Assistant Coach Brad Yoder,
pictured here with the men’s cross
country team, has coached 51 National
qualifiers, 18 All-Americans and 34
Brian Cashdollar is head
track and field and cross
with dozens of conference
Coach of the Year accolades.
Softball Head Coach
Tracy Cromer talks with former
pinch hitter Mallory Sims ’14.
Cromer led the 2013 team to the
history books this spring with
Manchester’s first conference title
IT’S A SPARTAN TRADITION: Respect your teammates and the game, be
accountable, committed and focused. And have fun.
Manchester offers no full-ride athletic scholarships, no arenas full of 20,000
screaming fans, no highlights on Sportscenter. Here, “student” most certainly
comes first, before “athlete.”
And this is how we coach!
With more than a third of undergraduate students engaged
in athletics, sports help shape the identity of many MU
students. Coaching this wide range of student-athletes to
championships requires diversity of styles and personalities
– from cross country Head Coach Brian Cashdollar’s
visualization strategies to tennis Head Coach Eric
Christiansen’s personalized attention.
Rick Espeset, athletic director and 17-year head coach of
the baseball team employs a player-first coaching style that
motivates his team through its peaks and troughs.
Espeset’s mind for baseball developed in the Minnesota
summers, where at age 12, he and his dad watched 100
games a season together, including regional championships.
Espeset played college baseball and coached in Nebraska
before joining the Manchester coaching staff, then led by
Hall of Fame wrestling Coach Tom Jarman, who also was
the athletic director.
By watching games and other coaches in action, Espeset has
created a baseball legacy at Manchester. He influences any
young man who steps on his diamond or in his office.
“If you treat guys with respect, you create a winning
culture. If I can influence the older guys, they will influence the younger ones,” says Espeset, who coaches one of
the top-ranked teams in the nation. “I try never to put
the blame on a player.”
MU student-athletes like his style.
“Not only did Coach Espeset teach me the game, he
also taught me how to handle the ups and downs in
life,” says former All-American first-baseman
Matty Miller ’09. “The lessons he taught me on and
off the field are a big part of who I am today.”
Espeset’s love for Manchester and Division III
baseball is enduring: “Division III is what I know. We
can coach guys who truly want to be here,” he says.
“Accomplishment is still the same. Teams who win a
championship still celebrate in a dogpile, regardless of
This spring, D3baseball.com recognized the Spartan
team ethic by naming Rick Espeset its All-Mideast
Region Coach of the Year, and eight Spartans to
Dan Sprunger ’06, a member of the 2004 NCAA
World Series team, is among several MU coaches who
have made the transfer from making plays to calling
them for their alma mater. Today the crafty lefthander
is baseball associate head coach.
The transition from star student-athlete to the
coach’s box came with challenges. At first, Sprunger
was managing and coaching guys he had played
with as a Spartan. He knew that relationship had to
change, as well as his relationship with Espeset.
“The first year, I still felt a like a player even though
I was always treated as a coach. But as time wore
on, I gained a better understanding for why Coach
does what he does and the reasons behind it.”
Today, Sprunger is a hitting coach and persistent
recruiter for Spartan baseball.
“There’s plenty of nights when you go in to work
out and Coach Sprunger’s office light is still on
and he has the phone to his ear, trying to find the
next All-American,” says second baseman Trevor
Kimm ’15, an exercise science and fitness major
from Anderson, Ind. MU coaches spend half their
time recruiting high school players for their teams.(Division III schools cannot offer athletic
scholarships, ensuring they put the student first.)
Lana Lawver ’66 Groombridge, Manchester’s
women’s athletic director for 16 years and coach of
several women’s sports, set a professional standard
in service, scholarship and leadership. A professor
emerita of exercise and sport sciences,
Groombridge received the 2010 Legacy Award of
the Indiana Association of Health, Physical
Education, Recreation and Dance.
New to coaching is Corey Brueggeman ’12, a
two-time All-Conference soccer Spartan. Hired in
January to the MU coaching staff, the assistant
coach works with his former coach and mentor,
Dave Good. “My goal is to help the guys improve
on and off the field, and I hope we can return to
being one of the top teams in the conference,” says
Coach Good has a well-thought-out philosophy for
coaching: “Try to develop good chemistry through
respect, commitment, loyalty, accountability and
support. We want a team-first attitude, a family
Soccer should be fun, too, says Coach Good, his face
lighting up as he talks about his sport. Respect for
the game, sportsmanship and focus are all part of a
good game, he says.
International players add a unique dynamic to
Spartan soccer. Players from more than 29 countries
have taught the Hoosier players about diverse playing
styles and cultures – from France and Bulgaria to
Ghana and Ecuador.
“I think I’m a pretty simple guy and soccer is a simple and beautiful
game,” says Good. “We work hard, have fun, do our best and try to
improve. We value the efforts of each player and expect contributions
from each one.”
