Interview with Brian Schaefer, 05/01/2017

UW Oshkosh Campus Stories
John Collins, Interviewer | uwocs_Brian_Schaefer_05012017_uc.mp3
Campus Stories Oral History Project (UWO Audio Series 51) |


JC: Alright, so, today is May 1st, 2017. It is 5:09PM. We're in the Oshkosh Student Recreation and Wellness Center. My name is John Collins, and I am interviewing -

BS: Brian Schaefer.

JC: Um, this is for the Campus Stories Oral History Project. And, so, we're gonna get started here. We, uh, I'll start off simple here. Where did you grow up?

BS: I grew up in Kaukauna, Wisconsin which is about half an hour north of Oshkosh.

JC: Alright. So, if you could describe that city for us? In the best possible way.

BS: Yeah, I mean, I think you could describe Kaukauna as Hometown, USA, to be honest. Um, I knew everybody that I graduated with. Um, our town is about 13,000 1:00people, um, you know it's in Northeastern Wisconsin so you still were close enough to do things. Appleton is right there, so the Fox River Mall was our hangout growing up. Uh, luckily enough. But Kaukauna really hasn't gotten much bigger since I graduated, but I loved it. Um, you know, some people say they easily can move on from high school. I would probably go back in a second even though I like my life right now. But, um, yeah Kaukauna was safe, fun, um, yeah, I really enjoyed going to my grade and middle school. And then obviously went to high school.

JC: So what kind of activities did you get into when you were in high school then?

BS: When I was in high school I was in - I would not, I would say non marquis-sports I played tennis and then, um, intramural volleyball, um, and then 2:00I also bowled on a competitive league on weekends and a traveling league going to like, the state tournaments and stuff like that. And then beyond that, sports activities, um, I was in National Honors Society, I was in the yearbook, I was in Harbringer which is like our student newspaper in Kaukauna. I helped with the yearbook. You know, I was in a lot of different things. Um, I was also in Junior Achievement all the way through high school. Um, so yeah, I was -

JC: You were pretty busy.

BS: A lot of different things, yeah.

JC: Yeah. Ah, what kind of student would you say you were?

BS: I probably didn't really realize what grades were until probably my junior year.

JC: Yeah.

BS: Um, I think I graduated with maybe a 3.35. Um, I had a pretty good ACT score. I don't think I had any problems getting into UW Oshkosh, but I mean I 3:00honestly don't remember doing homework in high school. Um, I think, I mean I did enough to get by. Maybe if I had applied myself a little bit more I would have had a higher GPA but looking back I don't think there was anything wrong with what I did.

JC: Uh, with some of the things that you were in I would say it's safe to say like how you said it, non-marquis activities. Uh, what drew you to like, yearbook and newspaper? And the school the newspaper.

BS: Um, when I, um, was kind of deciding on what I liked to do I always did like to write and be involved. Um, I think when I was in 8th grade we had to kind of do our own little yearbook. I went to a Catholic grade and middle school so I mean I knew everybody by - really, really closely. Um, and same thing kind of. 4:00Our 8th grade teacher developed our own - we had to do our own kind of like mini-yearbook. And I really liked that, um, and then I would say friends always shape who you are in high school, so a lot of my friends, um, were in that type of stuff. Um, I was kind of surprised I got inducted into National Honors Society because I always kind of viewed that as being like, the really smart kids and people that were kind of the jock and stuff like that. But to be honest I was, this sounds arrogant, but I was really popular with everybody. I was the type of person that talked to everybody, I was in shop, and I was in, you know, like I said, the things I already mentioned. But, um, anybody could talk to me, anybody, and I would talk to anybody else, so I mean I think that's kind of why I, um, kind of just went to a lot of different activities.

JC: So, with your hometown of Kaukauna you said it was small, only about 30,000.

BS: 13,000.


JC: 13! Okay, that's even better then. So, I'm assuming you knew everyone from, like grade school to high school and you grew up with those same group of friends, kind of, and you - it was like you knew everyone like that. Was that how it was for every school? Is there only one school in Kaukauna?

BS: Yeah, there was, um, well I went to - there was three Catholic grade schools. That has since changed, now there's just one.

JC: Okay.

BS: But my 8th grade class only had 19 kids in it. So, I obviously knew everybody. Um, but right away my freshman year I made friends from the public school. And, um, you know and obviously in that situation when there's 225 graduating seniors eventually when we were freshman there was probably like 270 because people obviously drop out or move or other things happen. Um, so between the two - the three Catholic grade schools there probably, you know, was only like 70 kids.

JC: Yeah.

BS: And so you had to make other friends. So, I was just that person that made 6:00friends pretty easily. Um, so, like I already mentioned, every person that went across the stage when I graduated I knew who they were, and I know a lot of people are like "Who the heck was that?" You know, if you go to a bigger school.

JC: Yeah.

BS: But I think there's still was people that I graduated with that didn't know each other - everybody because they just kind of isolated themselves from certain cliques or certain people, and I wasn't that person.

JC: So, with your family then, did you have any siblings?

BS: Yup. I have an older sister.

JC: Okay. Older sister. And then would you say your family was really close-knit? Do you have any other family around you?

