LUKE HAGEN: Wesleyan is lucky to have AndersonThe Dakota Wesleyan athletic department doesn’t have many elite programs. The school — which competes in the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics — has only two programs that have competed at the national level on an annual basis in recent years.
By: Luke Hagen, The Daily Republic
The Dakota Wesleyan athletic department doesn’t have many elite programs.
The school — which competes in the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics — has only two programs that have competed at the national level on an annual basis in recent years.
The men’s basketball team has made the national tournament each year since 2007, giving it an elite status.
But DWU golf coach Adam Anderson has built an even stronger program with the women’s golf team, which recently qualified for its eighth straight national tournament. Anderson has been at the helm the last six years.
The coach has a strong passion for the game, and he’s one of the best recruiters at DWU. He’s built an elite program that, for as long as he’s around, will probably stay elite.
“He’s done a remarkable job,” Dakota Wesleyan Athletic Director Curt Hart said of Anderson. “He gets the most out of those kids and has them well-prepared.”
Dakota Wesleyan is the northern-most Great Plains Athletic Conference university in the 12-team conference, and yet Anderson’s teams are always around the top of the standings.
Despite fighting late-spring snow showers, strong winds and year-round cooler temperatures, the DWU women have won the conference in five of Anderson’s six years with the school. Anderson, a Plankinton native, also has been named the conference’s coach of the year four times and has helped the men’s team to one conference title and two national tournament appearances.
A former member of the Notre Dame golf team, Anderson said much of his success has come from his recruiting abilities. Because DWU is an NAIA school, there are almost no rules when it comes to recruiting. Anderson said he takes full advantage of that.
“I try to give (the athletes) a little feel of what it would be like for me to be their coach before I actually am,” said Anderson, who was an all-Big East Conference golfer his junior year with the Fighting Irish.
Besides recruiting local talent, he’s also involved with an international recruiting agency called Prodream USA, a golf-specific recruiting agency based in Glascow, Scotland.
Anderson has had several foreign-born players on his men’s and women’s teams, but said there’s nothing like homegrown talent.
“You never want to go away from having a core group of South Dakota kids, because that’s the glue that’s going to hold your team together,” Anderson said. “They know what to expect with our weather patterns in the fall and spring.”
Dani Bellet, a junior on the women’s team, won her third consecutive GPAC golfer-of-the-year award this spring. Anderson said Bellet, a Lead native, is the best recruit he’s ever landed. This year, she took first in 11 of the 14 tournaments Dakota Wesleyan entered.
Bellet attributes much of her success to Anderson.
She said he sets strong offseason workout programs to keep the team in golf mode year round.
In preparation for the national tournament, which runs May 17-21 in Greeneville, Tenn., Anderson has the team practicing twice daily. His team’s highest finish at the national tournament was 17th in 2007 and 2008.
“He’s a good coach in that he sets up competitive tournaments farther south early in the spring and that helps us out a lot,” said Bellet, who took first place in DWU’s late-March tournament in Batesville, Ark., which was the team’s first spring competition.
When asked whether or not other colleges have offered him head coaching positions, Anderson said there have been “a couple” interested. But he said he likes South Dakota and being near his hometown too much to leave. That is, unless the perfect job opportunity arises, he said.
Anderson and his wife, Heather, also own a home in Mitchell.
“I’m not saying that couldn’t ever happen,” he said, “but I don’t have any intentions of leaving.”
Dakota Wesleyan is very lucky to have Anderson leading its men’s and women’s golf programs. He’s accomplished an amazing feat in getting the women’s team to the national tournament six years in a row, and he’s shown he’s capable of recruiting some of the best talent South Dakota has to offer.
The university has a gem of a coach in Anderson and should be proud of it.