More than just coaches

by Matt Bower

Coaching and teaching simultaneously can be difficult to balance with leisure activities and quality family time, but Simpson’s coaches often do all of these things. Many of them even take on responsibilities outside of Simpson and their families.

When men’s and women’s tennis coach Bob Nutgrass first came to Simpson, he wasn’t a coach at all. Nutgrass began his Simpson experience as a class instructor and has been teaching and moving up the ranks over the course of 15 years.

In addition to teaching several classes and coaching the Simpson tennis teams, Nutgrass serves as the head of the Physical Education Department.

Nutgrass’ coaching career at Simpson began in 1990 when the assistant coaching position for men’s basketball became available. Nutgrass took the position and continued as assistant coach for six seasons.

“I saw it as a new opportunity for me,” Nutgrass said. “I had never done recruiting before and had never coached at the collegiate level, so it was a good opportunity for me to experience some new things.”

After spending some time with the basketball team, Nutgrass became the assistant athletic director. The stint as assistant athletic director lasted for three years, and Nutgrass remained with the basketball team for two of those three years.

When Nutgrass left the basketball team he moved once again to become the head of Simpson’s tennis program.

“I played tennis and basketball in college,” Nutgrass said. “I really enjoyed the game of tennis though, so when the position to coach became available, I went for it.”

Nutgrass is currently in his eighth season as the Storm tennis coach, and he said a lot of his time is spent in the office going over recruiting schedules and making phone calls.

“It’s difficult to balance because you might be in a situation where you have to get to a class in 15 minutes, but a student comes in to see you about a sport,” Nutgrass said. “You can end up spending more time with athletes than you do in the classroom teaching.”

As the head of the Physical Education Department, Nutgrass said it can be frustrating that all instructors and faculty members are involved with coaching, which may limit how much time they spend in the classroom teaching.

“Kids pay a lot of money to come here and sometimes there is a push-pull issue,” Nutgrass said. “Sometimes there just aren’t enough hours in the day to get everything done.”

Women’s swimming coach Mark Corley can relate to Nutgrass. Corley is involved outside of Simpson as the assistant coach and head age coach for the Des Moines Swimming Federation.

“Family time is real tough,” Corley said. “Most nights during the winter, I am home around 9:15 and usually every weekend I have either a college or federation meet to attend.”

The federation is a parent-owned organization and competitive swim team that is made up of members in kindergarten through college.

Corley has been coaching full time since 1988 and got involved with the federation because he used to coach for the organization in Cedar Falls.

Corley coaches year-round for the federation in two separate seasons, one in the winter and one in the summer. Corley said the federation takes a three-week break in August as well as one to two weeks off in March, otherwise it’s in session.

Even though coaches at Simpson have a lot of responsibility, like Nutgrass and Corley, they remain undaunted. At times it may be challenging to balance everything in their lives, but in general they are happy to coach and teach as well as to provide their services elsewhere.