Taking on double duty

Three Ferris coaches show love for coaching both men’s and women’s programs

One job is hard enough, but for three Ferris head coaches, the workload is doubled.

These coaches are head tennis coach Mark Doren, head cross country and track and field coach Jared Kelsh and head golf coach Kyle Wittenbach. All three coaches spend countless hours with both men’s and women’s teams.

“It makes us more of an overall program versus a men’s and women’s team with two separate coaches. The interaction and bond between the teams and the way they support each other is key to success,” Kelsh said. “You have to find what motivates each individual to do their best, while not compromising the goals of each team. The general outline can be the same but the tone and way you handle the women’s team versus the men’s team is usually significantly different.”

With the challenges and rewards of coaching both teams, each coach exclaimed honor to coach both teams and love to see their players succeed not only on the field but in the classroom.

“I’m just as concerned about what they do in the classroom, community and their future as I am what they do on the court,” Doren said. “I am lucky enough to have some amazing young adults that are going to do great things in the future and I’m ecstatic that I get to be part of their path.”

All three coaches tell their teams they are student athletes, and the work they do in the classroom is just as important as the work they put in on the eld. Wittenbach believes his biggest reward is seeing all his players accomplish their goals as well as have them make good decisions in their social, academic and athletic lives.

Wittenbach sees the two golf teams as one program and encourages that mentality among his golfers. He also pushes his golfers to take some control and lead the program.

“I’ve tried to develop a framework/schedule for both programs where the student athletes have a share of that responsibility,” Wittenbach said. “We are one program, two teams. We do a lot together: training, practicing, fundraising. A good analogy would be that they drive the bus and I occasionally give directions. It’s their program.”

The biggest challenges the coaches face are time commitment and time management between the two teams. All the coaches expressed the difficulty in dividing their attention equally between the two teams. Another challenge Wittenbach said he has is spending time away from his family because of being on the road most of the year.

Doren said his biggest challenge is never letting his players see him get tired and adapting to each player’s own needs.

“The only disadvantage could be is if one team feels I focus to much on the other team, but my goal is to make sure that never happens,” Doren said.

Of course, with all the challenges, there are just as many rewards. All coaches want what is best for their players and want to see every player strive and reach for the stars. Kelsh’s biggest reward of coaching is seeing his players reach not only their personal goals but the team’s goals as well. All coaches stay busy with the responsibilities of both teams, but for Doren, spending time with his teams is the best part.

“The biggest reward for me is having both my teams respect each other, and it makes my life easier when both are each other’s biggest supporters,” Doren said. “Coaching both teams allows me to always be either on the court, in the van traveling to matches [or] eating dinner with the team. Those are the moments that I live for.”