Coaches and Directors

Coaches and Directors
Coaching Staff
Emily Paradis Head Coach

I grew up in Freeport Illinois and always knew I wanted to be a swimmer. After watching my 3 older sisters and HS coach father involved in swimming, it was inevitable. After having success as an age-group and HS swimmer and falling in love with the sport for so many reasons, I went on to swim for UW-Madison. During my time with the Badgers I was All-Big Ten Selection, NCAA All-American, Big Ten champion, school record holder, and team captain. I was also an Olympic Trials qualifier in both breaststroke and IM events in 2000 and 2004.

I decided to get back into swimming, this time as a coach, after the birth of my oldest daughter in 2007. I felt this was an amazing opportunity to give back to the sport that was such a huge part of my life. I started coaching for DeForest Aquatic Club as an assistant coach, working with all ages from 2007-2012. Our Family moved to New Glarus in 2012, and I took over the Head coaching job at the Green County YMCA. I was the head coach for GCY from 2012-2020. While with GCY I was voted age-group coach of the year in 2015. I was able to grow so much as a coach in my time at the YMCA. I enjoyed developing the program into a team that not only fostered the growth of beginner swimmers, but also placed in the top ten at both USA and YMCA State meets.

In my years of coaching I have worked with swimmers of all ages and abilities—from teaching beginner swimmers all 4 strokes to state champions and National qualifiers-- I love it all! I believe that swimming is truly a unique sport and you can get so much from every aspect of it. Coaching to me is about building lasting memories and relationships for swimmers, while helping each individual to reach their full potential. To me, watching a swimmer learn to love the sport as much as I do, is the biggest reward!

On a personal note, I am a mother of 4 children (3 daughters and 1 son). My husband Todd is an elementary principal, and we have 2 giant fluffy cats! My girls are involved in swimming, soccer and basketball and keep us very busy! When we get the chance, we love spending any of our extra time in Door County on Lake Michigan!

Maddy Nelson

I grew up in Madison, so like any child who loves water, I joined the All City League and have been a swimmer ever since.  I swam at Ridgewood Pool for 12 years (go Green Buns!) as well as attending Verona Area High School where I earned All-Conference recognition, and qualified for state finals in all 4 of my years. After graduating from Verona, I continued my education and swim career at the University of Wisconsin- Milwaukee. There I was named captain and swam on teams that earned 2 Horizon Conference Championship Runner Up finishes. 

I began coaching in high school for YMCA of Dane County where I coached 9-10 year olds. Following my coaching at YMCA, I was lucky enough to get the opportunity to coach for a team that I grew up swimming on, the Ridgewood Pool Green Buns. I have been coaching primarily 10 and unders there since 2017. It has been an amazing opportunity to give back to a place that I credit for building me as person and an athlete. In 2018, I accepted a position as an assistant swim coach for the Verona Area-Mount Horeb Girls Swim team. In 2019, I was offered the opportunity to also  coach the Verona Area-Mount Horeb Boys team! Growing up in the Madison/Verona community has driven me to want to give back to the places that made me the strong woman that I am.

More on my personal life, I graduated from UW-Milwaukee with a degree in Early Childhood Education, and am now a teacher in the Madison Metropolitan School District. I have two younger sisters Beata and Samantha. Beata is a University of Wisconsin-Madison graduate and has decided to join the ISL league to be a professional athlete. Samantha is currently attending Edgewood College to become a nurse, and lives with me and our two cats in Fitchburg.

Mekenzie Hammer

I’ve lived in New Glarus, Wisconsin just about my whole life. The reason I actually got into swimming was because I was dragged to my older sister’s swim meets in the summer. The days were extremely hot and while I grumpily watched my sister swim, I desperately wanted to jump into that inviting, cold water. So I asked my mom to sign me up to swim. I swam on a Rec team for one year then immediately hopped into the world of USA club swimming when I joined the Green County YMCA Swim team at 8 years old. That’s when Emily started to coach me and it’s been a crazy journey ever since.


I’ve been pretty successful throughout my swim career. I’ve won multiple USA state titles, a central zone title, and qualified for YMCA nationals. During my high school swim career I won the 100 back as a freshman and the 200 IM as a sophomore. I plan to go on to swim in college at University of Wisconsin- Eau Claire in 2021.

The titles I’ve won don’t compare to my biggest accomplishment: my mindset. Since I was a very successful swimmer when I was young, I held myself to impossibly high standards. I started to swim for other people, to please or impress them, instead of myself. I started to hate swimming. If it wasn't for Emily, my teammates, and my family encouraging me to focus on the fun aspect of swimming instead of the times, I would have quit. What matters in swimming is doing your best, knowing that’s all you can do, and the memories you make. That’s what I want the swimmers on VAST to take with them.

Michael Milinovich


Hey everyone! My name is Michael Milinovich but almost everyone calls me Milli. I am really excited to join the coaching staff at VAST and be able to work with everyone! My previous experience with the sport of swimming includes 16 years of competitive swimming with 4 of those years being here at UW-Madison. My coaching experience is not as long, however, I have learned a lot over the last 6 months being the head coach for the boys team at Edgewood High School, the assistant coach for the girls team, and also coaching for MAC in the fall last year. I can't wait to continue learning under Emily and help everyone achieve their goals!

Emma Neumann
Board of Directors
Aaron Osten President
Michelle Konarske Treasurer
Liz Slager Secretary
Nick Curran  
Ryan Geier  
Chad Kemp  
Sarah McClure  
Doug Sina