Coaches & Directors

Alligator Coaches

The Arlington Alligators are committed to providing our swimmers with exceptional coaching. In order to achieve this standard, our entire staff is ASCA certified. In addition to multiple years of coaching and swimming experience, they continually attend Swimming Technique and Coaching Clinics around the United States. 

Contact: Please direct all emails to Mary Ruffin for all Black and Xtreme Team questions and Sam Wilcher for any questions related to swimmers in Green, Silver, Gold and Blue.



Coaching Staff

Mary S Ruffin

Head Coach/CEO


Mary Ruffin is the Head Coach and CEO of the Alligators Aquatics. She is an ASCA Level 5 coach. She has been coaching for 36 years - 20 years with the Alligators! She has had the privilege of coaching multiple athletes to State, National and Olympic Trial level. The majority of the High School swimmers have continued their swimming career in college and return in the summers to train with the Alligators.

Mary has volunteered her time as part of many commitees and task forces on Illinois Swimming.  She is currently a member of USA Swimming Zone Board of Review, Senior Committee and the Performance Task force. She is also on the exec. board of ISCA.

  • Mary was a High School State Champion, All-American, and Olympic Trial Qualifier during her own swimming career. Her love of the sport that she developed while swimming, is carried with her now as a coach.
  • Strength of character, integrity and a strong work ethic, are some of the qualities she hopes to instill in all her swimmers.
  • Her love the sport is only surpassed by her love for her family. She has been Married to Stuart sr. for 28 years and is the extremely proud Mom of 4: Samantha, Stuart, Rebecca and Jeffrey.

Mary’s Favorites

Food: Chicken and Leg of Lamb
Pastime: Cooking, Kayaking and obviously Coaching!
Movie: Donovan’s Reef / Pretty Woman / Affair to Remember
Quote: "Walk the Walk, Don’t Talk the Talk" & "What I’m to be, I’m now becoming"

Sam R Wilcher

Head Age Group Coach


Sam is our Head Age Group Coach and is an Alligator through and through. He started swimming with Alligators in 2001. He has set many a team record as he worked his way to swimming at the 2008, 2012 and 2016 Olympic Trials. At Purdue University Sam still holds the team record for the 200 Fly. Sam's entire family has been a huge part of the Alligator family throughout all these years. Outside of the pool Sam and his wife Brittney enjoy outdoor activities of all kinds.


Tom Blumenfeld

Assistant Coach


Tom Blumenfeld swam as an age group swimmer from the age of 6 for Leaning Tower & High Ridge YMCA, as well as a USS Team in Skokie.  He swam on the Varsity team for 4 years in High School and was team captain his senior year.  He continued to swim in college as a long distance and butterfier at Northern Illinois University. Tom currently swims with the Alligator Aquatics master’s program and competes in local triathlons.

Tom also volunteers his time as our Treasurer. He is responsible for keeping the clubs financial records, and making sure the financial needs of the club are met. Swimming, coaching and volunteering his time for the Alligators comes alongside his being a CPA with Pawlan, Blumenfeld, Miscinski & Associates in Skokie  Tom has been a resident of Arlington Heights for 15 years with his wife Debbie and their 2 children Shannon and Leah!

Tom is starting his 5th year with the Alligators.

ASCA level 2

Tom's Favorites

FOOD: Steak (NY Strip, Rib-Eye or Filet or Skirt) sweet or white potatoes and "fresh" green beans.

Pastime: COACHING SWIMMING or triathlon and cooking breakfast foods.

Quote: "Tomorrow is promised to no one" Walter Payton       

Stacy L Cassiday

Assistant Coach


Stacy has been swimming all her life, her accomplishments are many. She is a  7 time Illinois State Champion (3 state records) 1981-1985 for Evanston Township High School.   3 time NCAA team champions at the University of Texas (highest individual place was 2nd in the 500 free).  14 time Collegiate All-American,  2 time Olympic Trial participant and  6 time National team member.

In between all her swimming accomplishments in the pool she also has an MA in Counseling Psychology and an MA in School Administration. She is currently working a Jr. High School Counselor for Dist. 15. 

Stacy lives in Arlington Hts., with her 2 boys: Ryan 17 and Alex 15 who both swim. 

In her down-time which is limited she still finds time to swim and spend as much time as she can with all her family members who live in the area.   

Jennifer Suyon Zapler

Assistant Coach



Jenny grew up swimming for B.R.Ryall and continued>

Tim J Umpleby

Assistant Coach


TIm started swimming in HS and grew to have a huge love of the sport. He was able to walk on to his college team (Asbury University), where he took his love of the sport to a a new level. His passion has grown ever since. His college coach believed in him and with just that belief, TIm realized he had a lot to do in the sport and was definitely driven to succeed at it.

Tim started coaching in 2007 where he found a perfect fit. As a coach, Tim has watched swimmers grow from novice to state and from insecure to confident!

Outside of the swimming arena, Tim loves the outside. Biking is a great way to get around! Tim is a student at the Art Institute Schaumburg, where he is following his second passion.

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Board of Directors

Mary S Ruffin



Dennis Verdico

Vice President


Tom Blumenfeld



Andy Topps



Mary Wilcher

Member at Large


Cathy Bauer



John A Andrew