SLIPPERY ROCK – Slippery Rock University head field hockey Coach Julie Swiney has announced that she will step down from her position at the end of May following a 10-year stint as The Rock’s head coach.
“We want to thank Julie for everything she brought to our program over the last decade,” said director of athletics Paul Lueken. “She not only turned the program around on the field, but she also oversaw the best academic performance in the country over the last decade, and that is something we are very proud of. Her teams have always demonstrated what it meant to be a student-athlete and have always represented Slippery Rock very well. We wish her and her family nothing but luck and happiness in their next endeavor.”
Swiney leaving Slippery Rock is strictly a family decision. Her husband was named the head baseball coach at the University of Mary Washington and the family is relocating to Virginia.
“I am so grateful to have had the opportunity to coach so many exceptional young women at such an amazing institution over the last 10 years,” said Swiney. “Earlier this year my family made the difficult decision to begin a new chapter together. While this is exciting for us, it is also extremely difficult because I truly love working at The Rock and coaching this program. We have worked hard over the last 10 years to create a strong tradition of athletic and academic success. I am so proud of the progress we made and thank all of the women that played for Rock hockey for making this so special. I also want to thank all of the women that served as assistant coaches over the last 10 years and the administration for supporting me and this team. I truly love this program and Slippery Rock University and will miss this greatly, but I am so thankful for the memories, relationships and experiences I gained here in the last 10 years.”
Swiney took over the program prior to the 2010 season after moving to SRU from American International College in Massachusetts. In her first season in charge of the program she led The Rock to 6 wins, matching the 3 previous years combined after SRU went 6-50 from 2007-09.
The direction of the program was immediately apparent that fall when SRU picked up wins over 3 teams ranked in the top 10 in the country. Swiney’s first banner victory came 6 games in when SRU upset No. 5 LIU Post, 4-1. The Rock then went on to sweep nationally ranked rival Indiana University of Pa. with a 2-0 victory over No. 8 IUP at home, and a 1-0 win over No. 7 IUP on the road to close the year.
The team won 6 games again in 2011 after posting a 6-13 overall record that included 8 losses to teams ranked in the top 8 in the national rankings.
The Rock closed the regular season with another upset victory, this time over No. 6 IUP, which clinched the first PSAC playoff berth for Slippery Rock since 1987.
In 2012, the program took another leap by jumping into the top 10 in the NCAA Division II national rankings for the first time. SRU reached as high as No. 8 in the poll and finished the year ranked No. 9 in the final rankings. The Rock was ranked for 7 straight weeks to end the season and reached the PSAC playoffs for the 2nd straight year. Slippery Rock finished the year 8-10, with 8 of those 10 losses coming to teams that ranked in the top 6 in the national poll, including 6 losses to teams ranked in the top 3 nationally.
Swiney was recognized by her peers following that season as the PSAC Coach of the Year.
Over her first 3 seasons Swiney’s teams won 20 games, more than tripling the number of wins from the 3 seasons before she arrived.
Things all clicked in 2017 when Slippery Rock posted its first winning record since 1998 and its first 10-win season since 1988. The Rock finished the year 10-9 and reached as high as No. 5 in the Division II national rankings after picking up wins over No. 3 West Chester and No. 5 Kutztown.
All told, Swiney finished her 10 years at Slippery Rock with a record of 68-117. Those 68 wins are the 2nd-most by a head coach in SRU program history and are the most victories ever recorded during any 10-year stretch in program history. The Rock combined for just 24 total wins over the 10 seasons prior to Swiney taking over in 2010.
Perhaps even more impressive about her overall record is that 75 of the 117 total losses came against teams that were ranked in the top 10 in the nation.
During her tenure, Swiney coached a total of 23 All-PSAC selections and 8 All-Americans.
Slippery Rock’s reputation in the classroom has been second-to-none with Swiney in control of the program. SRU has posted the highest team GPA of any field hockey team in NCAA Division II seven times in the last 10 years (2010, 2011, 2013, 2014, 2017, 2018, 2019), while ranking second once (2012) and 3rd twice (2015, 2016).
The program has also garnered 191 National Field Hockey Coaches Association national Academic Squad honorees (3.3 cumulative GPA or higher) and 43 NFHCA Scholars of Distinction (3.9 cumulative GPA or higher).
With the field hockey team’s success on the national level, it should come as no surprise that SRU has also dominated the PSAC’s academic rankings by recording the highest GPA of any team in the PSAC for the last 8 straight years in addition to having more than 150 student-athletes recognized as PSAC Scholar Athletes.
Swiney came to Slippery Rock after serving 4 seasons as American International College’s first field hockey coach. She also served as assistant compliance coordinator at American International and was a member of the NCAA Division II North Region advisory committee from 2008-10, the National Field Hockey Coaches Association’s All-American Committee and the North/South All-Star Game Committee.
Prior to being named as head coach at AIC in May 2006, Swiney served 1 season as an assistant coach under former Rock student-athlete and head coach Jenny Dumas at Washington & Jefferson College and 20 seasons as an assistant at Amherst College.