BS: Yeah, my - um, growing up, um, that's kind of the Hometown, USA vibe, I would say Kaukauna gave me, is that I have, um, lots of cousins on my mom's side. I have 19 other cousins, and I'm the fourth youngest. But I was luckily, um, kind of born around other male cousins that were like my brothers growing 7:00up. Um, so I have a significantly close cousin that's two years younger than me, and then some - another cousin that's one year older and then two years older, so then when I - in summer time I would go and they were the jocks. They played football, they played baseball, they played summer stuff. So I would go there for like a week. Um, that's only in Princeton, WI even smaller Hometown, USA.

JC: I know where Princeton is.

BS: (laughs) So, I mean I love that aspect of growing up. I mean, I would consider them my brothers.

JC: Yeah. Uh, so... was college always the thing that was expected in your family then? Or was that your own personal choice?

BS: Um, looking back I would say that, um, because I wasn't really a big trade person, like I never liked working on cars or I couldn't see myself as somebody 8:00that was going to be a carpenter or plumber or something like that, um, so I kind of geared towards right away looking for four year schools. Maybe when I was a junior? My dad did not go to college, my mom went to nursing school. Back then it was - you were doing nursing for 18 months and then you were a nurse, there was really not many four year colleges for that profession. And then my sister, um, went to Fox Valley Tech in Appleton so she didn't leave home until she bought her house when she was 25 or 26. But, either way my story is that I had a very close girlfriend, um, that went to school here. She's actually in the hall of fame. And, um, for track and field.

JC: Oh, okay.

BS: Um, so I would come down and visit her, and um, kind of got used to college I guess as a senior when she was a freshman. So I kind of, um, I guess was familiar with Oshkosh, and then when I was deciding where I was going to apply 9:00and stuff like that Oshkosh was pretty much at the top of my list.

JC: Mmhmm. And it was because of the familiarity -

BS: Yup. Being close to home, I mean. I originally wanted psychology. Oshkosh has a good psychology, um, program, um, I didn't - I wasn't in a situation where I could afford a private school so I never looked at any of those. Or if I did then I would turn the page and be like "Oh! It's $40,000! That is not going to work." (laughs) So, um, yeah so Oshkosh just seemed an easy choice.

JC: Did you ever consider going to a different one? Like, did you tour any other ones?

BS: Yeah, I toured Marquette, um, and Platteville. Um, and then I seriously looked at Northland because I was also into environmental conservation, forestry, that sort of thing. Um, a lot of my friends went to Steven's Point. I don't really know why I didn't look at Steven's Point more closely because they have a good forestry program. But yeah, I mean I did look at those places, um, I 10:00guess back then I don't know if a lot of people really toured a lot of colleges like maybe they do today.

JC: Yeah.

BS: Or maybe my friends did, but my parents, to be honest, I kind of tell this joke to recruits when I'm, um, you know showing them around campus with the volleyball team. My dad did not know when I got to Highway 41 if we should go south or north. Like, he had no clue where I was going to go to college. I was pretty much on my own. I mean, I did all the paperwork myself and stuff like that. My mom obviously helped me but, you know, it was pretty much on my own with everything. So, that said I knew - or, in my head I probably thought back then "Why would I go somewhere far away when a good school is half an hour away?"

JC: See, that's different from a lot of things now. It seems like you were pretty independent with everything that you did. Was it -

BS: Yup.

JC: Was that how it always was for you?


BS: Yeah, it was I mean...

JC: You took care of it?

BS: Yup, financial aid I did all myself, um, I paid for school entirely by myself. Um, when I graduated I think I had maybe 7 dollars left in my checking account. (laughs) But, um, I still remember thinking "Whoo!" because I did not have a loan. I got through school all by myself. I worked a lot, but times have changed. I still remember my first admissions, er, yeah, tuition check was for $998. You know, and then, after I got done graduating then tuition really skyrocketed.

JC: Yeah.

BS: And now it's kind of leveled off. Um, because of tuition freezes by our governor which is helping students. But, um, yeah. So, I mean back then a lot more grants, a lot more work study. Um, budgets were a lot different so I mean you really could get through school. And like I said, I mean, I worked a lot. I 12:00always had jobs that either were tip related or a volleyball official so you got paid cash. So I always had stuff.

JC: Any of your, uh, friends from high school come to UWO with you?

BS: Yup. Um, there was probably three. My freshman year they weren't my closest friends, so. But then my sophomore year my good friend Corey, who was also on the volleyball team with me, he went to Colorado State randomly his freshman year but then he transferred to Oshkosh so then we were both sophomores and we were very good friends and we lived together.

JC: Yeah. Alright, so you said you visited with your girlfriend and you were familiar with the campus when you were in high school. From then till your first night in Oshkosh, what was like your thought of the campus? And like, how did you feel on your first night when you were by yourself actually?

BS: Yeah, like, I mean to be honest I didn't tour the campus. It was only with 13:00her, um, you know we - we would go to, we didn't have the Student Rec and Wellness Center then, so we'd go to Kolf and shoot buckets or Albee and stuff like that. Um, so it was just basically kind of wherever we hung out. So, I mean I never toured Halsey or anything like that. So I mean I remember, um, because I decided really late to go to Oshkosh actually, I got placed in Gruenhagen.

JC: Okay.

