Sometimes four years just isn’t enough at Idaho.
That seems to be the case for former Vandal swimmer Kelsie Saxe as she returned to Idaho where she swam at for four years. This time around she won’t be a student-athlete, but instead, an assistant coach.
“I think the special part about the University of Idaho is that while you’re here you will not only develop as a student or an athlete but really as a person,” said Saxe, who swam at Idaho from 2009-2013. “And so I think throughout my four years here I was able to take advantage of all the resources that they offer and it just really was a meaningful experience and something that I’ll cherish. So having that opportunity to come back I feel like is a complete privilege to be a part of someone else’s experience and hopefully they can have similar experiences where they grow as a student and an athlete and a person.”
Saxe replaced Scott Cameron, who accepted a women’s swimming head coaching job at Illinois State.
Saxe broke many school records as an Idaho swimmer, but those records have since been broken.
“She was one of the fastest breaststrokers in school history,” Idaho swim coach Mark Sowa said. “At one time (she) held the school record in the 100 breaststroke, 200 breaststroke, 200 IM and both medley relays. The cool part is all those records have been broken since she was here so that’s a good thing too. It means the program has moved forward.”
Saxe spent the last two years working toward her master’s degree at Tennessee, which she earned in recreation and sports management. While at Tennessee, she was the team manager for the men’s and women’s swim teams.
“Kelsie was a tremendous leader when she was here both in the pool, out of the pool, in the classroom, she’s just the confident Vandal,” Sowa said. “She’s a second-generation Vandal. Her father went to school here.”
Sowa coached Saxe during her junior and senior seasons at Idaho.
“I think it will be an asset that I swam for Mark so I know his value structure and I know that mine aligns really well with his and that’s something that’s really important to our team,” Saxe said.
Saxe said that if she wanted to coach, her choice would be Idaho.
“I always knew that I loved Moscow and I knew that I wanted to live out here eventually, for sure in the Pacific Northwest,” Saxe said. “And from the time that I graduated to the time that I came back, I went to the University of Tennessee and got my master’s and I had the opportunity to work with their team in a manager position and that really got me back into thinking about this sport and I wanted to give back to not only my sport but my university. So when I was there, somebody asked me if I was interested in coaching and I said I don’t know if I’m interested in coaching but I do know that the one place, if I did want to coach, the one and only place I want to coach is the University of Idaho and so when that position opened up I jumped on it.”
Saxe said she wants the Idaho swim program to continue to improve and win a Western Athletic Conference championship.
“I’d like to continue to progress and continue to build on what’s already been built as far as our program,” Saxe said. “Mark’s doing an amazing job as a coach and so continuing to build on what he’s already done, and two years ago we were second in the conference so we definitely have our eye on a championship and that’s something that is one of our goals.”
Garrett Cabeza can be reached at email@example.com or on Twitter @CabezaGarrett