career path,” Korinek said. “It’s what I want to do for the rest of my life. But I love it here at Kenyon. I find real value in what I do, giving back to the program I was a part of as an athlete. And whatever I put into the team I get back tenfold.”

While a head coaching position is often a more lucrative and recognizable position than serving as an assistant coach, Williams quickly pointed out how necessary assistant coaches are to their teams and the Kenyon athletics program.

“For our head coaches, when they earn accolades, they are very, very quick to say that they want to recognize their full staff, that the award should be the coaching staff of the year,” Williams said. “I think that is indicative of the impact that our assistant coaches have on our program.”

Coach Morgan:

In season– 90% of the scouting report

Always watching film

In season spending a lot of time on the scouting report

Takes care of all the travel details, travel itinerary

“Knowing the pulse of the team, that’s an important part as an assistant coach, as the head coach is a little more removed.” It’s the part that doesn’t get talked about, andits the part of coaching I enjoy the most. I played for the same coach, so I’ve been in their shoes.

Out of bounds play calls

Yell out a lot of the switches on defense.

Also responsible for running all of the strength workouts in the offseason.

Also on the road during the summer doing high school recruiting

“I definitely see myself wanting to be a head coach one day, coaching is my career path. It’s what I want to do for the rest of my life. But I love it here at Kenyon. I find real value in what I do, giving back to the program I was a part of as an athlete. And whatever I put into the team I get back tenfold.”

Ms. Williams

I think if you looked at all of our assistant coaches, you would find a whole assortment of responsibilites from coaching to advising to counseling to being a liason between the team and the head coach.

I think most of our head coaches would say that in terms of the recognition that is brought upon the program, that the assistant coaches are a big part of that in respect to the roles the play on a daily basis.

Our full time coaches go through a rigorous search process just like any other program on the campus. We’re looking for people who understand this place, understand the kenyon student athlete, understand the academic rigor so that they can relate to what we do beyond the boundaries of the Kenyon athletic center.

Look for people who are rising up in the industry, nurture them for 4-5 years before they go off for a higher paying job or a head coaching or administrative job.

Sometimes it is harder for a Kenyon alum to come back and experience the college through a different lens.

Encourage coaches to spread their wings in the kenyon community

-a lot of coaches teach in the phys ed curriculum

Relationships are huge in our profession so absolutely a priority for us is to make sure they build those relationships around campus and to participate in campus functions.

A lot of our coaches will go to the senior exercises of their players.

For our head coaches, when they earn accolades, they are very very quick to say that they want to recognize their full staff, that the award should be the coaching staff of the year. I think that is indicative of the impact that our assistant coaches have on our program.

Fernando’ 04

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