BS: Um, so and there was only three floors that actually used it. And I didn't know my roommate, um, back then, I mean I didn't even think about asking Kaukauna people, I don't know, I just was like "Oh, I'll try somebody new!" and you know, make a new friend. And he was cool, um, but I just remember, um, being on campus later in July, figuring out my class schedule. Um, I was just really late. And then I still remember 13 credits, um, ready to kind of start. I mean, 14:00I wasn't afraid. I think there's always nervousness. Like, am I going to go to the right classroom?

JC: Yeah.

BS: You know? And back then we didn't have things online. So I mean you really had a piece of paper and it said "Clow 108" and you're like "Okay! I'm going to Clow 108!" and there was no D2L to check if the class was canceled or anything like that so you just kind of had a lot of paper stuff going on and things like that. Yeah, but, yeah I remember being nervously excited, I guess.

JC: What would you say about the professors you had? Was there any that stuck out, or... any memorable professors?

BS: Yeah, I remember, um, my Spanish professor. I don't remember names, but, um, this short little thing that was probably as wide as she was tall, but she was awesome. Um, and I just only had two years of Spanish in high school so I mean it was kind of like, "Oh, she's speaking Spanish as she's teaching us!" so that 15:00was kind earth-shattering. Luckily I had it in high school when I was a junior and senior so it was kind of fresh. Um, but I thought she was a great teacher. I had, uh, um, trigonometry - or, algebra and trigonometry professor. It was five credits, it was 8'o'clock each day, she taught me a lot. Um, some bad professors I - I, uh, really remember, um, actually shaped my life because I didn't get through Psychological Statistics, I got an F, and then I retook it and got a D and you needed a C and I'm like "Okay, this isn't for me because I'm not going to retake it three times!" Or, a third time.

Um, so I switched to Social Work. And then when I got into Social Work I loved the program. Um, I loved the fact that I could call our professors by their first name. Um, just really great people. I mean it's obviously a caring profession so you would think that the professors would be that way, um, and they were. Um, so I really liked my professors, um, and then my senior year I 16:00had an internship through social work 240 hours a semester at the Fond du Lac Juvenile Court, and that shaped my life because it was really nervewracking. Um, I was lucky enough to be able to coach at Lakeland College as a senior in college with one of my friends and then I went to campus on Tuesdays and Thursdays and then went to Fond du Lac Juvenile Court Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. You know, I had to talk in front of judges. I had a couple clients that were pretty, um, crazy in terms of some of the stuff they did. But then there was the, you know, 5 or 4 or 5 that just shoplifted or something. It was just, you had to do restitution or do community service and those people still needed some help through a social worker because they're juveniles but just kind of got caught and realized "Oo, this wasn't the best choice." But then, you know, dealing with some of these other people like kind of made me, um, I guess push towards wanting to be a coach rather than a social worker.

JC: Mhmm. And those were all programs offered through the university then?


BS: Yup. Yup. Through social work we had to do, um, an internship. It was found for us. I was originally actually supposed to do, uh, school social worker up in Keshena, which was on the Indian reservation up there.

JC: Okay.

BS: And um, but then when I got offered the job at Lakeland College with my friend Chad Schreiber then they helped me find one that would actually work so I could do both.

JC: So, freshman year was psychology your major you declared then?

BS: Yup.

JC: Okay, and then you switched after you decided you hated that class?

BS: Right.

JC: And you went to social working and loved that.

BS: Yup.

JC: And you got your Bachelor's in 1998, correct?

BS: Right.

JC: Okay. So, where did you go from schooling there? You went and got your major, or your Master's?

BS: Um, nope, well, I did. Um, I graduated and then I actually coached at UW Green Bay for a year. For volleyball. Um.


JC: What year was that?

BS: Um, oh, I'm sorry. I got my undergrad in '96.

JC: Okay!

BS: And then I took - so then in '97 I coached with Chad again at Lakeland. '98 I, um, coached at UW Green Bay. Um, and then I started getting my Master's in Educational Leadership in 1999.

JC: Okay.

BS: Then so that's kind of like... um, yup. And then I graduated with my Master's in 2001. So it took me three years.

JC: Uh, so overall... now that we're saying that you graduated. What kind of student were you in college? Because you said you didn't understand grades until junior year? Did that transpire all the way through to college? Where you understood what you were doing then?

BS: Um, no, I didn't. And, uh, I would say my freshman year I got a 3.0. Um, you know, which is fine, I would say if I actually, um, knew what I was doing I 19:00should've probably gotten a 3.5 the classes weren't super hard or anything like that especially to start off with. I struggled in classes like biology which I to this day people still struggle on this campus with 105 we just called it Biology Concepts or something like that. And um, and so those classes I kind of mmm. But then the ones that I was legitimately interested in - and with psychology I know you have to have science, but - um, I did well in. The English type classes, randomly anthropology, or ethics and stuff like that I was good at. And then my sophomore year, that's when I struggled. Because of - I'm pretty sure I took Biology 105 and the statistics class, and I got a D and an F. So my first semester I remember getting below a 2.0. And um, and then second semester wasn't much better. But then junior year it turned around and then I got very 20:00good grades in my major because... in my major I was, um, there's not - it's not - it's pretty female dominated. Um, and I wasn't one of those people that raised my hand every single time. Just to hear myself talk. So I felt like the professors really valued my opinion. I felt like I wrote really thought provoking papers and with social work there was a lot of papers and projects. But, um, I really liked those classes and then naturally my grades got higher and higher so I ended up graduating with a 3.3.

