New Year, New Coaches

Alex A. Kennedy

Millikin athletics has had a wild summer. For those out of the loop, there are at least four new coaches coming to Millikin this season. Two out of four of the coaches are here as replacements for those who left over the summer. 

Coach Melanie Heslop from Millikin’s track and field team and assistant coach Nick Wyllie of the swimming and triathlon teams have moved on with copious support from their athletes. 

But Millikin continues to move forward. One of the new coaches to come to Millikin is Ksenia Safonova, taking over as the throwing coach for Millikin’s track and field team. 

Coach Safonova is a graduate from Towson University with a bachelor’s degree in psychology. She graduated in December of 2018. Safonova came to Millikin to continue her studies while coaching the throwing team. She is pursuing an MBA (Master’s of Business), and she plans to combine her two degrees into a career and continue coaching in the future. 

While getting acquainted with Millikin and the university’s atmosphere, Coach Safonova commented on the architecture of the new buildings and how it matches the obvious influence of the older designs, saying it gives the campus “personality.” 

The coach has taken a liking to Millikin, saying, “It has character.” 

“[It] is easier to fit in at Millikin, and everyone is so willing to help,” she said.  

 Millikin students have built a reputation for being nice and welcoming. Hopefully, they will continue to keep said reputation as the years continue.

As students come back for their various studies and get back into the swing and bustle of college life, Safonova says her door is open to everyone, regardless of if they are an athlete or not. She is very open and enthusiastic about all sports at Millikin, mainly track and field. But Safonova is also excited to talk and learn about the culture at Millikin and the United States. 

Coach Safonova came to America from Europe. She is willing to learn more about any culture that walks through her door. If any student wants to talk with Coach Safonova, her office is on the second floor of the athletic building, and she works until 5:00 PM when the campus closes. When she is not in her office, she might either be coaching, helping other coaches, or in class. 

Coach Safonova has goals for this year’s track and field team. Setting her sights high, she believes that this year for the team can be one of the best so far. After meeting the team for the first time at a meeting held to introduce student athletes to the new coach, she said the team appeared to be “energetic and excited.”

The group interrogated her during the set-up to learn as much as possible, asking questions like: “What is your favorite food?,” “When is your birthday?,” and of course, “What are you plans for the season?”

Coach Safonova has several ideas and goals for the upcoming track season, one of which is to improve the freshman class from high school participants to collegiate level athletes. This will only grow in power as the level of intensity and training increases throughout the classes. 

Another goal for Coach Safonova is to have athletes make it into the Conference Top 10, gaining as many high points as possible along the way. 

A final goal for the coach is to ultimately win championships, bringing home another title to add to the Millikin name. 

The optimism that Safonova has is contagious, and she has others thinking big for the upcoming seasons.