MARQUETTE, Mich. – After finishing last in the conference during the 2009-2010 season, the Wildcat Swim and Dive team look to improve this year under the leadership of new head coach, Heidi Voigt. The season starts Oct. 16 at home for the annual Green and Gold meet.
Voigt has been an assistant coach at New Mexico State for the past two seasons where she worked with the distance freestyle group, arranged team travel, and handled administrative duties. While at New Mexico she helped coach the Aggies to a second place finish at the Western Athletic Conference (WAC) Championships.
“I’ve been an assistant coach for seven years and was looking to run my own team and my own program,” Voigt said.
Assistant Coach Andy Ward will be starting his fifth season for the Wildcats. He has coached the diving team the last four seasons with his most recent success being Kelli Vander Baan’s ninth place finish during the 3-meter springboard competition at last year’s nationals.
Ward was a diver on the men’s team in 1979-80 and graduated from Northern in 1989 with a bachelor’s degree in secondary education. He graduated from Gwinn High School and still lives in the area.
“I was born and raised here in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan,” said Ward. “I love the U.P. and I love coaching divers. My goal is to keep this diving program headed in the right direction.”
Voigt said this year she expects the top prospects for the team to be senior Kelli Vander Baan, who has qualified three seasons for the NCAA Division II National Swimming and Diving Championship, sophomore Kelsey Sipple, and junior Stephanie Rogaczewski.
The Wildcats host 3 meets this year. The annual Green/Gold meet will be on October 16 at 11a.m. They also host Hillsdale (Oct. 30) and UW-Oshkosh (Nov. 6), with both meets starting at 11 a.m.
They also travel to UW-Eau Claire Oct. 23, the Calvin Invite Dec. 2-4, the Cocoa Beach Invite Jan. 6-7 and to UW-Stevens Point Jan. 21-22. GLIAC Championships are in Grand Rapids and the NCAA Championships are March 19 in San Antonio, Texas.
Voigt said she thinks this year’s biggest challenge will be the numbers.
“Our team is pretty small this year,” she said. “We don’t have much depth.”
For her first season with the Wildcat’s Voigt said she hopes to get the swim program back on track and back to being top notch like it was in the 90s.
“I hope I bring new energy and new excitement,” she said.
Written by: Alex Eisner
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