After nearly 30 years, the Schmotzer coaching era at Coker College will come to an end in July 2016. Head men’s basketball coach Dan Schmotzer and head baseball coach Dave Schmotzer announced today that they will retire from coaching at the end of the 2015-16 school year. Both will remain at Coker. Dave will move to full-time teaching within the physical education department, and Dan will split his time between teaching in the physical education department and serving as Coker’s intramural director.
“This is certainly the end of an era,” said Coker College President Robert Wyatt. “Thankfully, we’ll still have them both around as they transition into new roles at the college. But looking back on their legacy here, I think there’s a reason why they both are so beloved—and it’s not just because they’re institutions. Dan and Dave, each in his own way, exemplify the Coker model. They have spent 30 years personally caring about each of their players. Wherever these programs go next, it will be because of the foundation they built, and we are grateful for that.”
“We are truly grateful for the commitment to Coker College that Dan and Dave have made over the last 25 to 30 years. They are phenomenal people to work with day in and day out,” said Coker Vice President of Athletics and Athletic Facilities Lynn Griffin. “They come to work each day with the energy and determination to make Coker stronger. They see the greater good in what they are doing, preparing young men to represent Coker and themselves for years to come.”
Dan has been the Cobras’ men’s basketball coach since 1987. He began his 29th season leading the Cobras in 2015-16, compiling a record of 374-412. The longest tenured coach in Coker history, Dan has coached multiple all-conference, all-region and All-American players, including four members of the Coker Athletics Hall of Fame; Dennis Woolfolk, Ray Henry, Monty Carr and Dan Shanks, Coker’s most decorated men’s basketball player.
In 1994, Dan earned conference coach of the year honors after leading his team to the Carolinas Intercollegiate Athletics Conference (CIAC) regular season title. His ’94-95 team won a school-record 10 straight games, and they were ranked No. 14 nationally in Division II.
In addition to his success on the basketball court, Dan spent six years as the head men’s golf coach at Coker from 1998-2003. He led the Cobras to three NCAA South/Southeast Regional appearances and Chris Taylor qualified for the NCAA Division II National Championship as an individual in 2002 and 2003. In 2003, he was awarded region coach of the year honors.
Dan, along with his entire 1987-88 men’s basketball team, was inducted into the Coker Athletics Hall of Fame in 2012. The 87-88 season marked Dan’s first at Coker and the first time the men’s program reached 20 wins win a season. The Cobras finished the season with a record of 21-8, the best record in school history at the time. The Cobras made their first-ever trip to the NAIA District 6 postseason tournament and finished the season ranked No. 12 in the nation in scoring defense, allowing just under 64 points per game.
“This is one of the hardest decisions I have ever had to make,” said Dan. “I really don’t have words to explain it. In the end it doesn’t matter how many games you have won or lost; it’s about the relationships that you build—and my brother and I have built some great ones here at Coker. I am so thankful and indebted to the College for allowing me to coach here for almost half my life. The College has allowed us to coach at a high level, and be a part of two great families: the Coker family and the Schmotzer family.”
Dave joined brother Dan at Coker in 1992, becoming Coker’s first and only head baseball coach. The 2015-16 season marks his 24th year leading the Cobras with an all-time record of 637-497-2. He is currently ranked No. 18 among winningest active coaches in NCAA Division II.
Under Dave, the Cobras have captured seven conference titles, three conference tournament titles, and have finished as tournament runner-up twice. The Cobras advanced to the NAIA World Series in 1994 and to the NCAA Division II National Championship in 2013.
Dave has been named conference coach of the year five times and has been named region coach of the year twice. He has coached two MLB Draft picks, John Crowther (1994, 2nd Rd.) and Zach Loraine (2013, 21st Rd.), while numerous players have gone on to sign free agent and independent league contracts during his time at Coker.
In 2010, Dave along with his entire 1994 team, was inducted into the Coker Athletics Hall of Fame. In just the second year of the program’s existence, the 1994 baseball team finished the season with a record of 48-12. The team was ranked as high as No. 3 and finished the season ranked No. 6 in the national NAIA poll. The Cobras won the CIAC Tournament, the NAIA Mid-East Regional and earned a berth in the 1994 NAIA College World Series in Des Moines, Iowa. The team’s Regional Championship and trip to the College World Series were firsts in Coker baseball history.
In 2013, Dave and the Cobras returned to the national stage once again as the baseball team advanced to the NCAA DII National Championship for the first time in the history of the program. The Cobras finished the season ranked No. 3 in the nation with a record of 38-16. They won the 2013 Conference Carolinas Tournament Championship and the 2013 NCAA Southeast Region Baseball Tournament. Coker was one of the final eight teams to advance to the NCAA DII Baseball National Championship in Cary, N.C.
“It’s time,” said Dave. “Nobody can tell you when it’s time—time tells you when it’s time, and it sneaks up on you when it does. No one coaches forever, but a quarter century at one place is special. There comes a point when you have to move on. After 36 years in the college game and over 40 years of coaching, it is time.”
The brothers are natives of Cleveland, Ohio. They both attended St. Edward’s University in Texas, where they were two-sport athletes playing basketball and baseball. After graduating from St. Edward’s, they returned to Cleveland where they began their careers at Trinity High School. Thanks to the flip of a coin, Dan became the basketball coach and Dave the baseball coach. After five seasons at Trinity, the Schmotzers returned to Texas to begin their collegiate coaching careers at Texas Christian University. They both spent 10 years as assistant coaches for the Horn Frogs. In addition to both being members of the Coker Athletics Hall of Fame, both were inducted into the Trinity High School Hall of Fame in 1996, and they were inducted into the Padua Franciscan High School Hall of Fame in 2010.
“All the players that have gone through the gates or stepped on the court have been special, from the very first team to this last one and everyone in between,” added Dan.
“The ride has been so special, and the specialty was Coker,” said Dave. “It allowed us both to do something that we never set out to do, but we did it together—and boy, would mom and dad be proud of us today.”