Ashland University director of athletics Al King announced on Tuesday (Oct. 31) the selection of veteran coach Shaun Williamson to be the first women's lacrosse head coach in school history. AU's women's lacrosse program will begin competition in the spring of 2019.
Williamson comes to Ashland with 15 years of head coaching experience under his belt. He has spent the last seven seasons as the women's lacrosse head coach at NCAA Division III school Berry College in Mt. Berry, Ga. where he launched the program.
"We are extremely fortunate to attract a coach of Shaun's caliber to Ashland University," said King. "He's a veteran coach who's experienced success at several levels. He's been through the program-building process three times in his career. We believe we're getting a steady hand at the wheel, someone who can take a program and build it step-by-step. There will be no panic with Shaun. The big picture will always be foremost in his mind."
"This is the first time Ashland University has offered women's lacrosse as a varsity sport. I know there are some things we need to learn and I'm excited that Shaun has accepted our offer to come to AU and guide us on this journey. He's the perfect person to help grow women's lacrosse in Ashland, in Ohio and throughout the Midwest," said King.
"I'm really excited to start the women's lacrosse program at Ashland University," Williamson said. "I want to thank President (Carlos) Campo and Al King for allowing me this tremendous opportunity. Ashland has a great reputation in Division II athletics across the nation and I'm looking forward to getting started."
The opportunity at AU will be Williamson's fourth program-building project. He previously started the programs at NCAA Division II schools Lees-McRae (N.C.) and Belmont Abbey (N.C.) before becoming the first women's lacrosse coach at Berry.
At Berry, Williamson has compiled a 60-52-1 overall record, having coached five Intercollegiate Women's Lacrosse Coaches Association regional All-Americans and 26 All-Southern Athletic Association players. He also mentored the 2017 SAA Newcomer of the Year and the 2013 Offensive Player of the Year. His last four teams have all been named IWLCA Academic Honor Squads.
He was responsible for managing all aspects of the program, including recruiting, travel, off-season training, fundraising and budgeting. At Berry, Williamson also taught courses in the department of kinesiology.
Prior to Berry, Williamson spent four seasons as the head coach at Belmont Abbey where he accrued a 42-32 career record and achieved national success in a short period of time. Williamson coached three All-Americans and seven regional All-Americans at Belmont Abbey. His 2009 team was ranked nationally in the IWLCA coaches' poll for eight weeks and he was also named the 2008 WomensLacrosse.com National Coach of the Year for Division II. His teams at Belmont Abbey also excelled in the classroom, earning two IWLCA Academic Honor Squad citations, ranking as high as fifth nationally.
"I believe Shaun's presence will bring instant credibility to Ashland University lacrosse," King said. "He's a former NCAA Division II national coach of the year. He's someone who's respected across the country and his opinion is valued throughout the college lacrosse world. Shaun's teams have achieved at an extremely high level academically and athletically. He believes in the development of the student-athlete in all phases of life. His vision of program success lines up perfectly with the mission of Ashland University."
Williamson made his first head coaching stop at Lees-McRae where he spent two seasons building that women's lacrosse program from the ground up.
Williamson also has experience as a coach for USA Athletes International, guiding a team on a tour through Prague, Czech Republic. He has served on numerous committees with the IWLCA and was the SAA chair for women's lacrosse coaches.
Williamson is a 2002 graduate of Lees-McRae, earning a Bachelor of Science degree in history. He was a three-year starting attackman and letterwinner for the Bobcats. He also earned a Master of Arts degree in sport management and intercollegiate athletic administration from California University of Pennsylvania in 2009.