Running coach wins award

Janie Boschma

Dan Schwamberger is having a successful first year as head coach for the UW-Eau Claire cross country teams. The women’s team won the WIAC Championship for the first time since 1985 and Schwamberger was named the Coach of the Year.

Schwamberger took over for former head coach Brian Falk this year after three seasons as assistant coach at UW-Platteville.

“There are a lot of things that are similar to Platteville,” Schwamberger said. “I’m friends with the coach (at Platteville) and I learned a lot from him.”

Schwamberger said before the first practice of the season he had spoken to some of the members of the team, but didn’t really know anyone.

“It was pretty crazy learning 50 new faces,” he said. “But its been exciting and I’ve had a lot of fun with it.”

Schwamberger said he didn’t make too many changes to the existing program at Eau Claire.

“Obviously every coach has a different philosophy,” he said. “I think the biggest thing is now we keep track of our running volume in minutes, not mileage.”

Members of the women’s cross country team said that working with Schwamberger was a pleasure.

“It was a joy to work with him,” senior Amber Hertz said. “He always tries to listen to us so he knew what to do to make us go faster.”

Hertz added Schwamberger always kept bigger goals in mind, such as regionals and nationals.

“He’s definitely a bigger-picture thinker,” she said.

Senior Megan Bell echoed some of Hertz’s comments.

“He was wonderful,” she said. “With cross country he had some big shoes to fill and there were so many applicants and he beat them out. He’s a great coach.”

After the women took first place at the conference on Oct. 27, Schwamberger received the Coach of the Year nod.

“He certainly deserves it,” Hertz said. “He really helps the athletes get a better appreciation for (the sport) and makes it a positive part of their life.”

Schwamberger said he’s pleased he won the award but most of the credit goes to the team.

“It’s a huge honor for me, but it’s definitely a team award,” he said. “It’s a result of them. They really did their homework over the summer. They trained very smartly and put in a lot of good mileage. It was neat to be recognized but it’s definitely their award.”

The team will head to Oshkosh on Saturday for the NCAA regionals. Schwamberger said the team is ready for the challenge.

“We know the course, we’re comfortable with it,” he said. “If we can run the way we did at conference and prepare that way, we should have a great shot at going to nationals.”