MWPA Announces Regional Coaches of the Year
The Michigan Water Polo Association has named its four Regional Coaches of the Year as voted upon by the Coaches of the MWPA.
In the East Region, Grand Blanc's Emily Overmyer is the girls coach of the year, while Ann Arbor Pioneer's Don Packard has won his second consecutive boys coach of the year honors.
In the West Region, East Kentwood's Jarod Lane has been named girls coach of the year, while Jenison's Jason Sweedyk earned the honors as boys coach of the year.
Each of the Four Head Coaches have been named the coach for their region's team at the 2nd Annual All-Star Classic, pending availability.
Girl's East Region Coach of the Year
Emily Overmyer | Grand Blanc
The Bobcats of Grand Blanc have been inching up on this moment for a few years now under Overmyer.
For the first time ever, the Bobcats are District Champions. For the first time in a decade, Grand Blanc cracked their way into the MWPA's top ten. They have a 100-goal scorer, have won four player of the week awards. At 13-4-1, the Bobcats ran District 3 and dominated District's. Grand Blanc is on the furthest edge of the MWPA's map. Travel is lengthy at minimum, but under Overmyer they've improved vastly over the last few years. All of it has culminated in this opportunity as she attempts to guide Grand Blanc to their first EVER State Tournament, trying to become the second District 3 team in as many years to make their first ever visit.
Boy's East Region Coach of the Year
Don Packard | Ann Arbor Pioneer
At this point, it's a wonder the award isn't named after him. When it's all said and done for Don, it very well might be. He's a four-time state coach of the year, and coached his teams to five state titles dating back to the 1980's.
He tests his teams with great strength of schedule - this year, Pioneer has played more games vs. top ten teams than any in the state with 19. He continuously puts them in positions to peak late in the season, and is a master game-planner. One of the MWPA's All-Time greats, Packard isn't slowing down. The Pioneers have been ranked in the top four all season, and last weekend pulled off a big District Championship game victory just a few days ago against one a cross town rival who has become one of the state's most explosive teams. It's the second consecutive East Region Coach of the Year
honor for Don Packard whose Pioneers are
trying to add to his already impressive five
Girl's West Region Coach of the Year
Jarod Lane | East Kentwood
From the experience of this writer in limited head coaching action, Jarod Lane is one of the more frustrating coaches to duel with (in a good way - Jarod is a nice dude!). An architect of a gritty and strong defensive group, his teams largely play the same style year in and year out. Change the skill level, roster size, no matter what, they stick to the Jarod Lane blueprint.
The Falcons started the year unranked and have spent the entire season since inside the top ten coming off a rebuilding year last year. With the commitment, buy-in, and a few big top ten upsets, Jarod Lane worked his way into one of his best performances and was deservingly named the coach of the year in an extremely deep girl's west region. Side note - sick red pants on this guy!
Boy's West Region Coach of the Year
Jason Sweedyk | Jenison
It's been a Sweed Return (HA! Puns) for a long time member of the MWPA community. While he's come, moved on, returned a few times, at no time did he lose his feel for the sport and the job.
Much like Jarod Lane's East Kentwood group, they were outside the top ten all of last year and started outside it this year. But the start was furious for Jenison and the momentum turned into big wins, close calls against top teams, and Sweedyk's imprint on the team became clear. A physical and strong defensive team with good goaltending is a pretty good recipe for success, it it appears Sweedyk's impact was felt immediately. They finished ahead of two teams in their District that went to the State Tournament a year ago for a second place regular season finish in District 1. Their task to make that tournament is tall, but with Sweeds at the helm, this season for Jenison it appears anything is possible.