When Cory Schwartz entered his final year of school at the University of New Hampshire, he had no idea that he would spend over three decades in Durham after his graduation in 1982.
The 2014/2015 season will mark Schwartz’s 33rd year with the Wildcats, where he has led his team to 24 top-ten places at the NCAA Championships as head coach.
In 1981, Schwartz was unsure where life after college would take him. In fact, he had never really considered coaching until the head coach at the time, Buzz Davis, asked him to be his assistant during his fifth year of school. Davis acted as the head of the women’s team and Schwartz did most of the heavy lifting for the men’s team.
The following year, Davis left the position and Schwartz took over as head coach. The rest is history.
Looking back at his coaching career, Schwartz, 55, says that several moments stand out to him.
One such moment is when his team earned its an all-American honor with Mike Hussey in 1985. Hussey along with several other skiers at the time helped the New Hampshire men’s program rival that of the top eastern-ski programs at the time, namely Vermont and Dartmouth.
“Those guys were competing against the powerhouse of that time which was Vermont,” Schwartz said. “The first time we beat Vermont, it was one of those special days that you remember.”
Another fond memory from his 33 years of coaching came in 2013 when senior Anya Bean earned an all-American honor at the NCAA Championships in Middlebury, Vt.
While her placement was exciting for Schwartz, the moment was even more special because of the personal relationship he had developed with the New Hampshire skier. Bean, whose father had skied with Schwartz on the New Hampshire team some 30 years before, had suffered the loss of her mother the previous year.
“Just to see her finish that race and hug her dad was one of those moments that you are just going to remember for a long time,” Schwartz said.
When Bean’s mother, Jennifer Caldwell, passed away after a long battle with cancer in the winter of 2012, the UNH skiers were racing at Senior Nationals in Rumford, Maine. Schwartz drove the team down to Caldwell’s funeral to join Bean, despite the fact that they were racing the next day.
“That meant so much to me,” Bean said.
According to Bean, Schwartz creates a team dynamic that fosters growth as both a skier and as a person.
“The camaraderie that UNH establishes is unlike any other team,” she explained. “Everyone is really close and Cory does a really good job of creating that dynamic.”
Schwartz explained he likes to keep a close relationship with all his athletes and described himself as a hands-on coach. According to Schwartz, that’s what has kept him going for the past three decades.
“I think that’s what keeps me interested in coaching,” he said. “I can see that growth between myself and the athletes, whether it’s while they are on campus as an athlete or afterwards, it is fun to continue that relationship.”
He added that the uniqueness and camaraderie of the college ski community has helped make his time there incredibly rewarding.
“If you go to other athletic events, whether it is soccer lacrosse or football, I don’t think you see anything else like after a ski race,” he said. “Everyone puts on a bib and does their best job to represent their school and then afterwards it’s amazing to see the camaraderie between the teams and athletes. It’s just a fun atmosphere to be in. I think that’s what make’s all us older coaches young – we live of the energy of our skiers.”
As he gets older he knows that one day he’ll need to give the head-coaching reins to someone else, but according to Schwartz that day isn’t coming anytime soon.
“If I can continue to relate to the athletes and I can continue to enjoy the college competition atmosphere, I’ll keep on going,” he said. “Until I look in the mirror and say, ‘Hey it’s time to hand this off to someone younger.’ ”
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Lander Karath is FasterSkier's Associate Editor from Bozeman, Montana and a Bridger Ski Foundation alumnus. Between his studies at Middlebury College in Vermont, he is an outdoor enthusiast and a political junkie.
October 6, 2014 at 4:06 pm
I remember the first ski camp I hosted for MASS, where Cory, Mike Gallagher and Cami Thompson helped us establish a state camp for years to come. Cory is one of the all time “great guys” of Nordic Skiing and always willing to share ideas and help out fellow skiers and coaches no matter who they skied for. I am personally indebted to him for his help, along with the above mentioned coaches, and guidance through my coaching tenure with the Central MASS Nordic Ski Team and the Cambridge Union Junior Nordic Team. Thanks Cory and congrats on your run and I wish you continued success!