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Lake Region State College:

Celebrating 75 years

Page 9

Through the Years: Royals Athletics

D

uane Schwab retired in 2014

as the winningest coach in

LRSC athletics history. He had

begun his journey with Royals

athletics in 1966 as a student play-

ing basketball and baseball.

Recently, Duane took a trip

down Royals memory lane to

share some of the trials and

tribulations which have led LRSC

athletics to where they are today.

In 1989, after a much needed

break from the athletic world, the

opportunity of a lifetime arose

when Duane was offered the

opportunity to build a women’s

basketball dynasty at LRSC. He

assumed the role of head coach

of Lady Royals basketball, taking

the program over from another

successful coach, Tim Jacobson,

who had just led the Lady Royals

basketball program to the national

tournament two years in a row.

Duane and the Lady Royals

basketball program made eleven

more national tournament ap-

pearances during his time at

LRSC. When asked about his

secrets of successful recruiting,

Duane said he always approached

student athletes as exactly that ...

students first. He wanted students

who were successful in the class-

room, because that kind of work

ethic usually finds success on the

basketball court.

The men’s basketball pro-

gram, led by Mark Graupe, won

the conference in 2007 and 2008

and gained a berth at the national

tournament in 2008.

Programs close and re-emerge

During Duane’s first year as

head women’s basketball coach,

he found the athletic department

needed baseball players. He said

he’d try to recruit a team but came

up short. Sadly, the department

found itself closing its baseball

program in the spring of 1990.

The spring of 1990 was also a

tough season for women’s softball

which followed the men’s base-

ball program and closed.

In 1991, Royals athletics con-

sisted of only women’s volleyball

and men’s and women’s basket-

ball. Volleyball would survive for

a few more years, but with tight

budgets and a need for funding

for academic programs, volley-

ball, too, would close its doors in

2003, leaving only two sports at

LRSC for the next nine years.

One may think this was a dif-

ficult situation for a community

like the Lake Region that loves

sports, but Duane was instrumen-

tal in keeping Royals athletics

on the map. Men’s and women’s

golf, volleyball, baseball and soft-

ball would eventually re-emerge.

Over 20 years later

In 2012, Royals athletics

proudly added men’s golf and

volleyball back to the athletics

program. Soon, baseball, softball,

and women’s golf were added

in 2014. Within a short period of

time, all of the re-newed athletic

programs are finding success and

competing at the highest level.

Men’s and women’s golf have

appeared on the national stage in

both 2015 and 2016.

The winning tradition has

continued for Lady Royals basket-

ball. Since Danny Mertens took

over as head women’s basket-

ball coach in 2015, he has led the

team to two national tournament

appearances within his first two

years as head coach.

As a member of the NJCAA

Mon-Dak Conference, Royals

athletics continues to develop

and prevail. Royals fans know

that Lake Region State College

will continue to serve its student

population at the highest level,

and the campus climate speaks

for itself.

Here’s to the next 25 years of

student athlete success! ●

Royals named to

All-Academic Team

F

or the second straight year,

the Royals finished with the

most players of any team on the

Mon-Dak Conference’s

All Aca-

demic Team

. Overall, there were 44

student athletes representing all

seven sports that LRSC offers—

men’s and women’s basketball

and golf, volleyball, baseball,

and fastpitch softball. The Royals

athletic department continues to

strive to produce quality student

athletes, said Athletic Director

Danny Mertens. However, he

adds, that success wouldn’t be

possible without the wonderful

faculty and staff who are here to

see each student succeed.

“We have true student athletes,

but I want to thank faculty and staff

for their hard work and help to make

these student athletes successful off

the playing field.”

— Branches, summer 2016 —

Schwab inducted into

NJCAA Hall of Fame

D

uane Schwab was LRSC ath-

letic director from 1990 to 2014.

He coached women’s basketball

from 1989 to 2014 where he won

572 games, won 14 Mon-Dak

Conference titles, and appeared

at nine NJCAA national tourna-

ments.

— Branches, summer 2016 —