JC: So it sounds like as you went through college you kind of figured out what you were trying to do more with your life?

BS: Yup.

JC: And where it was gonna lead you? When you graduated with your Master's then and you were done with school did you know where you were going with your career? Did you have jobs lined up, or?

BS: I knew I wanted to be a volleyball coach. No idea what would transpire. Um, at that point I was Marty Peterson's Assistant Coach, I was a GA in the 21:00intramural office so I liked that. Um, you know back then we - the students organized, um, a lot of the leagues and things like that because they didn't have what we have now a huge Student Wellness Center. Obviously all the full time people here. So they had - Marty was Intramural Director so she had to like, all the GAs had to help her with that and stuff. Um, but I knew I wanted to be a coach. I always hoped that it would be at Oshkosh because I was very close to Marty. And I knew she'd help me get the job. Um, but at that moment when I graduated I was, you know, still just her assistant.

JC: So, I know because I'm one of your players that you play volleyball and that you're pretty good. But I have an article that I found in the Advance Titan back 22:00in '99.

BS: (laughs)

JC: Alright. And this was right after - it was April 14th right after nationals. And you were quoted saying "It was disappointing that nationals, uh, but our goal is to win conference every year. You can't finish 5th at nationals every year." And I don't know if you'd remember but '99 was the year you guys finished 5th.

BS: Mm. (laughs)

JC: Which is what it says. And I'm going to bring it up just because it's ironic because now you've finished 5th every year for coaching our men's team.

BS: Mmhmm.

JC: I'm going to play a little game with you on this. Without looking at that shirt, 'cause I know you're wearing it and it has them all listed on there, could you name all of the national championships for all the divisions?

BS: Yup.

JC: And the years?

BS: Yup.

JC: Alright, let's go.


BS. Okay. 1999 we won D2.

JC: Alright.

BS: 2005, or 2006 excuse me, we won D1. 2007 we won D1. Um, 2010 we won D3.

JC: Yup.

BS: 2011 we won D1. 2012 we won D3. 2014 we won D1 and D3.

JC: Yup.

BS: 2015 we won, um, D1. And 2016 we won D1.

JC: Technically you're missing one, but I don't know if you would know because I think this would be like either when you were a freshman or a sophomore. But pretty sure we won 96 that we were Division 2.

BS: Oh no, I think I said that.

JC: Nope! You didn't.

BS: Oh, then I. I should've because I was on the team! (laughs)

JC: I was gonna say, you were there!

BS: Yeah.

JC: But, alright. So, moral of the story is you were a great volleyball player 24:00and you played from when you started - did you start your freshman year?

BS: Yeah.

JC: Okay.

BS: So, I started in '92, um, I was lucky enough to see a poster on the wall that said, um, you know "Try out for volleyball!" And, um, I had played, like I said, intramurals, my buddies and I always played at St. Mary's Catholic grade school and when we were in high school we'd always go to this rectory and ask the nuns to give us a key and they were like "Yeah, go play some volleyball, go play basketball, just stay off the streets!" (laughs) So, um, we did that. And uh, so then I was lucky enough to meet the people that gave me my nickname.

JC: Which is... ?

BS: Lumpy. (laughs)

JC: Lumpy, alright.

BS: And so, um, yeah so my freshman year I went to, still remember Albee Hall because Kolf was getting remodeled so we couldn't have that gym. And there was a lot of people that tried out and we had to, um, write down what team we thought 25:00we were going to be on because at that point we actually had A, B and C, kind of like we do now because they had a no cut policy. And I put C Team and then Jim Boos and Nick Neitzel came up to me and said "Hey, uh, who are you?" and I said "Brian Shaefer?" and they said "Nope, you're Lumpy from Leave it to Beaver because we can't remember anybody's names. And you're going to be on the A Team." And I'm like "Great!" Um, so that's kind of how it started.

So then I played '92 to '96, um, but then back then there wasn't consecutive years rules. Like now you have to - if you start in 2015 you have to play six in a row, you can't take like a four year break and then play five more years or something. So I was able to play in '99, 2000, and 2001 when I was getting my Master's. So there was a break in there, um, but yeah that was my playing career at Oshkosh.

JC: How was the entire playing experience for you? 'Cause I know it can be a lot of traveling and I'm assuming it was for you too.


BS: Yeah, um, first year... I think we were maybe 12-6? We only played conference, we didn't play any tournaments. And then when, um, when a new president came aboard he really made us play a lot. We went to a lot of tournaments. We played maybe 50 matches? So we went to Iowa, we went to Minnesota, um, we weren't in NIVAS yet but, I mean, we just went - Whitewater had a tournament, I mean, we didn't necessarily travel like we do now in terms of flying and stuff. For nationals we would have, but luckily that year it was in Minneapolis. But, um, yeah so then the - we started playing more, but I always make a joke with you guys that you know, we had six in a hotel room. It really was that way, we honestly rarely had hotel rooms. We just made friends with the other colleges and slept on each other's floors and it was kind of like a brotherhood because we were just all new kind of to all of it. (laughs) Um, 27:00but yeah I mean I remember all those years fondly. Um, lots of good memories, lots of good friends. We were not as good as we are now, um, but for us we were just new to it so it was anytime we beat a good team, like Illinois and they were a huge school, we thought it was like the coolest thing ever because lil' old Oshkosh is beating some huge D1 school no matter if it's - no matter if it is only collegiate club, I guess.

