(Posted May 9, 2001)

HUNTINGDON, Pa. -- Chris Villa has been named the head swimming coach at Juniata College, according to Director of Athletics Larry Bock. He will be responsible for all aspects of the women's swimming program on College Hill and he will remain the aquatics director as well, which includes overseeing all of the day-to-day operations with the Binder Natatorium, which is located in the Kennedy Sports+Recreation Center. Villa replaces Kathy Collins, who will be leaving Juniata in July of this year to pursue a doctoral degree in higher education administration at Bowling Green. Villa was an assistant under Collins this past winter, while Collins guided the blue and gold program for three seasons.

"I feel very fortunate to be able to replace Kathy (Collins) with someone the caliber of Chris (Villa)," said Bock. "He has proven to be an energetic and hard worker and I am looking forward to watching him excel in his new position. Chris is going to help us take our swimming program at Juniata to the next level and we are looking forward to climbing the ladder of success. Kathy turned things around for us and Chris will be very capable of keeping the ship headed in the right direction."

Villa came to Juniata from Hartwick College in Oneonta, N.Y. During the 1999-2000 school year, he worked as the assistant swimming and diving coach at Hartwick. He helped lead the Hawk men to a second-place finish at the New York state championship, while the women earned third-place honors at the same outing. Villa was responsible for honing the swimming skills of team members and he also worked on recruiting new talent for the Hartwick program. He was the assistant coach for the 1999-2000 New York State Women's Collegiate Athletic Association (NYSWCAA) Coach of the Year.

A 1999 graduate of Hartwick, he earned his bachelor's in psychology. He was a four-year member of the Hawk swimming and diving team and was the captain of the squad as a junior and senior. Villa helped lead Hartwick to an undefeated dual-meet record during his final campaign. The Hawks posted three third-place finishes and one runner-up spot at the New York State championship during his undergraduate tenure.

Villa has competed for numerous swimming programs and been instructed by several successful coaches over the past 16 years. He participated in the United States Swimming (USS) program.

This past winter, Villa helped the Eagles to their highest finish at the Middle Atlantic Conference (MAC) championship in the 13-year history of blue and gold swimming. In addition, he assisted freshman Kim Allen to all-American honors in the 200-yard breaststroke, marking the first-ever Juniata swimmer to earn national laurels. The blue and gold placed 4th in the 11-team field at the MAC championship hosted by Scranton in mid-February. The Eagles tallied a program-record 278 points as well. The previous bests for Juniata were sixth place (1994) and 247 points (1992 and 1994). The dramatic improvement over last year's fifth straight eighth place showing at the MAC meet.

Contact April Feagley at feaglea@juniata.edu or (814) 641-3131 for more information.