The University of the Cumberlands (UC) swimming program has turned many heads in the past few years, continuing to compete year in and year out for an NAIA National Championship. The Patriots home meet win streak is one to envy around the nation as they have only lost two meets at home in the last 10 years, one of those being this year against the University of Tennessee. The Patriots have a lot of pride in their swimming program and have hired a coach that will continue to build the respect and dignity of this program, hopefully taking it to an even higher level.
Eric Skelly has been hired as the head coach of the University of the Cumberlands Swimming teams. When asked about becoming the head coach, Skelly commented, "I was extremely excited when I was offered the position at the University of the Cumberlands. The success that both the men and women have had is a testament to the commitment the department has in the program. I hope I can help elevate the program even higher and put us in a position where we will contend for a national title."
Skelly was previously an assistant coach for the University of Nevada for the past three years. Before coaching the Wolf Pack, Skelly was an assistant coach at Valparaiso University in Valparaiso, Ind. where he worked with the women and men's swim teams. He was the primary recruiter during his tenure at Valparaiso where he worked with the distance swimmers and individual medley specialists. In addition to coaching and recruiting he helped develop a comprehensive weight and dry land conditioning program.
Before coaching at Valparaiso, he spent three years as the assistant aquatics director and head age group coach at the Crawford Aquatic Center in Crawfordsville, Ind. where he worked with the Sugar Creek Swim Club. He coached several state champions and nationally ranked athletes of which 12 broke 17 team records. His coaching resume includes four years as the head age group coach for the Decatur Swim Club in Decatur, Illinois, a year as a volunteer assistant coach at Millikin University in Decatur, Illinois, and a year as the head swimming coach and assistant aquatics director at the Shelby "Y" Community Center in Shelby, Ohio.
As a collegiate swimmer, he earned All-American honors six times competing in the backstroke and distance freestyle for Ashland University in Ashland, Ohio from 1994-97. He helped Ashland reach NCAA Division II Championships four times during his career, earning top 10 finishes three times in 1995, 1996 and 1997. The team's top finish was fourth in 1997.
When asked about coming closer to home for the position at UC, Skelly replied, "It will be a big move from a large state school to a smaller liberal arts school but one I relish. I feel the smaller, more intimate educational experience fits perfectly with my background and being from Ohio, it's almost as if I'm coming home."
He is a Level 3 coach and is a SwimAmerica Instructor certified by the American Swimming Coaches Association.Skelly received a Bachelor's degree in Criminal Justice Administration from the University of Phoenix in 2005 and completed work on a master degree in sports administration in 2007 at Valparaiso. Eric and his wife Jennifer have two sons Drake, who is eight and Connor who is six.
"This will be a transition year but that will not diminish the quality of the training and the expectations I have for myself and the program," said Skelly. "My goal is to get as many athletes to nationals as possible and put both the men and women into the Top 10. I see a lot of great talent on the roster and I will work tirelessly to make sure that talent is maximized."
UC Athletic Director Randy Vernon commented, "I am excited to have Eric Skelly as our new Men and Women's Head Swimming Coach. He brings a variety of experience from many different levels of coaching, including six years as a NCAA Division I assistant. He is very enthusiastic about becoming a head coach and will inspire our student-athletes to be the best they can be. I am looking forward to working with Coach Skelly this year and for many years to come."