Coach’s Corner: Louisville’s Dale Cowper

Coach’s Corner: Louisville’s Dale Cowper

Louisville Orthopaedic Clinic is proud to sponsor the weekly “Coach’s Corner”, featuring a high school coach from women’s athletics in the local community. Since 1974 the Louisville Orthopaedic Clinic has served the local area for orthopaedic problems and musculosketal issues. The sports medicine program has team physicians for local high schools which provide sports physicals and urgent care for athletes. Click here for details on SPORTS INJURY URGENT CARE.

This week’s “Coach’s Corner” feature is Dale Cowper. He is the head coach of the University of Louisville track and field team. If there is a coach you’d like to read about, email suggestions to

1) What is your history with athletics in your personal life?

I was a high school state champion for Marlette High School and an All-American for Western Michigan University.  [Started coaching as an assistant coach at California State University, Northridge, in 2003, became Louisville’s assistant coach in 2006, then head coach in 2013].

2) How did you obtain your current coaching position?

I have been blessed throughout my career to work for two outstanding mentors. Don Strametz was the longtime head coach at Cal State Northridge where I began my collegiate coaching career and Ron Mann brought me to Louisville just over 10 years ago.  Since then I have had the opportunity to grow from within our athletic department and Tom Jurich gave me the opportunity to lead our program heading into the Fall of 2013.

ACC Championship Day 23) Who do you look up to?

Professionally, Coach Strametz and Coach Mann have been outstanding mentors during my career. I am also in frequent contact with my collegiate coach and current men’s track and field coach at the University of Illinois, Mike Turk. Most importantly I am blessed to be a part of an outstanding group of coaches that Tom has assembled on our campus here at UofL.  I truly appreciate and the value the relationships that have grown with most of our coaches on campus.

4) What are two primary goals you have/had for your team this season?

Our program’s top goals for the upcoming season are to become an ACC-title contender and strong national representative across all six sports. We have an outstanding group of students assembled for the 2016-17 academic year and expect strong results throughout the year.

5) What is the hardest part of coaching for you?

The most challenging part of my daily responsibilities is to make sure 85 to 90 student-athletes are committed to moving our program forward on a daily basis. Challenging for championships takes a year-round commitment from everyone in our program.

6) What qualities do you hope to instill in your players that they can take with them to their families, careers, and society?

We strive to hold our team to the standard of “Pursuing Excellence in all Realms”. In order to become successful at the highest level, students must be a true CARD.  To us, that means being Committed, Accountable, Respectful, and Determined while also following our sports performance mantra of Being Prepared, Attacking, and Finishing Strong. If our students grow to represent these eight characteristics, then they will be very successful throughout their future endeavors.  Athletics can be an outstanding training ground for future stars in other realms.

7) How do you motivate your best athletes to work even harder?

We are blessed with a motivated group of students that work very hard to see our program grow. One of the ways we keep the squads motivated is by continuing to place them in progressively more demanding competitive opportunities.  As their individual abilities grow each year, we want to make sure our competitive schedule offers continued challenges throughout the season.

8) What is one mistake you’ve made in your coaching career, and what did you learn from it?

I’ve made too many mistakes to list! The most memorable is a situation in which I reacted in the heat of competition.  It can be challenging at times to take a step back in order to gradually work through an issue.  Every season helps us to grow our individual level of coaching wisdom and improve the way we handle each situation we encounter throughout the season.

9) How do you handle criticism from parents, athletic director, the media, and others?

I accept criticism and recognize that we all make mistakes and fall short at times. We each have areas that we can improve upon.  Once I’ve heard the criticism, I traditionally search for a solution that addresses the given situation before it is replicated.

10) What is the greatest philosophy you live by?

I’m a big believer in the Theory of Individuality.  I coach an extraordinarily diverse group of students that each have a different skill set along with different attributes and personalities.  I believe we can be very successful inside any environment as long as we accept and respect our individual differences while striving to reach a common goal.