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coaches-01

Top: Iain Braddak (left) and Meredith Schamun; middle: Nicole Van Dyke (left) and Casey Brown; bottom: John Ceralde (left) and Kirsten Becker

Credit: Chase Sutton , Son Nguyen, Kaitlin Rowan, Alana Kelly

Outside of all the craziness of 2020, a trio of Penn teams also went through coaching changes over the year. Here's a recap of which coaches left the Red and Blue and who came in to replace them.

Gymnastics

Jan. 31 - Penn Athletics has announced that volleyball coach Iain Braddak has resigned from his post after two seasons on the job. Braddak oversaw a turbulent tenure as coach of the program since his controversial hiring in April 2018 as the team's third head coach in as many years.

After Braddak’s first season in 2018, players complained of emotional manipulation and mistreatment that led to an unhealthy team environment. Three athletes quit the team during that season and eight filed formal grievances against Braddak. While several players questioned Penn Athletics’ handling of the grievance process, by the following season, the team simply wanted to put the controversy behind them and get back to playing volleyball.

Year two of Braddak’s tenure got off to a much better start. The Quakers ran through their non-conference schedule with a record of 7-2 – already more wins than 2018’s program-worst total of six. The team didn’t fare as well in the Ivy League portion of the season but still held a winning record entering the final two-game weekend. Those two games never were played after the season was suspended following the discovery of "vulgar, offensive, and disrespectful" posters were found in the team's locker room. 

Braddak's final record of 17-29 (7-19 Ivy) is the worst coaching record in program history, and he is the only coach to finish their tenure with a losing record.

Mar. 20 - On Friday, Penn Athletics announced that Meredith Schamun will be the new head coach for Penn volleyball, the fourth person to take the job in the past five seasons.

Schamun is already comfortable in Philadelphia after spending the past two seasons as assistant coach and recruiting coordinator for Villanova. During her tenure, she helped lead the Wildcats to a 39-23 record and a pair of Big East Tournament appearances. Schamun was responsible for coaching an offense that finished second in the conference in hitting percentage.

“Her recruiting connections around the country, especially in her native Southern California, will serve the program well,” Penn Athletics Director M. Grace Calhoun wrote in a statement. “I look forward to watching Penn volleyball compete for Ivy League championships in the near future."

Women's soccer

Jan. 4 - Penn women's soccer coach Nicole Van Dyke resigned from her position after five seasons with the team to take on the same position at the University of Washington. 

In her tenure at the helm of the Quakers, Van Dyke compiled a 41-24-15 overall record. The highlight of her tenure was in 2018, when she led the team to a share of the Ivy League championship, ending the season with a 13-2-1 record. The team's 13 wins were the second most in program history. The 2018 team gave up only five goals, the lowest in program history. 

A native of California and a former coach at Stanford, Van Dyke will hope to carry over her Ivy League success in her return to the Pac-12.

Mar. 23 - In its second coaching addition within a week, Penn Athletics announced that Casey Brown will be the new head coach for Penn women’s soccer. Brown comes to Penn from Holy Cross, where she spent four seasons as head coach. Over the course of her time with the Crusaders, Brown became the coach with the second-highest number of Patriot League wins in program history.

In 2019, Brown led the Crusaders to their best season since 2000. They posted five wins overall and went 3-1-5 in the Patriot League, the program’s best conference record in the last 20 seasons. At the end of the 2019 season, Brown’s team saw five of its players named to the All-Patriot League — again, the most since 2000. 

Gymnastics

Mar. 20 - After 19 years on Penn gymnastics' coaching staff and 14 years as the head coach, John Ceralde has parted ways with the Red and Blue. Ceralde joined the Penn coaching staff as an assistant to Tom Kovic in 2002, and took over as head coach just four seasons later.

Over his coaching career with the Quakers, Ceralde led Penn to a pair of Eastern College Athletic Conference titles in 2012 and 2013. Seven of his gymnasts were ECAC champions, and nine went on to compete individually at the NCAA Championships.

Ceralde left the team on a high note, having earned his fifth Ivy Classic title — and first since 2015 — in February. In March 2019 in a meet at Maryland, his team's score of 195.075 broke a 15-year-old record for best in program history.

May 21 - Kirsten Becker will take over the job of head coach for Penn gymnastics this season, Athletics Director M. Grace Calhoun announced. Becker has been an assistant coach for the team since August 2015, and she also competed for the Red and Blue as an undergraduate, graduating from the College of Arts and Sciences as a communications major in 2013. 

As a gymnast, Becker had an impressive career at Penn. A two-time captain, she led the Quakers to back-to-back Ivy Classic championships, was twice named Penn’s Most Valuable Gymnast, and was named ECAC Gymnast of the Year. She was also named Penn’s Most Inspirational Gymnast, and was the University’s nominee for the NCAA Woman of the Year Award.

Becker is married to Ryan Becker, who is an assistant coach for Penn football, and was formerly a quarterback for the team.

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