JC: Uh, so... I'm assuming that all of the players on this team became very close, and you were good friends with them, and that you spent most of your time with them.

BS: Yup.

JC: So, even outside of volleyball those are the people that you'd be spending most of your time with? And spending all the activities?

BS: Yup.

JC: Do you have favorite places to go in the city of Oshkosh?

BS: Um, for me it was basically on campus.

JC: Okay.


BS: Um, to be honest when I was a sophomore there was a place called Father's Carr's Place 2B. On Tuesday nights they had college night, um, so they had a gym and an arcade and things like that, so me and my friends would go there. A little tidbit about me: I did not drink until I was over the age of 21. Um, so I was not ever into house parties and things like that. Not to say like my friends didn't go to them, um, but I just wasn't a drinker. I still would go and have fun but just not do that thing. So that was a place that I would go with my friends almost every Tuesday.

Um, before the Student Rec and Wellness Center was built intramurals was huge on this campus because there was no place to play for fun on weekdays. Because Kolf was - everybody had class until 2, 3'o'clock, maybe even later. And then there was always practice until 8. And then from 8 to midnight there was tons of leagues, it was packed because, again, no one would be able to play for fun so 29:00we knew we'd be in a coed league on Tuesday. There was actually a legitimately men's league, sixes, yeah, uh, on a Wednesday and then maybe coed on Thursday. Um, and then so we knew we'd be able to play. Because we'd play league. Um, before you - you probably don't know this, or maybe you do when I was recruiting you, but there was a bowling alley in the basement of Reeve.

JC: Really?

BS: Yup, so we'd hung out there a lot. It was a bar so after I was 21 then I went there, you know, had fun. But there - it was like maybe a 12 lane league. Uh, I mean lanes. And there was leagues of bowling.

JC: Really?

BS: Yup. And so that was a place that people hung. There was, I mean, upstairs had a movie theatre. I mean, I was always that person that was playing tennis or sand volleyball. There was a sand volleyball court outside Breese. We played when it was 35 degrees outside! I mean like, I was always doing something. And then I was really into ESPN, like watching college basketball and all that 30:00stuff. So I mean, I was - I was - again, I can't believe I got through college because now looking back I don't think I studied! (laughs) But, um, I definitely, um, embraced being in the dorms. I was part of the Hall Government. It was almost like I was - college was almost like an extension of high school for me. Um, you know I was in Social Work Club, I was in, like, just different things like that.

JC: Yeah.

BS: Um, that just made me enjoy college.

JC: Alright. Uh, so while I was researching, looking through articles and... I've kind of picked up on that you like this already, but, and you've mentioned this earlier with the newspaper, did you do anything like that in the Advance Titan? Were you apart of -

BS: Yeah.

JC: - writing newspapers?

BS: Yup. So, I mean I wasn't on staff, but I would submit all our men's volleyball articles to them. Kind of like we do now.

JC: Yup.


BS: Um, they interview us. I mean, they're still written by those people but they'll go on our website and grab the stats and quotes and things like that which everybody does.

JC: Yeah.

BS: But yeah, I was the person that wrote those articles for that. Um, I actually had a few articles in Volleyball Magazine. Because when we won it in '96 - which is surprising that I forgot that year since (laughs) I was part of that - um, Volleyball Magazine did not mention anything for D2, they just did this whole spread about Sac State (Sacramento State) and how they won, so I wrote a thing saying like "Why did you forget about the women's teams and the men's teams that are D2?" And then they actually printed. So we've been in Volleyball Magazine quite a few times because of our success and just different things like that.

JC: Yeah. I did come across one in the Advance Titan that was very similar to what you said. And it was... it didn't say it was written by you, but I'm going 32:00to assume it was because it said, it was like "Player Coach Captain With Bob Cousy."

BS: Yup.

JC: There was one other person who I can't remember, and then your name was on there and it said "Team Reporter."

BS: Oh, yeah.

JC: And I think the year that it lined up would've put you at like sophomore year, or maybe junior year, but I just thought it was - that was interesting how it lined up with what you just said there.

BS: Yeah, even though we were (?) if we didn't get recognized I usually wrote something to - (laughs) - a letter to the editor saying like "How come you're not recognizing us, especially when we give you the article!"

JC: Exactly!

BS: And now, I mean, I mean I donated money when the Advance Titan was kind of on it's brink of disbanding, and, you know, a significant amount because they've always been kind of that newspaper that wouldn't have to cover us, um, and they'd go out of their way, you know, not only for the women's team, that I obviously coach, but the men's team, too. And we constantly get articles about 33:00our team and also individuals that are doing great things, so.

JC: Uh, so... you played for those four years, and you took a year off then?

BS: Yup.

JC: What'd you do then? Was that when you kind of... spent more time in those other aspects in college that we were talking about?

