Saint Louis U Removes Interim Tag, Names Mary Woods Head Coach

Saint Louis University has announced Mary Woods as their next head coach of the combined women’s and men’s swimming and diving team, removing the interim tag she held this past season.

Woods was appointed as the interim head coach early into the 2022-23 campaign after the resignation of the previous head coach, Jim Halliburton. Halliburton resigned a week into the school year, leaving the school scrambling to find a new head coach.

Woods, who had spent two years as a graduate assistant with the program and one as a full-time assistant, was tabbed to fill the role temporarily in October. At the time, SLU’s athletic director, Chris May, said “It is in our student-athletes’ best interest to focus on the team now and discuss the search after the season. I have great confidence in Mary and the way in which she is leading the teams.”

That confidence has now been rewarded with Woods officially earning the full-time head coaching gig on Monday.

“I am so grateful for my time spent at SLU thus far, and I am beyond excited and honored to continue with this team as head coach,” said Woods. “I truly believe in the SLU experience and what we can provide our student-athletes from an educational, competition and community-building standpoint. SLU is a very special place to be, and I am so proud to be a part of it.”

May echoed her statement.

“Mary’s ability to lead the program with our departmental values of educating, competing and building community, and especially her caring for our student-athletes during a challenging time, will undoubtedly serve our young women and men well,” the athletic director said.

Prior to her coaching career, Woods swam for Carmel High School and Carmel Swim Club. She went on to compete for Division III Depauw University in Greencastle, Indiana, where she was a team captain. Her best North Coast Athletic Conference finish came as a sophomore, where she placed second in the 100 IM and seventh in the 100 breast. She graduated with school records in the 100 IM, as well as being a part of the 200 free relay, 200 medley relay, and 400 medley relay teams.

At the 2023 Atlantic 10 Championships in February, the SLU Billikens set four new school records, led by freshman Teddy Ament’s record in the 1650 freestyle, where he also set the 1000 record with his split. The teams finished 10th in the women’s rankings and eighth in the men’s, the same finish both teams had the year prior.

Outside of the pool eight swimming and diving athletes were recognized with postseason academic honors, with senior Daniel Verdico being awarded an Atlantic 10 Conference All-Academic honor.

The SLU website lists Renee Ham as an assistant coach, and Austin Mayer as a graduate assistant, both of whom worked with Woods when she spent time as the assistant coach and interim head coach last year.

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3 months ago

D1 head coach under 30 years old, how many times has it happened?

Reply to  Crimson
3 months ago

Margo Geer comes to mind.

Creed Ko
Reply to  Crimson
3 months ago

Cheap labor. Reason Jim left to go across town to be an asst for more money.

JP input is too short
Reply to  Creed Ko
3 months ago

Kinda sad they lost perhaps the most storied coach (and one of the best swimmers, as well – behind maybe only Tom Jager and Steve Crocker, the latter whom Jim coached at Rockwood) in the history of St. Louis area swimming because they wouldn’t pay him more than peanuts.

Last edited 3 months ago by JP input is too short
Reply to  JP input is too short
3 months ago

Billy Stapleton actually made the Olympic Team in 1988.
Jim claimed to make the team in 1980 yet his place at trials does not seem to support that. He was not top 2 in the 100 Fly and yes I am aware USA did not go to the games. The problem is that his bio for two different teams in St. Louis had him as a member of the 1980 Olympic team. Jim was very fast, but even faster in his own mind.

JP input is too short
Reply to  Gunky
3 months ago

I don’t know much about that, I haven’t really read any of his old bios and he’s never claimed to me that he made/would have made the team. I just know he’s been a huge part of St. Louis swimming for decades and I appreciate when I can get some coaching from him.

Reply to  Gunky
3 months ago

1980 was the last year countries could take 3 in each event to the Olympics. Even though US boycotted games, they still named 3 per event to Olympic team. Jim placed 4th missing the team by .01 but was part of a National Team selected to compete in a meet after the games. So did Jim say he made the Olympic team? Or the alternate national team selected at the Irvine Trials in 1980?

Reply to  Crimson
3 months ago

Often enough that making a list would be too long – even if we limited it to the last decade (it was rather common place in prior generations – Jack Bauerle was 26 when he took over as the Georgia women’s head coach, for example).

Certainly not the norm, though, in the modern day.

Comfy Pants
3 months ago

Love it when promoting from within is a win/win!