Rising #ACOY Finalists Step Up When Needed

Eight finallists have been selected for the CollegeSwimming Assistant-Coach-of-the-Year.  Finalists were selected in two categories - Established Assistant and Rising Assistant.  The four finalists for this year's Rising Assistant are Chris Carter of William & Mary, Vanessa Williamson of Bates College, Colleen Murphy from the Air Force and Florida International's Ignacio Gayo. 

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Fans are encouraged to vote for their choice via Twitter.  This year's award-winner will be announced next Monday.  Here are brief excerpts of each coach's nominations.  You might grab a tissue before reading them:

Chris Carter, William & Mary

Chris is loyal to a fault, willing to go the extra mile to make sure our swimmers have what they need to be successful. He has an uncanny ability to connect on a personal level with everyone. He puts our swimmers at ease and makes them laugh. He is honest with them and in return, they are willing to share their thoughts, concerns, and emotions with him. This season, with the death of my daughter, I was unable to dedicate as much time and effort to the team as I usually would. With Chris at the helm, they didn’t miss a beat. -Matt Crispino

Earlier this year our team confronted serious tragedy when our head coach's daughter passed away. Chris has been our rock during this incredibly difficult time, as Matt’s priorities necessarily shifted away from the pool deck. He strikes the rare balance between being a great coach, mentor, and friend. Chris has helped our program achieve so many of its goals in the water, but more importantly, he has supported all of us when we needed someone to lean on. He deserves to be recognized for the outstanding role model and coach that he is. - Emma Merrill

Ignacio Gayo, Florida International

Ignacio’s contributions to our program are not limited to the dominant performances of his athletes in the pool. Ignacio is an integral part of the heart and soul of our program. Ignacio has become the coach our ladies can rely on to work through any problems they may have in or out of the pool. He is a truly compassionate coach that has the best interest of his athletes as people first. -Randy Horner

My swimming experience changed completely with Ignacio. I begun to enjoy it again and to realize that swimming is so much more than just a sport. I really have to thank Ignacio for this, for all the times he believes in me, and all the time he spends trying to make me be a better athlete and a better person.  - Bertelli letizia

Colleen Murphy, Air Force

This coach is both an established piece of the fabric of NCAA Swimming and a rising mentor for female coaches. She works hard at maintaining a healthy home life with her husband and two children, while helping the AFA female swimmers perform at the highest levels.   On a personal note, I have been dealing with side effects of chemo therapy this winter. She has picked up the slack in every area---from recruiting to coaching and scheduling. During one particularly difficult week she made sure I had food at my house!  - Casey Converse

USAFA is different; Colleen respects those differences, helping us to swim faster personally and as a team while also maintaining all the other aspects of our cadet lives. What I love so much about Colleen is that she knows swimming isn't my life. She knows it is important to me, but also knows that once I'm done here, I'm going to be a leader in the Air Force. She knows this so she gives me opportunities to lead and make mistakes so I can learn from them. I love having her as my coach and as a mentor. I am thankful that I have gotten the opportunity.  -Emily D'Amato

Vanessa Williamson, Bates College

When looking for a coach that will bring success to a program it is easy to focus on both the daily training of athletes and the recruiting of future athletes, but Vanessa has not stopped there. Over the past two years she has taken an increasingly larger role in the administrative side of the program. From initiating and running local youth clinics, setting up our lesson program, and organizing swim camps... to ordering suits, food, entering meet lineups, and finalizing expense reports - there is truly nothing a head coach does that she has not yet asked to tackle - and tackle successfully. -Peter Casares

Most coaches are committed to developing their athletes in many different ways above and beyond their desired sport. Her ability to communicate effectively -  on the pool deck, in the dining hall, or other friendly meeting places on and off campus - allows myself, and my teammates to grow and evolve as not only athletes, but also students and members of our community. Sara Daher