As former men’s swim and dive head coach Bob Thomas hung up the whistle last season, it was a familiar face that would succeed Thomas’ spot. Jeremy Agnew, a 1996 graduate from Ball State, made a strong impact in his homecoming to Ball State.
“I love this place, and it went a long way in shaping who I am,” Agnew said. “It was an opportunity for me to grow up here. I had a lot of growing up to do when I was here. It sent me on the path to my career, so to be able to come back and help my alma mater and coach a great group of student-athletes is an honor.”
Agnew began his head coaching career in 2000 at Yorktown High School, located 10 miles away from Ball State. At Yorktown, Agnew helped lead the girls’ swim and dive to a runner-up finish at the Indiana High School Athletic Association (IHSAA) State Championship in 2006. Agnew would finish his high school coaching career in 2007 before heading to Purdue.
“Coaching at Yorktown was a great learning opportunity in my career,” Agnew said. “I had the freedom to coach the way I wanted to coach with a great group of young high school student-athletes that were hungry to get better.”
At Purdue, Agnew was an assistant coach for 11 years. The Boilermakers finished in 13th place at the NCAA Championships in 2009, 2010 and 2017. The Boilermakers were also named the College Swimming Coaches Association of America (CSCAA) Scholar All-America team from 2008-2018.
During his time there, Agnew recruited student-athletes who excelled both in the pool and the classroom.
“We’re looking for the right student-athlete that fits well with our program,” Agnew said. “It’s not just about a time on paper.”
When Agnew was a student at Ball State, Laura Seibold-Caudill and Bob Thomas were coaches of the swimming teams. According to Agnew, these coaches understood coaching was all about the athletes. When Seibold-Caudill and Thomas were coaches, their athletes obtained success both in the pool and classroom.
“Seibold-Caudill and Thomas both knew how to be the right coach for student-athletes in and out of the pool,” Agnew said. “They knew how to value the human being experience above and beyond. They have been tremendous, liked to compete and they set a great foundation here.”
With a new season ahead, athletes couldn’t be happier. For the swimmers, Agnew brings a more team-oriented mindset as opposed to previous coaches. In the past, both the women’s and men’s teams were coached by different head coaches. They also practiced separately from each other. Junior Peighton Gilbert said she enjoys the advantages of practicing with the men’s team. .
“I like practicing with the men,” Gilbert said. “I think it makes us all work a lot harder because we’re all pushing each other through the sets.”
This team-oriented mindset brings a new attitude on deck. Diving coach Nick Gayes said the team is much different with this change.
“Change can be strange, change can be difficult,” Gayes said. “But Jeremy is on board now, and the team is really excited. There’s a different energy as a combined team now. He has been great to work with as far as having a head coach.”