BS: No, that was, um, yes, I mean like I, you know, I - I was kind of trying to find it, you know, D1 was my thing. And it wasn't, um, Green Bay wasn't good. They're fine now, but when I took over there I was Assistant, I mean, I got $13,000 and I was also Sports Information and that's part of the reason why I wrote so many things, so when I was, um, Marty's Assistant Coach I was also Sports Information Assistant. Um, so I guess that's where I got my writing bug, too. But, um, I knew Green Bay wasn't for me in terms of competitiveness and, 34:00um, salary. (laughs) Um, so, but I was always that person that worked at Pizza Hut. Or ref'd volleyball. Or - so when I had my Master's I still worked at Pizza Hut because I was still Marty's Assistant Coach, I made money through camps and salaried stuff, but it nearly - it wasn't like, great money. And I never have been that guy that's "Well, I have my Master's degree, how dare I deliver a pizza to someone!" You know, I'm pretty humble in that regard, so you know that's kind of funny how, you know, when people would give me attitude about the pizza being late or something like that and you're just the pizza guy and you're like "You know what? I probably have a higher education than you do." So zip it. (laughs) Even though I couldn't say that.

JC: Yeah.

BS: Um, but then when I decided to get my Master's, um, Green Bay didn't have a good Master's program if any. I talked to Marty and she knew me from being that guy that ran the club team or even when I was a freshman I, um, I told her 35:00straight up that I would lie judge or take stats for her and so she knew me really well. She definitely helped me throughout my career and to get the job and stuff like that, so. I just kind of was, kind of tread through life and tried to figure out what the next step would be.

JC: So... I'm pretty sure you took over coaching the men's program when you were a player.

BS: Yup.

JC: Was that your last year?

BS: Um... yeah, I mean like in 2000 Kevin Martin and I both kind of ran the team. '99 was still, at that point, the Booses. Um, but in 2001 I pretty much did everything. Kevin was still on the team, but he kind of -

JC: Stepped down?

BS: Gave over the reigns to me.

JC: Yeah.

BS: Um, you know he still helped and stuff. I wouldn't say like, he just like "Here you go!" Uh, 'cause we were roommates and, um, you know so we'd bounce off ideas and things like that. But, and then yeah. When I graduated and I was done 36:00playing in 2001, I mean I pretty much was like "I'm in town, I'm done with my Master's, still Marty's Assistant Coach, still working at Pizza Hut, ref'ing, blah blah blah." Why wouldn't I want to just coach the guys? And then... you know, and it was - it was difficult at first because I mean I wasn't significantly older than them. You know, I had never had my own team before. So there was a lot of pitfalls, but I mean that's part of the reason why I am the coach I am today because you learn from your mistakes and then you grow on the things you do well.

JC: Because you actually were from that 2000 season all the way until now.

BS: Right.

JC: And you've been the coach ever since, 18 years. I was looking at some stats. You've got... 11 D1 W - which the Wisconsin Volleyball Conference - titles. Out of those 18. At one point you had 8 in a row. Which is pretty incredible.

BS: Thanks.

JC: Uh, you were the 2005 D1 Coach of the Year. Uh, you had all the national 37:00championships that you listed, including the '96 one that you forgot.

BS: (laughs)

JC: Um, and then the NIVAS conference. Uh, I forget how many I saw there, but I wanna say you won like 13 in a row? NIVAS Championships?

BS: Yeah, I would say - I mean that one it probably the most incredible stat out of them all. Besides the national championships. Because that conference has had multiple Division 1 National Champions and - it's a combination of the regular season or the conference tournament title but, I mean, there was times where, you know, somehow we just got it done. And I think it was a source of pride with, um, the players because when you say 13 years that's 4 generations of players.

JC: Yeah! And the only reason I'm tossing all these statistics out - and you won - your winning percentage is like, well over 800 overall. And yeah, WVC isn't 38:00the greatest all time and we know that. But, like you said, NIVAS is a tough conference. And I'm just saying all these statistics to kind of show how incredible of a run it's been for the entire 18 years and just put it into perspective. 'Cause it is incredible. And I want to ask after, kind of, summing all that up, like how important has volleyball been for you since you came in as that kid and you're like "Oh, I saw a poster! I'm gonna go join volleyball and see what this is all about! And, oh, I made the D1 team!" Then, "Oh, I'll keep coaching even after I graduate." It's kind of like the theme where you stuck with it.

BS: Right. Um, I would say it's, um, I wouldn't want my life any other way. Um, you know, I'm very close to my players, um, both female and male. Um, I think 39:00that they know that I'm tough on them at times, hold them accountable, but I would do anything for them. Um, you know, I - I feel like, especially the men's team, which is basically the question you were asking about, um, it's my baby kind of. I didn't start it, but I've been there since the first serve as a player and then coach. You know, so, it's very time consuming but very gratifying. And I'm not just talking about the national championships. Like, just the difference I make in a lot of people's lives is really - the driving force in why I do things. Like, today in fact I got a letter in the mail from Mitch's parents and they - they typed it because they wanted to make sure to get all the words out right. (laughs) Because you know, at the banquet coming up, um, there's going to be a lot of people talking and stuff, so they just wanted to get their - the words on paper, and, you know that's the type of thing that 40:00really drives me and what I do. Um, and there's a lot - there's been some moments where people really need help. And - and on and off the court. And I view myself as a friend, brother, father, you know. Uncle, because I have a niece and nephew. But I mean volleyball related, that's kind of the driving force. So I mean, there's definitely nights where I get home at 9:30 and it's like, make a meal and go right to bed because I'm tired. It's like "Ugh, why am I doing this?" but that's probably only maybe 5% of the time when I think that.

