When Mark Hawald left the University of Mount Union to take the head coaching position at Case Western Reserve University, he left an opening that was quickly filled by his former assistant Bill Schindel. Schindel not only wrestled for and coached with Hawald at Mount Union, he was the first NCAA qualifier and All-American of Hawald’s five year tenure. After four years together at Mount Union, they are going separate ways in search of new challenges.
Schindel will be just 25 during his first year as the Mount Union head coach. This makes him one of the youngest college head coaches in the country at any level, and with just one year of experience as an assistant coach, he will have to learn quickly on the job. Hawald can relate to the situation in which Schindel now finds himself. “Like me, he will be 25 in his first year as a head coach. He is young and he will make mistakes. I still make mistakes. The oldest and the best coaches in the country still make mistakes. He just needs to understand that he will too and learn from those mistakes to make himself a better coach. His priorities and his intentions will always be right so if he is wrong strategically or technically, that will be something he can adjust.”
For his part, Schindel is ready to face the challenge of continuing the success his alma mater has experienced under Hawald. “Mark is a great coach and a great mentor to me. I learned a lot from him and look forward to coaching against him at regionals. I don’t know that anyone can be fully prepared for any new experience. What I do know is that my family and Mount Union has taught me that hard work and dedication to something you’re passionate about will pay off in the end. This University has given me a lot and now it is my time to give back.”
With four of Mount Union’s five NCAA qualifiers gone to graduation, Schindel is faced with reloading a team around 2011 All-American and three time NCAA qualifier Riki Reynolds. “We graduated a big class this past season. All that means is there will be a lot of competition in the room for guys battling over spots and wanting to work harder than the next guy.” If Schindel is able to recruit and develop the talent, Mount Union will be able to move forward without skipping a beat. Even though he is responsible for a whole team and not just his own success, he views successful preparation in the same way, “As a wrestler I made sure I did everything extra that I could do to leave nothing to chance, and now as a coach that role doesn’t change.”
Schindel looks to be in it for the long haul and is excited to have achieved a career goal so early. “There is nowhere else I would rather be in the world. I have wanted to be a head coach as long as I can remember. After spending 3 years wrestling at Mount Union I wanted nothing more than to be given the chance to coach here. Last year was a blessing, and I had an amazing time learning a lot and taking it all in. . . I can’t wait for the challenges that are in front of me.”
Schindel’s opportunity arose when Mark Hawald, the previous coach, stepped down to take a similar position at Case Western Reserve University. He is confident he left the program in good hands. “What made him successful as an athlete was his desire to win and the belief that he was going to win. I think Bill will translate this into coaching. He was appointed as the head coach by the athletic director Larry Kehres who has won ten national titles as a football coach and knows how to hire winning coaches. That alone means something to me.”
Hawald decided to make the move closer to his hometown of Solon, Ohio, after analyzing the opportunity at Case. “I wondered what type of opportunity would be there personally, professionally, and competitively and after the interview process I realized it would be a better fit for me for all three in the long term.” He will take over a program that has had a great deal of individual success, including recently graduated three time All-American and NCAA Champion Isaac Dukes, but did not win a dual meet in either of the past two seasons. Hawald has a plan to turn that around in the coming seasons. “[All-American Drew] Gardella was a senior when Dukes was a freshman. If I can get one of these individuals every year instead of one every 3 or 4 years, that would put us in the top 15 or 20 consistently. If we got two of these individuals a year, that would put us in the top 10 consistently. I need to find these people and let them know they will not find a better combination of academics and wrestling anywhere else in Division III. Once that reputation is established, I can see multiple wrestlers of that caliber being recruited every year.”
The biggest change for Hawald will be in recruiting as he moves to one of the top ranked universities in the country with an early application deadline, high tuition, and stringent admissions standards. “The recruiting will change dramatically. The academic standards are tougher so I will be finding different people to recruit. That will be the major difference.” That said, Hawald is convinced that many of the attributes that make someone a successful wrestler can be applied equally to academic succes, so there is no reason he cannot be as successful at Case as he was at Mount Union. “My most successful wrestlers have typically been my best students too. I do well with someone who is not just serious about wrestling, but serious about life. I do not plan on changing my coaching approach too much. A winner is a winner whether he is at Case or at Mount Union.”
Ideally, this shakeup in Ohio Division III wrestling will ultimately leave both programs better as Case and Mount Union head in new directions. Hawald will try to rebuild while Schindel looks to reload and learn on the job.