Few people have the chance to be the first head coach of a college’s new athletic program, but Aaron Mahaney is now a member of this select group. Since being named the University of Montevallo’s head coach for the men’s and women’s swimming programs, Aaron has stayed busy with recruiting efforts and prep work for the Falcons’ inaugural season of competitive swimming. We got a behind-the-scenes look at the excitement Aaron has been a part of since joining the UM family.
What have you been up to since you were named UM’s first head coach of the men’s and women’s swimming programs?
As soon as I got to Alabama, I hit the ground running. The first thing I did was buy a beautiful home in Montevallo, followed quickly by spreading the word about the new program. In doing so we were able to recruit 34 student-athletes from around the country. When not working I have enjoyed kayaking the Coosa River, hiking Oak Mountain and connecting with the Michigan State Alumni Group of Alabama to watch games in Birmingham.
What does it mean to you to be the first coach of a new athletic program?
It is an incredible honor to be chosen as the first coach ever. The university has put their trust in me to lay the foundation and build a new team. Coming from a school where the men’s swim team and three other sports were dropped, it means even more to me to be able to add opportunities for high school swimmers to continue their career in college. The best part about coaching is watching the freshman grow from deer in headlights to seniors ready to take on the world. So, I set out to find the right student-athletes that not only will represent Montevallo in the pool but in the classroom and community.
What are your goals for this first season of #MontevalloSwim?
First thing I told every recruit is that for me, family comes first. I want to create a team that is an extension of our families. If you follow us on social media, you will hear a lot about joining our Falcon Swim Family. That is our top priority this coming year to establishing that family. It is going to be a challenge bringing in 34 young adults who have never met each other to create something new, but they have already started to get to know one and another. After that, we will be focusing on getting the job done in the classroom and starting college on the right foot. As far as swimming, the athletes are ready to get to work and are looking to come out of the gates swinging for the fences. A big goal would be to have everyone achieve a best time on our way to making our mark on the New South Intercollegiate Swim Conference.
What do you want fans to know about the program?
For the fans, it is an exciting time here at Montevallo as the athletic department, University and town continue to grow and expand with the addition of a new swim team. They are always welcome at our meets and can watch us online or follow us on social media @MontevalloSwim. Go Falcons!
What has competitive swimming given to you over the years?
How many pages do I have? As a swimmer it taught me how to use inviolable skills such as goal setting, time management, discipline, belief in myself and more. In college being a part of a team provided me a family away from home. Beyond that I have been fortunate enough to have traveled the country and the world meeting a wide range of incredible people whom I call friends because of swimming.
What advice do you give to your student-athletes?
With a positive attitude, willingness to learn with an open mind and hard work, there is nothing you cannot achieve. And remember to enjoy the moment and have fun.
What parts of Montevallo stood out to you when you first visited the city and campus?
During the drive from the airport passing the old farms reminded me of my grandfather’s farm growing up. Once in Montevallo it gave me a small-town America feel with southern charm. I’m sure that made me sound like a yankee, but it is true. When arriving at the university I was surprised to find such a beautiful campus hidden away and like most, once you see campus you fall in love with the old brick buildings and streets with the full tree canopy.
What do you love about Shelby County?
Admittedly, outside of Montevallo I still have a lot to explore. Whether it’s going to a dinner party at the Fox and Pheasant B&B, spending time in Oak Mountain, I look forward to learning more about my new home and enjoying all that Shelby County has to offer.