Written by Erin Dunne, Athletics Media Relations Student Intern

While a student-athlete at any college, one will experience the extreme pride of representing his or her school and may bask in the school spirit associated with his or her particular team. While at school, student-athletes follow traditions and adhere to the values of their sports teams, instilled into them by the legacy of that particular team.  These traditions can range from anything to specific drills, to pregame rituals, to team mottos.

At the University of Delaware, where the school spirit is strong and the students take extreme pride in being Blue Hens, it is no wonder that the athletics coaching staff is brimming with alumni who returned to take their pride in Delaware and make it a career, in particular as a head coach.

This year’s coaching staff boasts six standout head coaches who previously attended Delaware as student-athletes and are now instructing players who stood in their shoes a variety of years ago.  Over the years, these notable alumni have led their teams to various level of success, many mimicking the success they had while attending the University of Delaware.

The longest standing alumni coach and first head coach of the women’s soccer team in history, Scott Grzenda has served at the school where he once played for 25 years. As a student-athlete on the men’s soccer team and graduate of the class of 1987, Grzenda was a three-time All-East Conference selection and received regional All-American honors.

While he still ranks on Delaware’s all-time Top 10 list for goals scored and points, he has turned his soccer abilities to the coaching end of the game. After a stint at Lynchburg College as an assistant coach, he came to pioneer a women’s soccer program at Delaware, bringing with him the same values and goals he was taught here.

As far as practice goes, Grzenda states, “I still do a lot of work in grids and in defensive work because as players that’s what we did.”

Though he remarks that the game of soccer has changed immensely, facility-wise and emphasis on the sport itself, the women’s drive to succeed and allegiance to their team is the same as when he attended Delaware. The desire of the team to win and the obvious dedication of the coach, after almost 25 years, places emphasis on the longstanding commitment Delaware student-athletes have to success in every sport.

Alongside Grzenda, Laura Travis exists as one of the longest serving alumni coaches at the University of Delaware, now in her 23rd season leading the women’s tennis team and previously guiding the men’s squad for 21 years. Travis, the former Laura Leroy, accepted the position at Delaware as head coach just three years after graduation and has since led her teams to many successes over the past 23 years, including a combined record of 475-312.

While a student-athlete at Delaware, Travis stood out for her skills as a player, earning a four-year title as Most Valuable Player, four-time East Coast Conference champion in singles and doubles and two East Coast Conference team titles.

“The first day of tennis tryouts, at age 10, I knew, ‘this was it, this is what I want to do,’” mentioned Travis.  “I am beyond grateful that I have been able to take that passion and turn it into a career.”

Following the traditions of Delaware tennis, Travis states, “We use some of the same drills and try to emulate the same standards of professionalism,” that she was taught while a player at Delaware.

Though Travis embraces the value and school spirit that has always been present at Delaware, she notes, “It is fun to be a part of the change and growth of tennis.”

Serving as baseball’s head coach for 15 years, Jim Sherman has made noteworthy contributions to the team’s overall success by leading the Blue Hens to conference tournament play nine times, 10 winning seasons and a coaching record of 417-348. He is noted as one of the top hitting instructors at the collegiate level, which leads his team to the same aggression at the plate that he held while a player at Delaware.

A graduate of the class of 1982 and resident of New Castle, Sherman claims he was “born and raised a Blue Hen” and has been tied to the community for many years, beginning as a fan of UD, then a student-athlete, and now, head coach. Sherman has been inducted into both the University of Delaware Athletics Hall of Fame in 2009 and the UD Baseball Hall of Fame in 2008 for his noteworthy accomplishments as a former player and coach.

Aside from the accomplishments he and his teams made on the field, he states that the neatest part about it is “the relationship you build with players is ongoing and lasts forever.”

The UD men’s golf team also benefits from an alumni head coach in Mike Keogh, who has been in his position for 13 years.

In his tenure as a Blue Hens student-athlete, Keogh was a letter winner and noteworthy athlete who posted an 11-7 dual record with his squad. On the course, he has rallied his teams through many successes; including top five finishes in 105 tournaments and coached several golfers towards professional play.

Not only this, but Keogh aims to keep the values instilled in those who taught him the game of golf alive in the players he coaches today. He holds his team to the same standards and values like conducting oneself on the golf course and ensuring that his team is gracious towards their hosts, demonstrating the traditions of Delaware golf.

Keogh states that some of the best parts of coaching are “being able to keep my father’s memory alive on the golf course, along with what he learned from former coach Scotty Duncan, and being able to do that with the kids I coach today.”

Head coach of the Delaware women’s lacrosse program for the past five years, Kateri Linville has certainly made her mark in her time not only as a coach, but also as a student-athlete with the Blue Hens.

In her tenure as a student-athlete here, Linville was a three-year letter winner and was honored on Intercollegiate Women’s Lacrosse Coaches Association National Academic Honor Roll. After a brief stint as an assistant coach at Notre Dame, she returned to her alma mater, where she has led her teams to two consecutive winning seasons, a total of 33 victories, and like herself, has helped guide the team intellectually as well.  Linville sets academic standards that have allowed her team to have the highest GPA in the last seven years and pushes them to become involved in their community.

Linville states that “the stars aligned” in returning to her alma mater and “it was a great step professionally to be in a place where we could compete at a national level in conference.”

Tradition plays an important part in her position at a Delaware, since she places an emphasis on academic success to rival her own and gets her athletes involved into the B+ Foundation and UDance through adopting a B+ Hero for the team to sponsor.

 “It’s the little moments that make Delaware special, whether it brings back memories or makes new ones,” Linville comments.

 She shares that one of the most vital factors to her decision to serve as head coach is “being around young people who have so much ahead of them and helping them get to their future,” a statement that clearly highlights what Delaware lacrosse did for her, as it led her to a career of coaching.

The most recent student-athlete turned coach, Chris Hincker, is amidst his first year as the men’s tennis head coach. Hincker previously served as an assistant coach to Travis after graduation in 2011 prior to rejoining the squad this past August.

While a student-athlete at Delaware, Hincker served as captain and standout player, with a record of 69-63 in career singles, which is good for third in the school’s history.

Hincker states that he looks forward to “moving the team along positively and moving up the level of play.”

The connections he bears with Delaware go beyond his own game on the courts at UD; he also developed into the role from individual coach to head coach with one of his players, Mike Furr, whom he coached at a local country club and now with the Blue Hens.

“I think that a connection like mine and Mike’s is helpful to ease the transition for me coming to the team, as well as for the team,” stated Hincker.

As a young coach, he has many opportunities to create values and traditions of his own, while sharing some of the things he was taught in his college career.

“It is great to be here, I really enjoy being the head coach, and I look forward to sticking around for a while,” Hincker concluded.

The connection to their alma mater and the desire for their teams to succeed these coaches hold highlights the school spirit present at Delaware.

“There are so many little things you loved as a student here, simple joys we all have, like walking through campus on a fall day to when we are walking to the stadium on game day,” Linville exclaimed.

As head coaches, they are able to experience these special moments every day, like they did while students here. The traditions and values that this school and athletics program has are truly unique, as proven by the amount of alumni who return to coach and carry on the legacy of their experience in Delaware Athletics.

“For many alumni, who come back, it’s everything. It’s where your roots are, where you’re embedded as a young man or woman,” Sherman mentioned.

For these coaches, they followed the path and came right back to where they began: Delaware.