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Manchester magazine
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How we coach
From Carl Burt to Claude Wolfe to Lana Groombridge to Tom Jarman: passing the baton of students-first athletics

Basketball Head Coach Brad Nadborne, pictured with the 2007 team at a tough game with IPFW, was Midwest Region Coach of the Year after leading the 2010-2011 Spartans to the NCAA Division III tournament.
(Click for enlargement)

Related links:
MU Spartans website
Honoring the memory of Coach Claude Wolfe ’40
Epeset named all-region coach of the year
Nominate a Coach of the Year

More pictures from this article:


Assistant Coach Brad Yoder,
pictured here with the men’s cross
country team, has coached 51 National
qualifiers, 18 All-Americans and 34
Academic All-Americans.



Brian Cashdollar is head coach of
track and field and cross country,
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 in softball.


 

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 playing level.”

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
All-Region teams.

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 Brueggeman.

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 atmosphere.”

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 help them.

“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 screaming fans.

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 Wolfe ’40.

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
High.

“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
you see.”

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.

So many Manchester stories to share; what
are yours?

from the president

Manchester, my home
Residence halls, dorms ... home away from home.

How we coach
The Spartan tradition: respect, accountability, commitment, focus ... and fun.

Head-first learning
Capitalizing on experience-based opportunities.

Bidding on memories
Alumni and friends gather for an auction and storytelling.

Philanthropy 101
Celebrating careers of Bob ’57 and Helen
Bollinger ’54 Hollenberg

Profiles of ability and conviction

“Hail to her majesty, Queen of the May!
 

Alumni Office | 888-257-2586 | alumnioffice@manchester.edu