Longwood honors three successful coaches

Published 6:44 pm Wednesday, April 28, 2021

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Longwood head coaches Todd Dyer, Jhonnatan Medina Alvarez and Rebecca Tillett have enjoyed sustained success leading their respective Lancer programs on the field and on the court. This spring, Longwood University honored each of them for their contributions to the campus community as a whole.

Dyer, Medina Alvarez and Tillett were each selected for prestigious Longwood University awards this month, all of which recognized individuals who embody specific values of the university and contribute to its overall mission of developing citizen leaders.

Dyer, who founded the Longwood women’s soccer program and has led the team for the past 27 seasons, was selected for The Nancy B. Shelton Spirited Contributor Award, which “recognizes a Longwood University alum currently serving as a faculty or staff member who exemplifies the university’s values of honesty, equality, civility and citizen leadership.”

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Medina Alvarez, in his fourth year at Longwood and second leading both the men’s and women’s tennis teams, received the SNVC Outstanding Citizen Leader Award from the Longwood College of Business and Economics (CBE). That award is presented by the CBE in partnership with SNVC to “a member of the CBE senior class who has demonstrated education, values and service, all ideals of a citizen leader.”

Medina Alvarez has also pursued his bachelor’s degree in business administration at Longwood during his tenure as head coach and will graduate this May. 

Tillett, who wrapped up a breakout third year leading Longwood women’s basketball this past March, was honored with The Faculty/Staff Citizen Leader Award by the Longwood Citizen Leader Awards Committee. That honor goes to “Longwood University faculty and staff members who exemplify what it means to be a citizen leader by employing his or her character, commitment to values and sense of civic responsibility to make a significant contribution on behalf of the Longwood University and surrounding community for the common good.”

Dyer, Medina Alvarez and Tillett have all guided their programs to numerous milestones and program firsts during their tenures at Longwood and produced some of the most decorated student-athletes in school history.

Since founding the Longwood women’s soccer program in 1994 – just one year after he graduated from Longwood – Dyer has built the Lancers into one of the premier teams in the Big South Conference and one of the highest-performing academic programs at the university. The program has amassed a 262-185-42 record under his watch, including a 49-25-15 mark in Big South play, while producing a wealth of conference, regional and national award winners. Among those are Academic All-American Kelsey McDonald, Big South Scholar-Athletes of the Year Carrie Reaver and Teresa Fruchterman, two-time Big South Defensive Player of the Year Sydney Wallace, and a wealth of multi-time all-conference and all-region selections. Dyer was also named Big South Coach of the Year in 2017, while the Lancers received the Big South Sportsmanship Award in 2019. 

Medina Alvarez took over as head coach of the Longwood men’s tennis program in the winter of 2017 and has since led the Lancers to three winning seasons and two consecutive double-digit win seasons, while also developing the best player in program history in three-time All-Big South first-team selection Amadeo Blasco. He was promoted to director of tennis in August of 2018 and has overseen both the Lancer men’s and women’s programs for the past three seasons. During his time as a coach, Medina Alvarez has also pursued his bachelor’s degree in business administration at Longwood as a full-time student and will graduate this May. That academic pursuit has fulfilled a lifelong dream for the Caracas, Venezuela, native, who deferred his college studies out of high school while pursuing a professional tennis career that spanned a decade and saw him compete at such prestigious venues as Wimbledon, the U.S. Open, the French Open and the Davis Cup. He was also named to the dean’s list this past fall.

Meanwhile, Tillett has engineered one of the most drastic turnarounds in all of college basketball since taking over the Lancer women’s program in March of 2018. This past season was the latest step in that process, as her Lancers set program records with 12 Big South wins and a third-place league finish while also earning a historic bid to the 2021 Women’s Basketball Invitational, which was the program’s first-ever invitation to a Division I postseason tournament. Longwood has also churned out some of the top players in the Big South during her tenure, including Big South Defensive Player of the Year Akila Smith, All-Big South first-team selection Kyla McMakin, and NCAA top-10 assists leader Tra’Dayja Smith. Tillett was also named Longwood Coach of the Year in 2019-20 by the Longwood University Student Athlete Advisory Committee.