I remember when I first realized I wanted to be a college coach. I was walking through the hallway to my college coach's office (circa 1997 Wartburg College). I had a class in the building where her office was and didn't get to see her out of practice too often so I thought I would just stop and say hi. She was busy preparing to teach her next class and had recruiting papers and VCR tapes spread out all over her desk that looked like a mess (I'm sure it was in a system that was very organized to her). But, in the moment I dropped in, she stopped everything she had going on, smiled and invited me to sit down.
I thought of this "realization" Monday afternoon, as it was the first day back for the students at Luther. The first Monday of the new year... filled with excitement and expectations of the semester ahead. I am a head college coach who currently is not "in season." Monday, Jan. 6 was a very typical day for me. It was typical in a sense that I did so many different things-none of which were planned on my schedule when I came to the office that morning.
Sat down at my desk at 8:30 a.m., I had a meeting with Kari, our eligibility/NCAA compliance assistant in the athletic department, to discuss how we were going to better document official visits by recruited student-athletes to campus. One of my pitchers dropped by and asked me to order more floor tape for their mounds because they were almost out. I met with Aaron Hafner (head football coach) about his recruiting plans for the upcoming months as he needed advice on doing everything by the book (the NCAA rule book that is). I had a baseball player drop by my office and ask me about a coaching opportunity he had received for the summer; he wanted to make sure it was all okay with the NCAA rules that he get paid for the job. I met with Amanda Bailey (head women’s basketball coach) about a couple of recruits we are dual-recruiting to possibly play two sports in college. I had one of my freshman stop by and we talked about her mono diagnosis, how she was feeling, and how soon she would be able to start working out with the team again. I met with Alex Smith (head baseball coach) about the trip we took with our athletic director and director of campus facilities last week to the Metrodome in Minneapolis to buy 600 stadium chairs from the Minnesota Twins for our new softball and baseball stadiums we are building this summer. I met with Chris Garcia-Prats (head men’s soccer coach) about his senior captain that we are nominating for an NCAA Post-Graduate Scholarship. We both read the second draft of his essay and gave him some feedback on it over email because he had already left for his J-term abroad experience. I had one of my softball captains drop by my office so she could try on her new catching gear that came in while she was away on break. I met with Mark Franzen (head men’s basketball coach) to tell him that I got to sit and converse with one of his recruits last Saturday at our home basketball game.
I took a deep breath and returned a few calls about our upcoming clinic this weekend. My stomach growled… looked at my clock and was surprised it was 12:15 p.m. already…..ate some crackers and tuna and an orange… and a diet mountain dew and some M & M's from the jar on my desk. I returned a few emails to my SAAC (Student-Athlete-Advisory-Committee) executive board to schedule some planning meetings for our upcoming Norse ESPY Awards in March. I ate a few more M & M's because they are sitting right there and they are so yummy. Then, I started to think about how my afternoon would go after the fun morning I just had and remembered why I decided I wanted to be in this profession!
I love what I get to do today. I love that every day is different. I love that I get to help others all day and that others feel that I can help them achieve their goals and dreams. Go Norse!
Renae Hartl is head softball coach and associate athletic director at Luther College. She also serves as Luther's senior women's administrator and NCAA compliance and eligibility officer. Her coaching record of 363-146 stands out as one of the best in the history of Luther College athletics. She has three consecutive 40+ win seasons and four consecutive appearances in the NCAA National Championship Finals.