JC: Well, and I guess you could say that going back to your major and, like, the internship that you took at the courthouse where you went through all those experiences that a lot of people wouldn't -

BS: Sure.

JC: At a younger age, and it's coming back and it's helping you in all this. And I guess I would think that it kind of helps propel all your relationships with 41:00your players, like female and male, and just everyone like this.

BS: Right because I mean there was a time where, you know, when that - there was a kid one of my, um, clients through rocks off an overpass on 41 and damaged some cars. And he was doing, um, he was being mean to his younger sister, hitting her and stuff like that, and we needed to get him out of the house. And at first it was kind of nurture him, nurture him, try to, you know, make him change his ways, but then there's always a straw where it's like, nope, we gotta get out of here, or, you know, for a volleyball team you can't be with the program anymore because you're being, um, detrimental to the other players and just the whole concept of team. So they definitely go hand in hand. Um, you know, and I think I as a coach am probably more softie than - (laughs) some of that's going to be, you know, that hard ass that's kicking people off the team 42:00left and right for doing things, I mean, it's definitely - people make mistakes and people grow from them. So I think you're right, um, the social work part - well, starting with psychology. And then social work and just... just being that person that, like Pizza Hut's not a glamorous job. Like referring volleyball? You have to deal with - like, I ref'd for, you know, our the Badger region, so you have to deal with coaches and parents and the bar league where, you know, some guy doesn't understand that that's a double because it's never been called before. (laughs) So I think I've always been kind of a people person in almost everything I've done.

JC: So back to - back to like, your younger coaching ages then. Uh, when did you pick up the women's coaching team? Because you were an assistant on the team from like, '99 to '04?

BS: Yup.

JC: And then did you get hired then right away the next year?


BS: Um, so Marty got sick halfway through 2004.

JC: Okay.

BS: Um, so she coached 16 matches, I believe. Um, it's in the WIC but I'm almost positive it was. Um, but she's fine. I - in my heart kind of believe that she did it on purpose. Because she's - I mean, she had some heart problems, she was definitely that person to be like "Good job girls!" and then like, she'd have to sit down because she had like, she knew things were going on.

JC: Yeah!

BS: Good or bad, when she was mad they happened, when she was happy that the girls won it happened. So anyway, so I took over um, I think with 11 matches left in 2004. And then, so then that was the fall, um, interviewed, put my resume in, and application and all that stuff. Um, it took a really long time to get interviewed. Not me personally, but just for the process to happen it was... kind of annoying, but again back then, um, well I guess, I mean, there was 44:00things that - it's just faster now because of just different programs and Internet and all that, and I mean we obviously had Internet but still. It just goes faster now I think. So I interviewed, I got the job in spring of 2005. And then... right off the bat, like just success happened. And, and I don't think I'm the greatest coach ever, I just think that I work really hard and recruit really good players and players sometimes, especially on the women's side, react, um, kind of because I'm really competitive and they don't like that kind of coach, they're kind of like "Ooo! He's yelling at me for something!"

JC: Yeah.

BS: But I think the closest players I've had realize that I care for them and they get it. So in 2005, which is the fall, we were picked to finish 7th in conference and we won conference. And then I would say, um, then we won three in a row, three conference titles in a row. And in - I mean, I always thought I'd - for the women's side I thought I'd have - it's kind of reversed. On the women's 45:00side I thought I would've already had two or three national championships because of work ethic and my coaching and just thinking that I know a lot about the game. (laughs) And I know I know I have to learn a lot more, and I never thought we'd be where we are for the men's team. So I think it's reversed. Um, and not to say taking 5th with the women and taking 3rd once and winning conference titles and NCAA championship appearances is bad, but yeah, I mean, we've been successful on both sides and they definitely feed off each other.

JC: To sum up those stats that you said... you've got 12 seasons as a coach, going on your 13th now, 6 out of those 12 you've won the Wisconsin Intercollegiate Athletic Conference, so that's half of them. You made seven appearances to the D3 tournament. And you got a 753 winning percentage.

BS: Right.

JC: All good numbers. All good numbers.


BS: Especially in our conference, I would say that's - it's flattering and humbling because, I mean, there's just - if anybody knows anything about the WIAC and athletics in general, I mean, no matter what sport you're talking about, um, you're, a, it's tough. The WIAC is really good.

JC: Yup. So then... back to, uh, back to more of Oshkosh here. It's kind of like, I don't know how to word it exactly, but, uh, like I said before how volleyball is such a big part in how you grew as a person, and Oshkosh was right in the middle of that. Do you have any memories of - of just your men's team on the campus?

BS: Yeah, I mean. I think our men's team, um, I have a ton of memories, um, you 47:00know what - I would always play with the guys, you know, outside Fletcher or outside Halsey. And, and they don't treat me as like, an older guy. Um, I've played multiple tournaments with my players. Friends now, obviously after they graduate you become friends, or I would say you're even friends while you are coaching. Um, your players, um, so those memories definitely have carried off into other events. But, um, on campus, you know even - like right now, I just got done working out with one of my players, Eli. You know? So I mean, those - you know, it's not necessarily an earth-shattering memory. But it's all those little things that kind of shape your life, you know, and - and just the, the 48:00Halsey thing, or playing tennis with somebody, or just goofing around I guess.

