Over Christmas break, the William Penn University Athletics Department announced a new head coach for the Women’s Soccer program. To the surprise of many of the athletes in both the men and women’s programs, along with much of the student body, Jaymee Highcock, the men’s coach for the previous two years, was delegated the position.
When the previous head coach resigned, Highcock saw this as an opportunity to strengthen the women’s program and the university as a whole. “I expressed my interest in taking the job. Ultimately, I want to make the school successful and this is another opportunity to do so,” said Highcock.
Initial response regarding this revelation was a widespread displeasure. Mariah Voight, a soon to be senior for the women’s squad stated the following, “Nobody even mentioned to us that we would be sharing a coach. That wasn’t even an option in our heads.”
Similarly, Francis Lee, captain of the women’s team, was initially upset with the decision. “It wasn’t the ideal situation, I feel that they [Athletic Department] should have went out and found a coach that could focus on just us, instead of two teams,” Lee said. Lee was very distressed when the decision was announced.
Although various athletes were skeptical about the decision, Highcock offered an ample amount of reassurance regarding this heated issue; “There are good times ahead. This is a time for everybody involved in the program to become better. I feel that the women need some guidance, there are some very good players on the team.”
Unknown to many, Highcock has experience with this type of coaching format. During his time spent as a graduate assistant at Avila University, Highcock experienced the coaching strategy that he will soon implement at William Penn University. “We are hiring a full time assistant to split between both programs. The programs will get the luxury of two high level coaches. We have great graduate assistants here already and we are looking for graduate assistants for the women’s side as well.”
Highcock is extremely adamant to build a coaching staff that will bring success to both programs. “Hiring staff is very important, if you can get a good staff underneath and around you, everything else becomes easier,” stated Highcock.
Despite the fact that there is a lot of criticism regarding this situation, Yordan Rivera, currently a senior on the Men’s Soccer team has high hopes for Highcock along with both programs. “I think that this is a great opportunity for Highcock to test himself. It is a good opportunity for him to grow as a coach and test his philosophies.”
Over the last two years at William Penn University, Highcock has propelled the men’s program to a higher standard of success. Rivera has learned to see Highcock not only as a coach, but also as a professor. In the fall of 2016, Rivera took a course called Sports Psychology with Highcock as the instructor. “What he has to share about the mental part of the game will bring a lot to the women’s program,” said Rivera
On January 17, a meeting was called to order by Highcock and the Athletic Director Greg Hafner regarding the women’s team. According to Voight, “the meeting changed a lot of girls’ minds. It definitely changed my mind.” Voight felt reassured with the amount of positives that the team walked away with after the meeting. “The meeting has made girls really confident with sharing a coach because of his attitude and what he has planned for the next year.” Voight stated that the meeting allowed several different women to think twice about leaving William Penn University. “The meeting made people want to stay, including myself.” Highcock also spoke to many women individually regarding the issue of transferring because of the decision. “I have had several of them come to me speaking of leaving and after speaking with them they want to stay,” explained Highcock
Emannuel Esparza, a junior on the men’s squad, is eager for the upcoming season, “I am excited because it is something new for both programs. Jaymee and his coaching staff know what that they are getting into and I know he is going to do great.” Adriana Borjón, a senior for the women’s program also believes that Highcock will bring success to the their program. While in community college, Borjón experienced the same situation, “I went through this same stage my last year of community college and it worked well, so I believe that it will work well here as well.”
A major skill that will help alleviate the transition for Highcock and his coaching staff is organization. “I worked under a coach as a graduate assistant, it takes a lot of organization, along with patience with all parties,” says Highcock. Through the various means of communication, along with time, a majority of the girls on the women program, along with the men’s side, have had a change of heart regarding the situation. “Jaymee has given me a lot of confidence. He’s positive, he’s confident in himself, and he’s confident in his techniques”, says Voight. “He already has that experience [of taking two teams]. I think Highcock is definitely going to prove himself as a coach and he seems excited.”
Along with Voight, Lee also believes that Highcock will amplify the rate of success for the women’s team. “If anybody can do it I believe that Highcock has the ability to do it.”
Over the course of the past two seasons, Highcock has made the men’s program a contender in the Heart of America Conference. The numerous victories over ranked opposition has proved Highcock, along with his philosophies, to reign in success. Voight has realized this and believes that success will flow over to the women’s squad as well. “With the years to come I can only see these programs, both men and women, getting better.”
Watch the interview with Coach Jaymee Highcock by the William Penn Media Club