In September, the men and women’s swimming and diving teams gained a valuable new staff member, Assistant Coach Danny Koenig. Enticed by the growing program, Koenig came to Vassar after coaching at the Division I level.
A swimmer since age seven, Koenig moved on to year-round training when he was 11. He also played other sports, but stuck with swimming. “I enjoyed playing baseball and basketball as a kid, but by the time I got to high school I was entirely focused on swimming. I saw some great things while swimming in high school,” he explained in an emailed statement. These highlights included three Wisconsin High School State Titles and two U.S.A. Swimming Junior National relay records.
He continued, “Early in my senior year, I signed a National Letter of Intent to swim for the Badgers at the University of Wisconsin. Swimming at Wisconsin was the greatest experience of my swimming career. I had the opportunity to train with Olympians, NCAA champions and future National team members, as well as witness several American and World Records at meets.” His time spent swimming for the University of Wisconsin is what made him initially consider a coaching career. “Being a part of that made me want to coach at the collegiate level,” he wrote. “In my last semester of undergrad, I served as the student coach of the UW swim team, and after that I served as a graduate assistant for Carthage College. Last year, I was the assistant coach at the University of North Dakota.”
Koenig applied to the assistant coach position at Vassar, even though he initially did not know much about the school. “Coming from the Midwest, I knew relatively little about Vassar College, only that it had an unparalleled academic reputation. Through some research I came to find out that Vassar offers a lot more than outstanding academics, and that was enticing for me,” he wrote. “I interviewed for the assistant position at Vassar in the middle of September. A week later I was offered the job, and by the end of the month I had moved to Poughkeepsie.”
Koenig also was interested in the swimming and diving program’s potential. “I was drawn here initially by the academic prestige of the college, the familial vibe of the athletic department and the personality of the Head Coach. I also saw an opportunity to impart my knowledge on a program with a lot of potential,” he wrote. “I was looking forward to the challenge, and I felt that it was a phenomenal opportunity to apply what I had learned as both an athlete and as a coach.”
According to Koenig, his duties at Vassar now include everything from recruiting and writing practices to buying gun cleaner for timing equipment. “Every day on the job brings something completely different, and that is one of the main reasons I chose this profession,” he wrote. “There’s never a dull moment, and I love that about collegiate coaching. Our primary goal is to improve through a very specific focus, usually a combination of performance strategy, stroke technique and race details.”
Koenig has been satisfied with being part of the team thus far, and he has already made an impact. “He has integrated very fluidly into the team environment due to his congenial and approachable nature,” wrote junior Matt Weiss in an emailed statement. “I would say Coach Koenig is naturally a very reserved and shy person. However, his wealth of Division I swimming knowledge and experience adds an important dimension to our growing program. Overall, he is a more than welcome addition to our team.”
According to freshman Julia Cunningham, “When [Koenig] started coaching, we were all a little bit nervous. He came from a huge DI team, and he seemed to carry that mentality with him to our little DIII team. He was very intense, and had huge goals in mind both for individuals and for the team,” she wrote. “As the season has progressed, however, [Koenig] has definitely become an important part of the team.” She continued, “He brings a lot of enthusiasm to the deck both during practices and during meets. [Koenig] has helped us a lot with the technical aspects of swimming: stroke technique, starts, turns. He integrates a lot of that into practices, and is willing to help us on his own time as well.” Also according to Cunningham, “During meets, [he] has been really helpful with keeping our energy up between races as well as providing race strategies.”
Koenig reciprocates the team’s appreciation. “My favorite part of every day is our time at practice. I sincerely enjoy interacting with the team. As a group, they are enthusiastic, disciplined, and supportive of one another. I think that makes them wildly unique. I try to spend time with the team outside of practice, which gives me a chance to understand each of them as a person and not simply as an athlete,” he explained. “Each person on the team has something to offer, and they are all very caring and understanding of one another. I am very proud of our little tribe, and couldn’t be happier to be a part of it.”
Five months into the season, Koenig feels completely welcome in the program, and has high hopes for the rest of his career. “I feel very honored to be a part of Vassar Athletics. The entire staff immediately made me feel like part of the family. I am lucky to be working next to some of the most talented and hard working coaches in the country. It is gratifying to be part of an athletic department that is constantly looking for ways to improve and succeed,” he expressed. “I believe that Vassar Athletics is seeing some of its finest years. I am truly grateful for the opportunity to contribute to our success as a unit, and am excited for what the future holds.”