Dotterweich Recounts NCAA Experience - From Two Angles

SUNY Geneseo swimming & diving head coach Paul Dotterweich led the Knights to another championship season during the 2014-15 campaign. He was also appointed to the NCAA Division III Championship committee last summer. Coach Dotterweich took some time to recount his experience at this year's championship, as well as take a look back at what his teams achieved.

In the spring of 2014, I received an email from the NCAA informing me that I had been appointed to the NCAA Swimming & Diving Championships Committee for a four-year term.  My first thought was, “Wow how cool is that!”  I was very excited and incredibly honored to receive the appointment.  This was an opportunity for professional growth as well as representing both Geneseo and the SUNYAC on the national level.  At the time, I had an idea, but wasn’t entirely sure about the responsibilities associated with the appointment. However, I knew I was all-in.  

A year into the term, I am pleased with the experience I have had so far.  As a committee member, I have monthly conference calls in preparation for the NCAA Championships.  I was a little surprised to find that the committee has a say in almost every aspect of the championships, from choosing sites for regional diving meets and selection of the swimming officials for the championship meet, to how tickets would be sold to various groups and who the keynote speaker for the banquet would be.  I have a new appreciation for the amount of work that goes into organizing an NCAA Championship competition.

While I was at the NCAA Championship meet, my responsibilities varied.  On the days that Geneseo had student-athletes competing, the committee chair was very understanding of my need to be a coach first and relieved me of any responsibilities.  During the sessions when our team didn’t have anyone competing, I worked the “race-ready” area, making sure all the swimmers were present and accounted for prior to their events.

I also worked the meet management table fielding coaches’ questions, verifying scratch cards and distributing event results to the awards-ready area and the media. In addition to our responsibilities with meet management, we also served as the meet committee and made decisions on rules issues and appeals.  As you can see, being on the committee keeps you very busy!

Back home, our Geneseo teams continued the long tradition of success at both the conference and national levels this season.  I am a firm believer that team culture is critical to sustaining the level of success we have.  We have a family atmosphere that is guided by our values statement and five core team values: responsibility, integrity, courage, respect and accountability. This is what guides our decisions as students, athletes and people, and is presented to every recruit before they make a commitment to compete at Geneseo. This is who we are and we want student-athletes who believe in that.

Some of the highlights from the SUNYAC Championship meet included the men capturing their 14th team championship in the last 15 years and the women clinching their 12th in the last 15 seasons.  Both teams won in convincing fashion, with the men winning by over 350 points and the women almost doubling the closet competitor’s score.

Individually, we were able to secure the men’s (senior John Nasky) and women’s (senior Abigail Max) swimmer of the meet, men’s diver (first-year Sam Randall) of the meet and the Grace Mowatt Award winner, honoring career achievement on the women’s side (Max). In addition, we had four Knights qualify for the NCAA Championships - Nasky qualified in the 1,650 freestyle and Max made it in the 200 and 500 freestyles while Randall and junior Caroline Gardner qualified in the diving events.  All the team’s hard work paid off - what a weekend!

The year’s success continued at the NCAA Championships. While in Texas, our athletes were able to remain focused and put in a great effort. Gardner became the first women’s diving All-American in over 20 years after finishing 15th in the 1-meter competition. I also couldn’t be happier for John and Abigail. They are two of the hardest working most dedicated student-athletes I have coached in my 18-year career. As coaches, we always preach about hard work paying off and for these two, it has.

John was able to garner his first All-America certificate with a gutty performance in the 1,650, moving up from being ranked 10th entering the week to finishing in ninth place only two seconds away from the top-eight in a race that is over 15 minutes long. Abigail wrapped up a phenomenal career earning her 15th All-America certificate in the 500 freestyle with a 10th-place effort, before winning her 16th certificate with a fourth-place finish in the 200 freestyle which was the highest ever by a Geneseo swimmer or diver at the meet. It has been a privilege to be associated with these two and I am proud to say I was their coach!

I want to thank everyone who is a member of the Roundtable Athletic Association.  Your support is critical to the success of all of our programs.  We wouldn’t be able to accomplish the great things we do without you!