After an extensive search, The University named Mark Yankovich the new head coach of the men’s and women’s swimming and diving teams in late September.
Yankovich takes over for Paul DeAngelo, who previously served as the teams’ head coach.
Despite entering his first year at The University, Yankovich is a seasoned coach. Prior to moving to Scranton, Yankovich served at both Lafayette College and Washington College. Yankovich’s most recent position was at La Salle University, which boasts a Division 1 program.
So far, both the men’s and women’s teams have won both of their meets and are off to a 2-0 start. Yankovich said his excitement level for the start of the season is a microcosm of the character of the team.
“I think I’m most excited about moving forward and getting our team out there, having fun, swimming and racing,” Yankovich said. “We have a great group of kids, and they’re working really hard.”
Last year, The University’s swimming and diving teams were suspended for violating The University’s conduct policy. The teams’ season ended prematurely because of the alleged suspensions.
Despite the murky season that was last year, Yankovich said the team is focusing on putting the incident behind them.
“This is an awesome group of kids, and they’re looking forward to moving forward, and that’s what we’ve been doing,” Yankovich said. “The past is the past, and we need to be focused on how we’re going to improve, and how Scranton’s going to improve all of us as swimmers, people and as a team. We have a great group of kids who are up to the challenge of setting a new mark in Scranton swimming.”
Yankovich mentioned the benefit of having a litany of leaders on the team.
“Here’s how I look at leadership: If you’re a leader, you prove yourself every single day. Basically what I’ve noticed, is that a lot of different members of the team are proving themselves in different spots. Whether it be seniors with their experience, mentoring the younger swimmers and taking them under their wing,” Yankovich said.
“We have other leaders who are leading community service events and getting us out on campus. And we have other leaders who work hard at practice, and do it without speaking up, and just come in and do it every single day. We have all different types of leaders on the team. I think it’s important for everyone to have at least some leadership.”
Since Yankovich has coached at numerous institutions, he has an ample amount of experience. Yankovich hopes that experience will help him.
“At La Salle, I got to work with a lot of great athletes and personalities. The one thing they taught me is they know how to work really hard, which showed me what you need to expect from a swimmer.”
While Yankovich’s excitement transcends the regular start of the season, the first-year head coach remained coy about certain expectations.
“I don’t set expectations like ‘we should be at the NCAA Tournament,’ or anything like that. Instead, I just want to see what we can do, and I don’t want to limit them in that fact,” Yankovich said. “Some of our goals, though, are winning the conference for the women’s, and for the men’s team to place in the top third. I think those are definitely realistic.”
The teams return to action Nov. 5 against Juniata College and Goucher College.