WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass. — Williams College women's soccer head coach Michelyne Pinard announced today she will be leaving Williamstown after 18 seasons — and at least three national championships — following the 2019-2020 academic year.
Pinard will become the athletic director at The Thacher School, a private boarding school in Ojai, Calif.
The Ephs are the two-time defending national champions and have won three of the past four national titles in Div. III. Over 17 seasons to date, Pinard has compiled an overall record of 257-46-34, an .813 winning percentage, the fifth best active percentage in Div. III. Pinard replaced current Williams athletic director Lisa Melendy as head coach in 2002.
"When I was considering the next challenge, the natural place to look were other coaching positions, potentially Division I coaching positions, but I was just never truly interested in pursuing a coaching position beyond the one I had because I have always felt like I have the best collegiate coaching job in the country," PInard said. "I have learned so much in my 22 years of coaching, grown both professionally and personally, and I feel I am ready to broaden out and ideally have my work impact more students."
Melendy said a nationwide search for Pinard's replacement will begin after the 2019 season concludes.
"It is always difficult to bid farewell to a colleague, but I am happy that Williams was a place that allowed Michelyne to shine and that gave her a platform from which she could pursue other professional goals," Melendy said. "As the former women's soccer coach, I could not have imagined a better path for the team than the good fortune of having Michelyne as their coach.
"She has set a high standard of excellence and created a fellowship of women soccer players at Williams who will remember their time here fondly. She proved it is possible in college athletics to reach the highest levels of achievement on the field while still maintaining the highest level of commitment to intellectual and academic pursuits. She allowed her athletes to be students first while achieving national prominence as athletes and as a team. I am hopeful others can learn from the example she set about what is possible in intercollegiate athletics when the students are put at the center of the enterprise and they are committed to pursuing excellence in all areas of their lives.That is the promise of college athletics and Michelyne delivered on that promise.
"Hers will be big shoes to fill, but I know Williams will be able to attract an outstanding pool of candidates. I wish Michelyne and her family the best of everything as this new chapter in their lives begins."
Over her 17 years to date, Pinard's Ephs have won eight conference (NESCAC) championships, while reaching the final of the conference tournament 13 times and compiling an overall tournament record of 30-8-8. Williams has qualified for 12 consecutive NCAA Tournament appearances and 13 overall during Pinard's tenure. The Ephs have reached the Sweet 16 round of the NCAA Tournament six consecutive seasons, one of only two women's soccer programs to have an active streak that lengthy. Williams has advanced to the quarterfinals eight times in Pinard's 17 years and the national semifinals five times (2008, 2014, 2015, 2017, 2018).
Williams first appeared in a national championship game in 2014 and captured its first national championship in 2015 with a 1-0 victory over Washington University-St. Louis. In 2017, the Ephs defeated the University of Chicago for a second national title and in 2018, made it three national championships — and back-to-back titles — with a penalty kick victory over conference rival Middlebury last fall.
"I am really proud of what the women, assistant coaches and I have been able to create," Pinard stated. "When I consider how much energy, effort and selflessness it has taken for every member of every team over the last 17 years to create what we have created, it takes my breath away. I am proud that our core values, as a program, have led us to where we are with regard to our championships, but more so that the experience has provided a platform for young women to learn how to create and ultimately lead a positive, inspiring, and inclusive organization in a confident and empowered way. That, ultimately, is what I'm most proud of."
Over her first 17 seasons, Pinard has had 18 All-Americans. In 2017, Danielle Sim was named the Div. III USC National Player of the Year. In 5 of the last 12 years, Pinard has had a player named the conference player of the year (Sim, 2017; Kristi Kirshe, 2016; Sara Wild, 2010; Brianna Wolfson, 2009 and Gabrielle Woodson, 2007.). In 2015, Mai Mitsuyama was named the Div. III Midfielder of the Year and in 2014, Lilly Wellenbach was selected as the Div. III Defender of the Year.
"I believe in the transformational power of sport for both individuals and a community," Pinard said. "Coaching soccer at Williams has been a wonderful vehicle for me to empower young women to pursue their potential and be game changers wherever they go in the world upon graduation. I'm very proud of that."
The Thacher School is a selective, co-educational, independent boarding school which opened in 1889 and is California's oldest co-ed boarding school with an enrollment in the mid 200s. The Toads have 14 varsity sports teams, 11 junior varsity sports teams, one freshmen boys team and one girls third team. Pinard noted how close in values Thacher is with Williams.
"The Thacher community resembles the Williams community in so many ways," she said. "It is smaller, warmer weather (thank goodness!) and is focused on creating community with younger students, but Williams and Thacher share so many of the values that I hold dear. The environment couldn't be better for my family. Much like Williamstown, it is a place that I believe my children will be able to thrive and be a part of a healthy vibrant learning community in a meaningful way."