JC: Yeah.

BS: Um, to be honest when the guys come into my office and multiple times, since we're talking about the guy's team, they'll just come and talk to me. You know, it's not always 'cause they need something or I'm asking them to come to my office because I'm talking to the captains or something like that. A lot of times it's just they stop by and just say "Hey Lump, what's up?"

JC: Yup. So you have kind of the unique experience with attending Oshkosh and working here on campus. In your opinion, what is the biggest change in the university from like, your freshman year all the way to present day? Because you've basically been here for that 20-something years.

BS: Right. I would say for sure it's the footprint of the campus in terms of 49:00buildings and improvements. When I was - excuse me - when I was in school we didn't have anything new. Um, you know, and then, I believe in 2001 the renovation to Reeve happened. And then -

JC: Is that when the bowling alley got demolished?

BS: Yeah. Yeah, I'm pretty sure. (laughs) I know that's upsetting to you, John. But, um, you know, that - that happened. And then there was renovations to, um, Taylor Hall. I think that was the same year. Or, 2007 I think was Taylor Hall. And then that was when the Student Rec and Wellness Center opened. And that's already been open for 10 years! But it's still state of the art. And um, then Halsey got some remodeling done. And then there's just been a lot of little projects. And then the big ones, too, as they actually tore down my old dorm, Clemans. (laughs) To build Horizon Village.

JC: Yup.

BS: You know, and then we just - those type of things have really. And I wouldn't say, you know, if I was an athlete that got recruited and when I was 50:00freshman if when I walked around would I have been like "Oh, this place is a dump!" I don't mean that. But I really think there's a huge source of pride in our community of the university. And beyond just the Wisconsin borders, um, you know - I like giving campus tours because it's like "Damn, that building looks really cool!"

JC: Yeah.

BS: You know, and - and so, I mean, that's really been the biggest thing. Um, me personally, too, besides the campus, our athletic department right now is top notch. There's wonderfully wonderful hardworking colleagues that make my job really fun. Um, you know, they're competitive, really good, we care about each other, you know. If baseball does well, if softball does well, all the sports. And the - when I first got the job, I don't think it was like that. I think people were on an island and they just wanted their - not everybody, but a few select sports wanted their sport to do well and didn't care about anybody else, and that's not the case anymore. And then, on the men's side, we have a lot of 51:00people looking out for our club team. Within the sports club office, um, you know we had Tony Dirth go to nationals to check things out. But, um, you know we - he came back with a new appreciation of what we do. I mean, there's - it's amazing how many alumni and parents come to nationals and just in general watch our men's team and then when we go to San Antonio this year for women's, three quarters of the parents are going to be there. It really is a Titan family, and I - and that's my biggest thing that I care about is that I think people think that.

JC: So then the other aspect of you being here for those 20+ years, if you could, like, when you're going on these recruiting trips and you - or having the recruiters come here and giving them those tours - what's the one thing that you 52:00say why they should come to Oshkosh?

BS: Um, I would say the number thing is... well there's, I guess, three things that I tell them about Oshkosh. Um, and if you can't see yourself in any of these three aspects, even if it's one out of three you're not sure of, then probably don't go to Oshkosh. Academically, it's gotta be somewhere that you're going to thrive. And, um, you know, if you came in and said "I want Engineering!" Maybe not our new medical stuff and what Peter's doing, um, we do have some newer Engineering programs, but if you came in and said "I want electrical engineering!" I'd be like "Mmm, nope that's not going to work." You know? So, or, architecture. Whatever major we don't have. Um, so if that major - if we have that major, that's the number one thing. And then athletically, do you feel like you're going to fit in? Um, do you think you're going to contribute to our team? Do you think you can buy into our system and get better, 53:00and have some fun along the way and, um, be able to do the one - or, number one, which is academics. Those two things. And number three is socially. And I'm not talking about house parties and drinking, I'm talking about what I did. I loved going to Oshkosh, drinking was not part of my thing, but I enjoyed every minute of it on campus. And if you can get those three things, you're going to thrive. I've said that before, but you're really going to thrive and survive. And those are the things that I look for.

Um, on the personal side of things what I tell them is if you don't like sarcasm, see you later. (laughs) Because my sense of humor is, I think pretty cool. (laughs) And, uh, but I'm very sarcastic. I'm hard nosed at times, but I'm, I think, fun loving. And um, you know, if they wanna go to a program that's gonna have a head coach that's gonna look out for them from day one, come here. 54:00And we've proven time and time again that we can be successful on the court as well.

JC: Well, I think that kind of summarizes the whole community from Oshkosh from what I've seen. I think that's kind of what you were getting at. So. Uh, that's probably gonna be it here for this interview.

BS: Okay.

JC: Thank you very much. I enjoyed your time.

BS: Thank you for going into the Archives and (laughs).

JC: I did the extensive research on you for that. Uh, and then I'll make sure I get out a copy of the interview.

BS: Okay.

JC: Thank you for very much.

BS: Awesome.

Search This Transcript
Search Clear