HAWK ATHLETICS APPOINTS HEIMDAL AS HEAD TENNIS COACH
Dec. 13, 2011
PRINCESS ANNE, Md. – The University of Maryland Eastern Shore athletics program is pleased to announce that a new coach will be leading the men’s and women’s tennis programs this season. After much thought and consideration, the hiring committee has selected Dr. James Heimdal as the new coach of the UMES tennis program.
“I’m excited about getting started,” said Heimdal. “I have coached all of my life and played tennis for over 40 years. It’s an opportunity that I have been waiting awhile for.”
Heimdal replaces Harold Fowler, who led the men’s team to a MEAC Tournament berth for the first time since the conference went to two divisions in 2007. Fowler served as the head coach for two seasons as he took over the reins of the program halfway through the 2009 season.
Although a difficult task ahead, Heimdal is certain that he can resurrect the Hawks’ tennis program.
“We are going to start gradually,” said Heimdal. “Who we play is not my focus and I’m not overly concerned with wins and losses at this point. There are several changes that are going to happen from the start. We are going to have more structure, we are going to practice regularly and we are going to be in top physical condition.”
The new philosophy that Heimdal is looking to instill in his players is one that aims at bringing more dedication to the sport. It also incorporates the idea of letting student-athletes have a major role in all team related decisions.
“I’m bringing in a diplomatic coaching style,” said Heimdal. “I’m letting the players make many of the decisions in what goes on. We are going to come together to make a decision on several issues and once the decision has been made as a team, I will then hold individual players accountable. I want our student-athletes to experience success on a number of levels; it is not only about wins and losses.”
Heimdal brings a plethora of experience to the Hawk tennis program.
He began taking formal tennis lessons at the age of 10 and has been playing for almost 45 years. A graduate from Tulane University, University of New Orleans, and the University of Southern Mississippi, he has taught tennis at three different institutions and played competitively in high school.
Heimdal has also served as a head football, baseball, softball and rugby coach and has also been an assistant basketball coach. He currently serves as an Associate Professor and Chair of the Exercise Science Department at UMES. Through the years, he has been active in weekly adult tennis leagues that include tournaments, travel and fundraising.
The Aurora, Ill., native believes that the building of a tennis community at UMES is an important aspect in the development of the program.
“In time, I want the tennis program at UMES to be compared to our successful golf program,” explained Heimdal. “It’s my goal to build a niche within the University and create a culture that recognizes the value of tennis for our UMES graduates. A comprehensive UMES tennis program will certainly help with recruiting and it will provide a good way for all students to get involved with the sport.”
With the tennis program in mind, Heimdal is wasting no time in getting the Hawks in to gear this spring.
He has already announced senior Solana McMillian and sophomore Macolm Johnson as the captains for the upcoming season and has scheduled the first spring practice to begin in the third week of January. He will have only three weeks to get the team ready for their first regular season match as the team’s open the season on Friday, Feb. 18, with matches against St. Francis (Pa.) University.
“We are all really eager and happy about having him as our coach,” said Johnson. “I know it’s something he has waited a long time for. I know he will improve the team.”