Wiens brings worldly knowledge to collegiate squash

by Marjorie Chelius | 2/15/11 11:00pm

During First-Year Orientation for the Class of 2011, men's squash team co-captain Mike Lewis '11 thought coach Hansi Wiens was "crazy" after Wiens who was then an assistant coach but became head coach in 2008 told Lewis to hop around on one foot for approximately an hour during his first team practice, not even allowing him to hit a ball.

The drill was intended to convey that movement is crucial in squash, and by the end of the session Lewis understood Wiens' great coaching skills, Lewis said. Under Wiens' leadership, the men's and women's teams have maintained their standing as two of the best teams in the country and have recruited a number of talented players over the past several years.

Despite his accomplishments, Wiens said his decision to join the Big Green coaching staff was a "coincidence."

Wiens said that after visiting friend and former assistant coach Glen Wilson at the College in 2007, he fell in love with the Dartmouth campus. When an assistant coaching position for the Big Green opened later that year, Wiens was hired, and became head coach the following season.

"I just hope that I get to keep coaching because this is really what I want to do," Wiens said. "To have a chance to be a college coach, it's so much better than coaching a club it's an exceptional experience. I'm happy and I would love to do this as long as I can."

Wiens who managed and coached club teams in Spain and Germany, his home country, prior to arriving at Dartmouth has tremendously impacted the squash program. Wiens upped the team's intensity by adding practices and demanding higher fitness levels for his players, according to team members interviewed by The Dartmouth. Wiens has also connected with players on a personal level, women's team member Allie Bradford '12 said.

"He just makes practice fun a lot of the times," Bradford said. "You are able to tell him what is really going on with your life and your game he really does want to get to know us as a person, which I think is pretty rare."

Valeria Wiens '13, a women's team member and Hansi Wiens' wife, said she remembers a speech Wiens gave before a match when he told players they should not take themselves "too seriously" and should keep the game in perspective.

"He has a great sense of humor his laugh fills the room," women's team captain Hannah Conant '11 said. "I think he always brings a form of intensity and seriousness in practice, but you can also turn to him for a joke or a funny comment or to cheer you up. That's something I really appreciate about him."

Wiens' in-depth knowledge of the sport has also helped him teach players how to improve their skills. Before joining Dartmouth's coaching staff, Wiens enjoyed a successful professional playing career. He reached the number eight position in the world and played for leagues in England, Germany, Austria and the Netherlands.

"He relates to players really well because he was such an accomplished player," Lewis said. "He really understands what the player is going through during matches and during training, and because he relates so well he can coach us much more effectively."

Wiens, who speaks four languages, said he appreciates the opportunities his playing career created.

"My experience as a player was great," he said. "I got to know a lot of different cultures and I don't regret [the experience] at all."

The time spent traveling taught Wiens life lessons beyond those he learned on the squash court, he said. Wiens recounted one night when he was 21 years old and was traveling alone in Asia for a seven-week tournament. Wiens was unable to find a hotel room for his first night and had to sleep outside.

"I didn't tell my mother that story for a long time," he said, laughing.

Players said they have noticed significant improvements in the team during Wiens' time at Dartmouth.

"He's really brought this program to a new level and his commitment to it is unmatched as far as any coaches I've seen," Lewis said. "He makes you really want to work hard for Dartmouth's squash program, and to put everything out that you have."

The women's squash team will next play in the Howe Cup, the collegiate women's team squash championships, from Feb. 18 to Feb. 20. The men's team will play in the College Squash Association Championships from Feb. 25 to Feb. 27.

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