On Monday (July 8) afternoon, Ashland University Director of Athletics Al King announced the promotion of Kyle Walthall to Eagle head swimming and diving coach.
Walthall becomes the program's eighth head coach since it returned in 1986-87.
"Throughout the search process when I talked to people about Kyle, what I always heard was that he had a great desire to learn," King said. "No one takes more notes at clinics. No one watches more video. He's relentless in seeking out mentors and coaches in the swimming community so he can exchange ideas and philosophies. He's demonstrated in his time as an assistant coach that he can recruit, teach and communicate effectively.
"We're excited to present him with this opportunity."
Said Walthall, "I'm so excited. This is an awesome opportunity, and I'm looking forward to moving forward with the program."
Walthall, a 2016 graduate of York College of Pennsylvania, has spent the previous two seasons as Ashland's assistant coach. In the fall of 2016, he was an assistant at Division II Barton (N.C.) College, where he was instrumental in the launch of the swimming and diving program there.
As a collegiate swimmer, he was the 2016 NCAA Division III national champion in the 100 breaststroke, and competed in the Olympic trials in that event. He is a six-time NCAA All-American (2014-16) and was the Capital Athletic Conference Swimmer of the Year in 2014 and 2016 and the Rookie of the Year in 2013.
Walthall said his first priority moving forward is to find an assistant coach. Then, the goals are to move up the Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference ranks, followed by a return to Division II nationals.
"The GLIAC is tough," he said. "It's probably one of the toughest Division II conferences, so getting a higher place in that means being more involved in nationals. One goes with the other.
"We had a good (2018-19) year for those freshmen, and we're really looking to move forward with that. And the people we are bringing in are very excited, as well, so it's going to be a good year."
"Some will say Kyle's very young," said King. "We were all young once. What's important is what you do to mature and grow. Kyle brings enthusiasm and passion to this position. I think those traits, plus his dedication and commitment, will rub off on our student-athletes. By the way, we had three former swimming and diving coaches – Bill Dorenkott, Tim Verge and Paul Graham – who were all young and got their first head coaching job at Ashland. If Kyle can follow that lead, he'll be just fine."