As former collegiate coaches and education professionals, we thoroughly understand the recruiting process. We know how colleges recruit, when they recruit, where they recruit and whom they recruit. College coaches know they can trust us to verify all athletic and academic information that we provide for them as well as know that our concern regarding our athletes is more than playing athletics. It is imperative to our directors, that our ACC athletes do well in school, play hard, remained disciplined and graduate with college degrees. We specialize in getting your daughter/son’s information in front of many coaches and getting them to take a serious look at it.
The ACC Team
RICK PAINE - PRESIDENT
Rick is the co-founder and president of American College Connection and also holds the title of Director of Swimming. He has coached club swimming for 28 years and has served as an Associate Head Coach and Recruiting Coordinator for 17 years at a major Division I university. During his tenure there, Rick personally coached 9 Olympians, 37 NCAA All-Americans, and National Champions in 11 different countries (including the United States). He had the honor of serving as one of the Olympic Head Coaches for the Austrian Olympic Team in 2000, and also served on the staffs at the Helsinki and Istanbul European Championships. Most recently, Rick was formally inducted into the Midwestern Swimming LSC Hall of Fame (2015).
DONNY BRUSH - ASSISTANT DIRECTOR/NCAA Rules Specialist
Donny Brush is a professional swimming coach with over 20 years of diversified collegiate, age group, and high school coaching experience. He is energetic and a motivational leader, with a proven record of program development and designing strategies and techniques that accelerate individual achievement. As a Terre Haute native, Donny graduated with a bachelor's degree in physical education from Indiana State in 2001 and also received his master's in athlete development from Indiana State. Donny is coming to us after nine successful years at Indiana University as Associate Head Coach for men's and women's swimming and coordinator of off campus recruiting. Donny has helped recruit over 100 NCAA All Americans, 11 Olympians, 12 American Record Holders, 28 World Record Holders.
LORI PAYNE - ASSISTANT DIRECTOR OF SWIMMING
Lori is a true water baby, having grown up under the sun of S Florida, and the umbrella of Jack Nelson. Recruited in high school as a distance swimmer, she swam at UNC-Chapel Hill: took the 'mandatory time off after college' and reinvented herself as a USMS master swimmer. She has been a part of masters since 1991 and has been a long time member of the development/growth committee, and the assisting with the operational end of national meets. With a degree in sports management, and thirty years of coaching experience, (most recently developing a new D II team) Lori knows just what makes the student athlete recruiting process successful.Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
MELYNDA NASH - ACADEMIC ADVISOR/COORDINATOR FOR RECRUITING EDUCATION
Having been an educator and student outreach advisor for over 20 years, Melynda brings a wealth of knowledge to our team which helps our student-athletes understand the academic side of recruiting. Her extensive knowledge of navigating the education system at all academic levels, and passion for helping students reach their highest potential and be successful greatly enhances ACC's ongoing commitment to helping student-athletes find the best all-around fit for college. Melynda is a veteran of the United States Navy.Email: email@example.com
TODD WALKENHORST - ATHLETE DEVELOPMENT DIRECTOR
Todd oversees the ACC athlete development process and brings over 20 years in professional and college sports. He has worked in operations and technology with the Seattle Seahawks and the Kansas City Chiefs of the National Football League, the University of Nebraska volleyball program, and with many other organizations including, Assistant General Manager with the Omaha Nighthawks of the United Football League and currently General Manager of the Omaha Beef Professional Indoor football team.Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Penny Heyns - Motivational Speaker / Mentor
As an international swimmer, Penny Heyns established herself as the world’s greatest female breaststroker of the 20th century by becoming the only woman in Olympic history to win both the 100 and 200 meter breaststroke events and by breaking 14 individual world records during her career. Penny is now a motivational speaker / mentor and teams with ACC to connect international swimmers with the US for a chance to study and compete in America. @penheyns
Gary Cox - Director of Diving
Gary Cox started his coaching career in 1985 as the assistant diving coach at his alma mater University of Nebraska –Lincoln. He also was the head age group coach for Nebraska Aquatics as well as High School coach. Gary began his YMCA career June of 1989 with the Walter Schroeder Aquatic Center in Brown Deer Wisconsin as Head Diving Coach. While at the YMCA, in addition to serving as the Schroeder Diving Coach he also served as Competitive Aquatic Director, Program Operations Director, and the Membership Service Director. He is fiercely competitive, honest to a fault, giving, caring, a wonderful father and husband but throughout his career, his hallmark trait has been his humility.
Gary has long been a well-known figure in the diving community- YMCA, USA Diving and NCAA Diving. Gary was the Head Diving Coach for the University of Wisconsin at Milwaukee from 1989-2001 where he was multiple times Coach of the Year. Along the way Gary has coached numerous YMCA National Champions, multiple USA Diving qualifiers and finalist, 2001 USA Diving Junior National Champion(his son). He also served as the 2001 USA Diving National Team Coach for the Junior Pan-American team. In 1993 Gary was the recipient of the Moose Moss Diving Award for contributions to YMCA Diving. In 2016 Gary was the recipient the prestigious Joseph E Rodgers award presented for outstanding contributions to the YMCA Swimming and Diving movement.
Gary served on the USA Diving Board of Directors and the YMCA Swimming and Diving Operations Council from 2008-2018. He and his wife Kristin have two sons, Danny and Nate, both past YMCA national champions and both attended Purdue University with both achieving All-America status.
ED LOWER-ASSISTANT DIRECTOR OF SWIMMING
Ed has been coaching full-time since 1987. He started as a volunteer coach at the University of Iowa, where he was a three-year All-American and team captain his senior year. After graduation, he went home to the Maryland area to coach with Nations Capital (Curl-Burke) as an age group coach and Head coach at Georgetown Prep HS that went undefeated. Ed was fortunate to work daily with coach Jozsef Nagy and a group of multiple Olympians. He took that knowledge to the U of Nebraska, as a graduate assistant, where he met and coached with ACC founder Rick Paine. After grad school, Ed took a Head coaching job in SD at Siouxland Sharks taking them from 40th in the LSC to 4th in just one season. He moved to Texas as an assistant at Space City Aquatic Team and then as Head Coach at Galveston Island and Ball H.S. In 1999 he moved to Raleigh NC to be the head coach at Tarheel Aqua Racers. Over the next twenty years in Raleigh, he coached 100+ National top ten, including 5 #1 swims. He had many Junior National qualifiers and won the 2004 NCSA Juniors team titles as well as the National co-coach of the year award. He coached several swimmers to Nationals, National Junior team, and Olympic Trials.
Ed has been on ALL sides of the recruiting process through his coaching career and parent to two swimmers. He now would like to help swimmers achieve their goals of swimming and studying at a great college or university by guiding families through the process.