After spending its first 43 years as a school-sponsored sport under Larry VanWagner, Marist Swimming and Diving has its second ever head coach in Anthony Randall.
After five years at Fresno State University, serving as an assistant coach, Randall looked to take his swimming expertise back home. Randall and his wife, Corrie, began discussing a move back east to be closer to his family as they continued to raise their now two-year-old son, Janai.
Randall was born and raised in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, and attended the University of Rhode Island where he was a four-year varsity swimmer. Randall served as tri-captain at URI in 2007 and was a top-five performer in the 50m and 100m Freestyle. Upon graduation from URI, Randall was the head men’s club swimming coach from 2010 to 2011 and later became the associate head coach at URI, from 2011 to 2016 in which he helped the Rams break 36 varsity records.
Marist had been on Randall’s radar ever since he met former Marist Water Polo Head Coach, Natalie Benson.
“Natalie and I shared an office so I saw her every day as she was developing the water polo program,” Randall said. “In talking with Natalie, I told her what I was looking for within the area and she raved about Marist College. She loved her time here, she loved the people she worked with, and she loved the community.”
Upon hearing the news that VanWagner was retiring from the program in November, Randall hoped the scout to find a new coach would go to a public search, and to his luck, it did.
On June 25, Randall was named head coach of the Men’s and Women’s Swimming and Diving team, the first head coaching position of his career. In speaking with Director of Athletics Tim Murray, Randall knew Marist was the place to be for him to begin this next chapter.
“All of the things Tim was looking for were things I was hoping to have in a program I was going to lead going forward.”
Randall says he is different from VanWagner, who coached for 45 years in the pool, serving as the only other head coach in Marist swimming and diving history. “From day one of coaching, I have learned that all I can be is myself. My most authentic self is my best self.”
In taking over for VanWagner, Randall sees it as a motivation rather than an expectation.
“I do not think of it as pressure, I think of it as fueling my fire to help the program succeed. Me being the new coach and being a different style from Larry I think is an exciting change for the team because it is different.”
At Fresno State, Randall helped the program break 26 school records in the pool which in part led to the commitment of seven of the highest-ranking California recruits in school history. Randall’s success at Fresno State is related to his emphasis on the player to coach relationships.
“Once we established that bond at Fresno State it allowed us to challenge the swimmers not only in the pool but in the classroom,” Randall explains. “I think that set a strong foundation to push people beyond what they thought they could do.”
Care, understanding, and compassion are just a few of the traits Randall values when coaching these young adult athletes through “a very important time in their lives,” he says.
Randall places value on academic success saying first and foremost. His athletes are students and believe the success in the pool will come from academic success. “That is something we put a great priority on; you are an athlete but you are a student first,” he says.
Settling into his new position, Randall is both eager and optimistic for the season to begin.
“Coming into a new position, one of the things a new coach struggles with is that team cohesion, but I have to say that has been an easy part for me,” he notes. “This team is really close and because of that bond, they are already a unified team. From day one they have been eager to get in the water.”
In year one, Randall’s goals are clear — establish a culture and a strong foundation.
“I think that is going to be the core of our success moving forward,” He added. “When new people come into our team I want them to know what we are all about and what we stand for. So for year one, it is all about making sure that we establish our culture, our standards, our expectations for what we have for the program. I believe that if we do that the correct way it will carry over to success in the pool.”
Randall knows Marist’s swimmers always have their eyes on winning the MAAC, but for Randall whatever comes from the foundational groundwork put forward will be rewarding enough for him in his first year as head coach.
“Every day I come into the pool I see the conference championships on the wall and I am fully aware of the culture and success of the program and I am looking forward to taking that next step.”
Edited by Mackenzie Meaney and Jonathan Kinane
Photo from Marist Athletics