Cullen Maksimowski, LSSULakers.com
SAULT STE. MARIE, Mich.—Lake Superior State University has announced the signing of women's volleyball coach Dave Schmidlin to a four-year contract extension commencing at the end of the 2017-18 academic calendar.
Schmidlin, a vastly experienced and highly respected figure throughout the collegiate volleyball community, was named the eighth head coach in school history last March and was tasked with a full-scale rebuild of a Laker volleyball program.
"Lake State was very fortunate to attract a coach with the experience, depth of understanding, and maturity of Dave Schmidlin." said Lake Superior State President, Dr. Peter Mitchell. "Having attended practice as well as games, I've witnessed firsthand how Dave will build a championship caliber team through insightful mentoring and effective leadership. In addition to being an excellent coach, Dave will a valuable asset for the entire athletics program at LSSU."
Schmidlin's extension not only provides stability to the volleyball program, but follows the trend of coaching staff stability throughout the entire athletics department. With the new deal, Schmidlin joins Damon Whitten (hockey), Steve Hettinga (men's basketball) and Brandon Lokken (women's basketball) as LSSU head coaches to sign multi-year extensions this year under first-year Director of Athletics, Dr. David Paitson.
"First off, I have to thank Dr. Paitson and Dr. Mitchell for the opportunity to lead this program for the next four years," said Schmidlin. "Without their leadership, vision and ability to shift the culture within the athletic department and university, these things don't happen.
"This contract extension sends a message to our current players, parents, alumni and future recruits that the administration is ready to commit to having a truly successful volleyball program at Lake State."
A consistent presence on the bench is something the LSSU volleyball program has been lacking in recent years having endured four head coaching changes since 2012. The last Lakers winning season came in 2001 (16-14).
"The 2018 and 2019 graduating classes have had four head coaches," Schmidlin said. "It must have been extremely difficult for the players to feel that anyone really cared about the success of the program.
"Now, the players know there will be someone here for the long-haul. This spring, we have seen a significant culture shift within the program. I believe this has been possible because I have tried to let them know that I was going to stick around, even before the subject of a contract extension was discussed. This extension reaffirms the message I've been sending to the team."
With a precise mission to lay the foundation for the future during his first season, Schmidlin got to work on the recruiting trail using his expansive network to sign six new student athletes to National Letters of Intent during the fall signing period.
In total, 9-10 new student-athletes will be brought to campus next season to complete recruiting class that has been considered one of the strongest in the Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference this year.
"We have a top-notch educational institution that is unique, not just in location, but in what we have to offer as a public institution of higher learning," said Schmidlin. "I've learned that the student-athletes I've inherited truly care about the success of this program, both in the classroom and on the court and are hungry to learn and be led.
"I've learned that there are talented high school volleyball players in Michigan and the surrounding states that believe Lake State is a great fit. We will have 9-10 new faces on the roster next year and all of them will have an impact on this program at some point in their playing career. I am extremely optimistic that the we can get this program headed in the right direction."
Prior to his arrival at Lake State, Schmidlin served as the head coach of the men's and women's volleyball teams at fellow NCAA Division II member Lees-McRae College in Banner Elk, N.C. for four seasons (2013-16). In the 2014 season at Lees-McRae, Schmidlin directed the women's team to a 19-10 overall record and a semifinal appearance in the Conference Carolinas Tournament.
Before Lees-McRae, Schmidlin enjoyed a highly successful 2012 season as the varsity boys' volleyball head coach at Catholic Memorial High School in Waukesha, Wis., where he guided CMHS to a 23-9 overall mark and a state tournament quarterfinal-round berth en route to being recognized as the 2012 Milwaukee Journal Sentinel Area Coach of the Year.
From 2003-06, Schmidlin served as the head coach for NCAA Division I Oakland University in Rochester, Mich. During his four-year tenure with the Golden Grizzlies, 25 of his student-athletes earned All-Conference Academic honors while maintaining a 3.3 Team GPA.
"Coach Schmidlin brings a wealth of experience and a steady presence to the LSSU Volleyball program," said Director of Athletics, Dr. David Paitson. "Dave's track record of success both on the court and in the classroom reflect the high expectations we are setting for the volleyball program at Lake State.
"His strong ties to USA Volleyball and relationships within the volleyball community in the state of Michigan are assets that will help us reestablish a winning program."
In just one year, Schmidlin's coaching philosophy and commitment to changing the culture of Lake State volleyball is something that has resonated with the team, specifically the upperclassman.
"(Coach Schmidlin) has only been here one year, but has made so many changes to Lake State volleyball's culture and the way it functions," said junior libero, Paige Gotham. "His coaching is more than just on the court. He gives us the tools we need to be successful and independent."
Gotham along with outside hitter Morgan Kelly, defensive specialist Mikala Williams and setter Lauren Lukasik will comprise Schmidlin's incoming senior leadership core and will be tasked with helping foster the new era of Laker volleyball.
"(Coach Schmidlin's extension) shows his commitment to us and allows us to commit to him," junior outside hitter Morgan Kelly said. "He has impacted Lake State volleyball in one year and I am eager to see what he has in store for us in the future. We're lucky to have a coach as committed as Dave."