Miami University Athletics will have some large shoes to fill as women’s swimming and diving Head Coach Dave Jennings announced that he will be retiring.
Jennings led the RedHawks to 16 Mid-American Conference (MAC) championships in his 31 years of coaching.
“It was a hard decision,” Jennings said. “The main reason was that I am ready to move on and spend time with my family. I feel like I have accomplished a lot of the goals I have set for myself and I’m ready to move on to different things. Coaching, like any other job, takes up lot of your time.”
Jennings will retire as a MAC Champion as he coached the ‘Hawks to first place just under two months ago. He led the RedHawks to first or second place MAC finishes in 25 of his 31 seasons.
“It’s nice to make this decision and go out on my own terms,” Jennings said. “[The MAC Championship] is just icing on the cake.”
Senior Stacie Clagg, who competed in the breaststroke and individual medley, said Jennings did a great job connecting with the athletes.
“[Jennings] wasn’t focused on just swimming, he cared about each athlete as a person,” Clagg said. “By the end of my senior year I had done things I never thought I could do.”
Senior Bekka Westrick, who qualified for the NCAA championships in the 100 freestyle, said Jennings helped her succeed.
“I think [Jennings] helped me build confidence in and out of the pool,” Westrick said. “He just cared about us a lot; he wanted all of us to succeed.”
Miami Athletic Director David Sayler had great praise for Jennings.
“[Jennings] embodies everything we hope this athletic department to be,” Sayler said. “He is an exemplary employee; he has a lot to be proud of.”
Jennings finished his coaching career with a dual meet record of 265-105, a .716 win percentage. The classes of 1986, 1987, 1988, 1999 and 2005 won every MAC Championship they competed in under Jennings. He coached 104 athletes to individual MAC Champion finishes.
Despite being Miami’s winningest single sport coach, Jennings did not say winning was his favorite part of coaching.
“Favorite part [of coaching], huh? That’s a hard question,” Jennings said. “I would say working day to day with the student athletes and seeing them develop is my favorite part, it’s a lot of fun.”
Sayler said Miami will begin a nationwide search for a replacement in the future.
“We have to post the position and have interviews in the next month or month and a half,” Sayler said. “We would consider the assistant coach a candidate, but we will cast an open net.”
Sayler said the job opening should be an attractive one due to the program’s success.
“[Jennings’] print is all over the program and his presence will be felt, he has left a long lasting legacy,” Sayler said. “We’re going to miss him. He’s a great coach, a great teacher, and more importantly, a great man.”