Softball Head Coach Tracy Cromer puts high stakes on the “whys”
as well as the “whats” and “hows” of women’s softball – from the
fundamentals to the development of a capable and ready bench. Trust
and teachable moments of life lessons also are part of her game plan.
“Great about being part of a team are the lessons and teachable
moments that come with it,” says Cromer, who joined Manchester
softball in 2008 after coaching at Northwestern College in St. Paul.
“I can share my life experiences with them, and can try to help them
through things they are going through or point to people who can
“It is important that they leave our program not just better ball
players, but better people.”
Her players appreciate the attention. “I was a transfer from Purdue
and Coach Cromer welcomed me to the team and was always there if
I needed any support,” says outfielder Kayla Yates ’13, an education
major from Delphi, Ind. “She is there for any of her players if they
need it. She shares the same emotions about the game as we do, and
we feed off of that.”
Manchester has several coaching legends. Steve Alford guided the
Spartans to three conference tournament championships and a
Division III NCAA championship game during his 1991-95 stint with
Manchester. His record with Manchester was 78-29. This spring,
Alford became head coach of the UCLA Bruins men’s basketball
team, following in the footsteps of Coach John Wooden.
“Coach Alford will always be special, largely because of the influence
he had on me as a player and person,” says former point guard
Aaron Wolfe ’96, who today coaches the NorthWood High School
basketball team in Nappanee, Ind. “The time I was able to spend
with Coach Alford as he modeled being a Christian, teacher, coach,
husband and father made a significant impact on my decision to
pursue teaching and coaching.”
“The Father of Manchester Football” was Carl Burt ’27, who in 18
seasons led the Spartans to a 73-43-9 record, advancing to
championships four times. The football field today honors his name.
Jim Gratz coached multiple sports. His name hangs high
above the Spartan baseball field, where he spent 25 years
and led the Black & Gold to 241 wins.
To continue a strong coaching legacy, the hiring process is
key, says Thomas S. Jarman, who led the athletic program
for 18 years and to national championships in nine sports.
As head wrestling coach, Jarman produced 22 All-
Americans, 26 Academic All-Americans, a national
champion and three Top 10 national team finishes. He
retired in 2007.
Jarman will be the first to declare that coaching is much
more than the stat sheet and the win column. “We always
sought to bring in people who understood the overall
development of the student-athlete,” he says. “When I visit
with coaches on campus, of course we talk about the wins
and losses. But the conversation usually moves to how the
student-athletes are doing as human beings.”
Jarman was inducted into the National Wrestling Coaches
Association NCAA Division III Hall of Fame and six other
halls of fame. Many of his former assistants and student-athletes today are coaches, perpetuating his influence
by setting strong examples and high expectations for
future generations of athletes and coaches.
Among Jarman’s 2004 hires was basketball Head
Coach Brad Nadborne. He introduced his team to
Steve Alford in November 2010, when the Spartans
played New Mexico Lobos in Albuquerque in an
exhibition game before a sell-out crowd of 14,093
Some student-athlete experiences are not on the
playing field or court. For some, it is a first airplane
trip (perhaps to California or New Mexico), tasting
Jamaican food or leaving Indiana for the first time.
Services also are an integral part of the teamwork at
Manchester. Spartans raise funds and help with
construction at a School for the Deaf, raise funds
(and auction off their pink game jerseys) for cancer
awareness, serve in the community and much more.
It’s all part of the Manchester Spartan student-athlete
culture. It’s how we coach.
BY CHAZ BELLMAN ’13
with Jeri Kornegay and Mark Adkins
Allen Mack ’87: Honoring the memory of
legendary Coach Claude Wolfe ’40
|Coach Allen Mack ’87 is
congratulated by former Athletic
Director Tom Jarman (left) and
President Jo Young ’69 Switzer.
EACH YEAR AT HOMECOMING, the M Association honors one of its own for
his or her achievements and contributions to coaching – a sensational
alum who brings honor to Manchester and the memory of Coach Claude
The 2012 Claude Wolfe Coach of the Year is Allen Mack ’87, boys’
basketball head coach for Miami East High School in southwest Ohio.
Well-respected throughout Ohio, Mack has guided the Vikings to three
state finals, including a Division III OHSAA state title and losing another
closely contested title game to LeBron James and St. Vincent High School.
(Yes, the LeBron James.)
Mack also knows well the path to cross country championships and was
2011 Conference Coach of the Year. Mack is principal of Miami East Junior
“Miami East’s Allen Mack has become one of the state’s most respected
coaches,” reported Sonny Fulks in writing about the passion and
commitment of high school coaches for the online PressPros Magazine.
“It really doesn’t matter if you were a good player,” Mack told PressPros.
“What matters is seeing the game, paying attention and understanding
how the game is played. It’s a matter of recognition and reaction to what
To nominate an alum for the 2013 Claude Wolfe Coach
of the Year, visit
www.manchester.edu/OCA/Alumni/coachofyearform.htm. Nominations may be based on outstanding success in
the past year or over the course of several years.