On Nov. 1, 2019, the Thundering Herd women’s soccer team completed its fourth straight season under the .500 mark and three days later, 12-year head coach Kevin Long resigned from his position at the helm of the program.
Marshall Athletics Director Mike Hamrick then announced a nationwide search for the next head coach.
The nationwide search did not have to go very far. Hamrick and the Herd tapped Michael Swan, assistant coach for Conference USA foe Charlotte as the program’s next head coach.
Swan said that this familiarity with Marshall and the state of West Virginia was one of his leading reasons as to why he wanted to apply for the job in the first place.
“I was being pretty specific for what I was looking for if I was going to make a move,” Swan said. “I spent a lot of time in Huntington with Charlotte, coming here a couple times. As a college soccer player myself at Bluefield, I was pretty familiar with the area and West Virginia soccer, so I saw it as an amazing opportunity for me and my family.”
Swan said that another contributing factor to him taking the job was the community aspect of Marshall and Huntington.
“When I came up in the interview process with my wife, we left the hotel and we both sat there and we loved it,” Swan said. “We loved the fact that the community was all brought in, we loved the fact that the university was just willing to put their arms outs for anyone who comes through the door.”
Graduate student defender Metztli Gonzalez said it is great for the program to have brought in someone that is familiar how the team works.
“It kind of is an advantage because he has seen us play and he kind of knows our style, so its not completely new,” Gonzalez said.
Gonzalez, who had a redshirt year from where she was hurt in the beginning of her sophomore season, had a choice to use the year here under a new head coach, grad-transfer out or hang up her cleats. She chose to use her one season of remaining eligibility with the Herd, and Swan said her leadership will help them as a team this year.
“She’s a great leader, that’s the first thing I will say about Metz,” he said. “Coming in, you can see all the younger players, but you can certainly see her leadership and maturity. She’s going to help mold us for the future.”
Swan began to make the program his own by naming Austin O’Connor as assistant coach Feb. 10. Swan said he and O’Connor have a connection that goes back for more than a decade and O’Connor will be a big asset to the program.
“He’s one of the hardest working young coaches I could really see having by my side,” Swan said. “He’s someone that I can really trust, I think he’s going to do fantastic things with the players.”
Swan said he hopes to build up to wins with the team.
“I wouldn’t want to say we are going to shoot for the stars and win it, but we are going to shoot for the stars and say we are going to be in the top half,” Swan said. “I think that’s realistic for us, you gotta build on those little victories.” Spencer DuPuis can be contacted at [email protected]