Get To Know West Virginia Wesleyan's Mark Dziak

by Josh Huger (MrUtopia)

Bookmark and Share

Created November 17th, 2010 07:32:09 PM

Modified November 17th, 2010 07:32:09 PM

This interview is with West Virginia Wesleyan College's Mark Dziak. Coach Dziak, who is in his fourth year at the helm of the Bobcat program, has helped his swimmers reach all levels of success. Throughout his career Coach Dziak’s swimmers have become conference champions, made NCAA appearances, achieved All-American statuses, and set school records.

In this SwimUtopia interview Coach Dziak tells us what caused him to go into coaching and what he expects from his WVWC squad this upcoming season.

Let’s get started!

What team do you currently coach for?
West Virginia Wesleyan College

What made you choose to take the head coaching position?
Wesleyan gave me an opportunity at a young age.  As someone who wanted to be a head coach, I knew that the opportunities were limited.  Wesleyan believed in me and I feel that I have proven myself as a coach while building the program during my time here.   

What are some of the things that you expect from WVWC this upcoming season?
I expect us to continue to get better, break more school records, and send more swimmers to NCAAs.  Last year we sent 4 men and I’d love to see some women there with more men.  With the changes in the qualification procedure, it is going to be harder to make it there, so that brings an added challenge.  Based on the changes in our conference [schools leaving], that gives my swimmers more opportunities to swim at night at the Conference Meet.  I want to see those swimmers who were in consols to be in finals; those in bonus finals to be in consols; and those who only swam in prelims to get a chance to swim at night.

What other teams or schools have you coached at before coming to WVWC?
I served as an assistant at Case Western Reserve (alma mater) for two years and then worked as a volunteer coach at Michigan State while in grad school.  I worked with all groups and it gave me good exposure to different coaching ideas, sets, and ways of training.  While at MSU I also worked with a developmental team.  That experience really helped me understand the strokes and figure out how to teach them

What would you say your biggest accomplishment has been in coaching?
That’s a tough one…can I give you two?  I had a swimmer a 6:00+ his first meet as a freshman get down to a 5:06 his senior year while swimming lifetime best times in 11 events (out of 12) at the conference meet during his career.  That is pretty special to me.  Also the first swimmer I had break a record and the first swimmers qualifying for NCAAs were significant milestones in my career.  That’s three…you can’t limit me to just one.

Is there any particular moment that stands out in your mind from coaching?
When I realized that I’ve coached athletes to faster times than other coaches that I’ve worked with and admired…that has given me the confidence that at a young age, this is something I can do and succeed at. 

What motivates you as a coach?
I want to make my swimmers faster while hopefully making them better people.  I had great experiences as a swimmer and really respect the sport in terms of its demands in training and commitment. 

What do you do to motivate your swimmers?
I think the big thing is to keep reminding the athletes of their goals and what they want to accomplish.  Whether it is simply bettering their previous time to qualifying for finals or consols to being on a relay to qualifying for NCAAs.  I also like to plant seeds and give a swimmer an idea of what they can achieve in this sport.

Do you have any personal routines before the start of a swim meet?
I don’t have any personal routines myself but I do have a wardrobe which I try to fashion around the color of orange.  My team really likes my enthusiasm for the color orange.  Every once in awhile I will bust out a few moves – I can Reject and have been working on my Dougie.

What caused you to go into coaching?
I had a wonderful experience as a swimmer and I wanted to give back to the sport.  I also hope that I can be a positive influence/role-model to my athletes in all aspects of their lives.

Please provide any additional information about yourself that you might want to include!
Um…with Facebook and the like, there isn’t much that people don’t know about me.  My biggest success as an athlete was not in the pool but running – I finished in the top 500 in the 2006 Boston Marathon.  I care passionately for Cleveland’s Sports Teams [my hometown]…I’m a huge R.E.M. fan…I’ve visit Germany at least once a year…I take what I do seriously but also realize that you also need to have fun while you’re doing things and I try to incorporate that into my life.