EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (blugolds.com) - Marcie Schwamberger, who is entering her 10th season as an assistant coach for UW-Eau Claire's cross country and track teams, is the 2016 recipient of the Joe Merten Coaching Award.
The award will be presented at the UW-Eau Claire Blugold Hall of Fame banquet Friday, September 30. The banquet is open to the public and tickets, which are $25, can be obtained by contacting the UWEC Alumni Office at 715 836-3266 or firstname.lastname@example.org. The awards program will begin at 6:30 p.m. preceded by a social at 4:30 p.m. and dinner at 5:30 p.m.
The Joe Merten Coaching Award is a $500 cash stipend available to any part-time assistant coach, graduate assistant or community coach in any of the 22 sports in the Blugold sports module. The award was named to honor Blugold basketball Hall of Famer Joe Merten who died in 2008. According to the family's criteria for the award, the recipient "shall demonstrate a deep commitment to the student athletes and embody a passion for lifelong learning and the 'love of the game.'"
Schwamberger, who ran collegiately for UW-Stevens Point as Marcie Fisher, arrived with her husband, Blugold head cross country coach Dan Schwamberger, 10 years ago. Soon the women's distance program won its first NCAA team cross country national championship in 2009. In 2015 the men followed suit, claiming the school's first men's cross country team championship. With her help, the cross country teams have seen multiple top 10 national finishes (women five times, men four times) as well as conference team titles (women six and men two). The strength of the distance crew has also been instrumental in the success of the track and field teams as well, said Schneider, referencing the last two NCAA indoor men's team championships.
Schwamberger, a native of Oshkosh who prepped at North High School, also works full-time for the Eau Claire school district as a physical education teacher. Schneider said of Schwamberger, "Each day you can see Marcie running from her car, into McPhee, and into the locker room to change quickly to join the distance crew for the day's run. The athletes are always willing to wait because of her infectious love of the sport and her good nature. It's also nice when she bakes a cake for the athletes to celebrate a birthday. It's these attentions to details that help make our teams our family at UW-Eau Claire." He went on, "Marcie truly has a 'love for the sport' which has allowed her to influence those she coaches on many levels." Working with both the cross country team and track teams, it is a long season spanning from September until late May without a break.
The previous Merten award winners are Kimamo Wahome, Amanda Zenner, Amanda Schultz, Liz Germonprez, Paul Conlin, Erik Strand, Jeremy Deterville and Seth Hoyer.