WALLA WALLA, Wash. – Calisa Schouweiler, a young coaching professional whose
background includes a research stint at the Norwegian Olympic Training
Center in Oslo, is the new men's and women's Nordic ski coach at Whitman
Schouweiler replaces Nathan Alsobrook, who was recently named the new Nordic
coach at his alma mater, Bowdoin College in Brunswick, Maine.
Schouweiler earned her bachelor's degree in exercise science in 2003 at
Minnesota's Saint Cloud State University, where she served as captain of the
Nordic ski team as a junior and senior. She completed her master's degree in
sports training and exercise physiology in 2006 at Saint Cloud. Her previous
coaching experience includes one season (2004-05) as an assistant with the
Nordic teams at Saint John's University and College of Saint Benedict.
“Calisa is an exceedingly talented young coach who has much to offer in
terms of her exercise science research and how that relates to coaching and
helping young athletes train for competition in the endurance sports,”
Whitman director of athletics Dean Snider said. “We are very pleased with
the opportunity to put our Nordic ski program in her hands. Her experience
in the collegiate and international ski arenas will serve her well as she
leads our program forward.”
Whitman is the only NCAA Div. III school in the western U.S. that competes
in NCAA skiing. As part of the Rocky Mountain Intercollegiate Ski
Association, Whitman's Nordic and alpine teams compete during the regular
season against seven NCAA Div. I schools and two NCAA Div. II schools.
Whitman's Devon Spika, a Nordic skier, capped her first college season last
winter by qualifying for the NCAA National Championships.
As an undergraduate research assistant, Schouweiler spent six months
(August-December 2001) in Norway, dividing her time between the Olympic
Training Center and the Department of Physical Education at the Norwegian
School of Sport Sciences. After completing her bachelor's degree in 2003,
she spent six months as a research assistant at the University of
Maastricht's Department of Movement Science in the Netherlands.
Schouweiler, who was raised in northern Wisconsin, held research positions
at the University of Wisconsin for the past two years. She was a research
coordinator at the UW School of Medicine and Public Health from August 2005
through October 2006. She them moved into a project coordinator's position
at the UW Department of Kinesiology.
“I've been keeping my eyes open for a head coaching position in Nordic
skiing, and I'm thrilled that Whitman has given me this opportunity,”
Schouweiler said. “When I look back on my experiences, I know that I have
been the happiest when I was coaching and teaching.”
While coaching the teams at Saint John's and the College of Saint Benedict,
Schouweiler said, “I had to remind myself often that I was getting paid to
what I love to do. I am eager to share what I have learned over the years
with a new group of athletes at Whitman. It is my ultimate hope that Whitman
skiers will work hard and reach their goals in all areas of their college
careers, and that they will leave college wanting to ski for the rest of
During her 2002 internship at the Norwegian Olympic Training Center,
Schouweiler helped study the effects of moderate altitude on endurance
performance in elite female Nordic skiers. That research, the first of its
kind, paid dividends when Norwegian Olympians competed at altitude at the
2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City.
Schouweiler recalls having “watched with tears in my eyes” as Norway's Bente
Skari stepped to the podium at the Utah Games to receive her gold medal. “I
knew her personal struggles … her difficulty performing at altitude, and
from my work with her and other athletes at the Norwegian Olympic Training
Center, I felt I was part of their success. Helping athletes reach their
full potential is what motivates me.”
While at the Olympic Training Center, Schouweiler also enjoyed opportunities
to work on a number of projects involving athletes in such sports as
cycling, swimming and speedskating.
Schouweiler plans to combine her research background in exercise science
with a willingness to tailor training programs to fit the needs and goals of
individual athletes. “Some coaches use training methods that worked for them
rather than look at each athlete's individual strengths and weaknesses,” she
said. “I think each athlete needs to train a little bit differently, and I
feel I have the background to help each athlete reach their short- and
long-term goals in athletics, academics and life.”
Schouweiler is a graduate of Tomahawk (Wisc.) High School, where she ran
both cross country and track. “Our cross country team was very successful,
and it still is,” she said. “We went to state all four years I was there. It
was fun to be part of a team that was successful.” In track, she twice
advanced to the state championships as part of the 3,200-meter relay team.
Because Tomahawk High did not have a ski team, she skied instead for nearby
Lakeland High in Minocqua, Wisc. She also was an avid mountain bike racer
for a time.
For Schouweiler, outdoor sports was a family affair. Her father Mark coached
a number of youth sports, including a hockey team on which she played with
her brother Chad. While she soon settled on Nordic skiing as her favorite
sport, her brother eventually took up dogsled racing and competed in the
Schouweiler's mother Martha is the outdoor adventure series coordinator at
Nicolet College in Rhinelander, Wisc. “I was lucky enough to grow up with
resources to dabble in any outdoor sport imaginable,” she said.