Coaches Eric Keller, wrestling, and Dick Peth, men’s basketball, have had long and successful careers at Wartburg College. Keller has been with the wrestling program for nearly 17 years, and Peth recently completed his 20th season.
However, each coach attributes their success to their environment and those around them.
“The opportunity to coach at a college that has such a good support system and a great tradition is due to the success Lewis “Buzz” Levick achieved duringhis career,” Peth said. “We consider Coach Levick a great friend and ambassador to our basketball program.”
Before coming to Wartburg, Peth coached at the University of Denver for 12 seasons, eventually becoming their all-time winningest coach in the 100-year-old program. He has since lead the Wartburg men’s basketball team to the NCAA Sweet 16 last season, ending with 21 wins, the most the program has had since 2005.
Keller and the wrestling team also went to the NCAA tournament and attained their 13th national championship. He said no one has achievements like this by doing things on their own, it is done with help either from the institution or the athletes.
“It’s not about me or the other coaches. It’s about our guys,” Keller said. “That’s how we approach everything we do.”
“Success involves a tradition of excellence and a consistent mindset involving all of our former Wartburg players and coaches,” Peth said. “I also feel fortunate to have played for accomplished coaches as a former collegiate player and to have had great mentors as I began the coaching profession.”
Keller and Peth agreed the hardest aspect of coaching is changing the way their players think and constantly adjusting to the newer styles of play.
“One of the great things about coaching is that there’s a different challenge every single day,” Keller said.
Peth agreed that things are always changing within each sport, including the “trickle down” effect from the NBA to college basketball. He said there are more one and two man isolations than ever before which places more pressure on the defense.
However, Peth said due to the tradition of success within Wartburg athletics, the basketball team’s preparation for each season remains the same.
“Our greater accomplishments for this past year are a combination of many factors – passion, mental focus, practice, determination and consistent efforts to offer the best chance to be successful on game days.”
“We look to continue to build off the successes our team achieved this year. We graduated four outstanding seniors, however, we have a great nucleus returning for next season.”