LIU-Brooklyn – College Swimming Startup – SPOTLIGHT

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April 14, 2016
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LIU-Brooklyn – College Swimming Startup – SPOTLIGHT

LIU Blackbirds team

Long Island University-Brooklyn

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LIU Brooklyn Blackbirds Swimming

Inaugural Season: 2015-2016

Head Coach: Tiffany Clay

Tell us about your swimming and coaching background:

I am a University of Tennessee Lady Volunteer alum, 7 time All-American, 1 time Academic All-American, and Olympic Trials qualifier. After retiring from swimming I took a position as an assistant coach at the University of Connecticut for two years as the sprint coach then moved on to the assistant coach at UNC Wilmington for four years where we won CAA Championships #10-13 of 13 championships consecutively. Starting a position in an already successful program was exciting, stressful and extremely rewarding. During my fourth year I found out about the opportunity to start a new Division I women’s swim team in Brooklyn. I accepted the position before Christmas, left the day after conference and spent the next year recruiting 11 outstanding ladies to start up our inaugural team.

In your interview, what is the University’s vision for the program?

LIU Brooklyn Athletics is no stranger to starting up programs. We’ll be adding women’s field hockey this coming fall and women’s bowling and lacrosse came in the seven years prior to my starting. The school already had a pool that was competition size and they found the money to fund a team. I’m not sure they expected us to have the level of success we’ve had our first year out especially not to end up with a winning season record but they’ve been there for us every step of the way. It was the quiet kind of support where they were there for me when I needed them and understood they needed me to teach them about having a swim team. Experiencing that level of confidence in me certainly elevated my performance and work ethic to make the most of the support they were giving me. I came into a very strong family with excellent communication and I am confident that we can keep producing student-athletes that live up to the high standards the existing student-athletes have set.

What is your vision for the program?

I want a team of happy, healthy and motivated young ladies that look forward to overcoming challenges together, fostering an environment safe for success and failure, and pushing each other to be the best possible versions of themselves every day. In other words, a family. If the focus is on the process we might win some championships along the way.

What are some of your strongest held coaching beliefs?

Substance matters. No matter how good we look in our uniforms or how much pride we have in our university, it’s how we act when there’s no reward and no one looking that defines us as a team. Positivity is a force of good. Be accepting of imperfections. We all have bad days and we all make mistakes and say the wrong thing. Accepting that others are imperfect allows us to forgive and forget quicker.

At the end of the day, if my swimmers miss their collegiate experience after they graduate then I’ve done my job. It kills me to see seniors counting down the days until they’re done with enthusiasm. Swimming is a life sport and I hope all of my alumni go on to swim with enjoyment for the rest of their lives and give back to the swimming community.

Do you have scholarships? And if so, how many?

Yes, 5, and there will be more each year as we grow. It’s nice to be a part of a University that follows words with action to prove their support.

What conference are you in, and who are the other teams in it?

Northeastern Conference: Wagner College, Central Connecticut State University, St. Francis University (PA), St. Francis College Brooklyn, Mount Saint Mary’s, Bryant University, Sacred Heart University

Let’s look out three years from now. Describe the program you have built.

I’d like to think it’s in sync with my visions for the program: happy, healthy and successful young ladies. By then we’ll have grown to a size where hopefully we’ll have the depth to be vying for a conference championship and maybe some representation on the national level.

Who are you searching for? Describe your ideal recruits.

I recruit personalities: Adventurous, outspoken but respectful, leaders, drama-free, accepting of imperfections, competitors, stewards of the community, students of their sport, a force of positivity, and accountable. Above all someone who exhibits empathy.  Being able to put yourself in someone else’s shoes and act accordingly plays a big part in a successful team environment. This is really hard to recruit over email and sometimes phone calls so I prefer to spend the bulk of my time recruiting on video calls or in person.

How can LemonAid add value to your job, and help you build your program?

LemonAid has certainly streamlined the initial contact and interest. It’s especially helpful to a program like mine who many people don’t even know exists and is a fully operational (and so far, fairly successful) Division I program. Because it gives recommendations based off your searches and likes, recruits could find LIU Brooklyn that might have never considered it an option. I spent a lot of time cold-calling and emailing when I spent a year recruiting to start this program. A year and a half later I’m just now starting to get emails from recruits that I haven’t reached out to first. LemonAid will absolutely help that recruiting base grow.


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Eric Knight
Eric Knight

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