Courtesy Williams Sports Information
WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass. — Williams College athletic director Harry Sheehy announced on Thursday that Marissa O’Neil, formerly an assistant coach for national champion Amherst College, has been named the head coach of the women’s ice hockey program. O’Neil replaces Shannon Bryant, who resigned. Bryant spent three years at Williams and compiled a record of 21-46-7.
“Marissa brings a wonderful playing and coaching background to Williams,” Sheehy said. “The committee was very impressed with her potential and passion — we all believe the women’s hockey program is in capable hands moving forward.”
O’Neil graduated from Bowdoin College in 2005 and spent the last two years as an assistant ice hockey and field hockey coach at Amherst. Over the past two seasons, the Lord Jeff ice hockey team finished 44-9-4, won one NESCAC title (2008) and one NCAA Championship (2009).
“I feel very fortunate to be working at Williams, this college has a rich tradition of academic and athletic excellence and as a first-year head coach this opportunity is incredibly humbling,” O’Neil said. “My experiences at Bowdoin and Amherst have been invaluable in my development as a person and coach. These institutions have instilled in me the necessary skill set to be successful in this career and for that I am extremely grateful.”
O’Neil was a two-sport standout at Bowdoin. In 2005, she received the Dana Shulman Award, given to Bowdoin’s most outstanding female athlete. In field hockey, she was the NESCAC Rookie of the Year in 2001, the NESCAC Player of the Year in 2003, a three-time First Team All-NESCAC selection and a First Team All-American.
Following her graduation, O’Neil spent one year as an assistant ice and field hockey coach at Saint Anselm’s College. Her following year was spent as an assistant athletic director at Middlesex School.
It was then she was reunited with Jim Plumer, who was an assistant coach at Bowdoin for two of O’Neil’s four years at that institution. Now the head coach at Amherst, Plumer asked O’Neil to join his staff in 2007.
Some of O’Neil’s duties at Amherst included player performance, recruitment, evaluation of potential student-athletes, video analysis, travel accommodations, fundraising efforts and budget development.
With six years experience in the NESCAC, O’Neil feels she has a grasp on what the student-athlete experience at Williams demands.
“Williams' student-athletes know how to compete and work hard to achieve their goals both in the classroom and on the ice; I feel honored to coach the dedicated players in the women’s hockey program,” O’Neil said. “By promoting a culture of hard work, confidence and fun, it is my aim for the program to once again be a front-runner in the conference and challenge our nationally ranked opponents.”
O’Neil is currently working towards a master’s degree in sports management at UMass-Amherst. She was earned a bacherlor’s degree in sociology from Bowdoin with a minor in education.