First-year Michigan coaches make their mark
Michigan's three new head coaches---Chaka Daley (men's soccer), Kim Barnes Arico (women's basketball) and Coach Erik Bakich (baseball)---all agree that "athletics at Michigan" is significantly different than athletics at their previous schools.
All three say that other Michigan coaches have welcomed them warmly and have been available to lend a hand or help out, while competing at the highest level. The community of Ann Arbor has also quickly become "home" for them and their families. And each has accepted the challenge of winning Big Ten and NCAA championships. They credit Michigan's resources as the deciding factor in their decisions to leave their previous jobs.
Chaka Daley came to Michigan in January 2012 after 20 years at Providence College as a player, assistant coach and head coach. After graduating, he played in the MLS with the New England Revolution while gaining valuable coaching experience at his alma mater. As Providence's head coach, Chaka built a successful program through recruiting, creating and shaping team culture, and hard work.
The available Michigan job certainly caught his attention, but it was his visit when he saw the facilities---including the new soccer stadium---and experienced the supportive U-M athletics community that won him over. Although Michigan had won only five games the previous year, Daley stayed positive and recruited aggressively, attracting three international players and a transfer who made an immediate impact on the program. During the fall 2012 season, the team bought into his culture that stressed persistence, positive mental attitude and excellence and more than doubled its number of wins of the previous year with 11, played in the final of the Big Ten tournament and made it to the NCAA tournament round of 32.
Kim Barnes Arico is no stranger to the NCAA tournament, either. She left a successful tenure at St. John's in the Big East, where she was 2012 Coach of the Year, to take the Michigan job. Her "great group of five senior leaders" led the team to the best start and finish in program history. She credits the character of her players for "an incredible year of 22 wins."
Coach Barnes Arico understands recruiting is the lifeblood of her program. She refers to the Michigan advantage in being able to attract some of the leaders and best women's basketball players. Once they're at Michigan, her player development program makes sure she and her staff help improve the players in every way. She's confident that Michigan can compete and win consistently in the Big Ten.
Coach Barnes Arico also has three young "assistant coaches", son Trevor (11 years old) and daughters Emma (7) and Cecilia (4). "The team has embraced my kids, and I'm really happy about that because they bleed blue." She adds, "I'm fortunate that the university is supportive of me as both a mother and a coach."
Erik Bakich's wife Jiffy was so sure he should accept the Michigan, she agreed to move to Ann Arbor when she was eight months pregnant. Coach Bakich left a Maryland program that was on the upswing after three seasons under his stewardship. His gratitude for all that Michigan can provide for him, his staff, and his athletes is obvious. As a coach, he believes it's his job to provide a perspective of appreciation over entitlement, and humility over arrogance.
The 2013 team, "Team 147," has bought into his philosophy of team bonding, leadership and the expectation of a winning a championship. The seniors have been especially vital to helping the younger players compete at the Division I level. He thoroughly believes in his ability to "write new chapters in Michigan baseball history" and to restore the program greatness by competing for Big Ten and NCAA championships. Asks Coach Bakich, "Who wouldn't want to be at Michigan?"