“One team, one family”

The new Head Coach of the Hamline Swim and Dive team, Alex Card, builds on culture, competitiveness and academics.

Michael Kurtz, Sports Reporter

For the second season in a row, the Hamline University Swim and Dive team was in need of a new head coach. This time around, they hired one that they plan to build on for years to come. Head Coach Alex Card joined the team just last month from California Lutheran University.

Originally from Prior Lake, Card started his career at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire as a swimmer. He was a six-time All-American in the 100 and 200-yard breaststroke and 2014 UW-Eau Claire Male Student-Athlete of the Year. He then finished his career at Eau Claire as an assistant coach.

Even though it was a fast transition with Hamline needing him to join almost immediately, Card was up for the journey and opportunity. 

“This is a final stop, a dream for me. My wife and I talked about attempting to go back home to Minnesota. Then Hamline just posted a job, and this opportunity doesn’t just show up for no reason. About a week and a half later we were moving to Hamline,” Card said. “I’ve never seen a liberal arts school offer a law degree before. The wide variety of majors adds a more diverse group of athletes who want to come in.”

He also touched on the value of competing in the Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (MIAC). 

“The MIAC is an amazing conference with lots of teams going to nationals,” he said. “We see lots of national competitiveness.”

Card is no stranger to that national competitiveness. During his three-year stint as an assistant coach at the University of Chicago, the team accumulated 39 All-Americans. 

Now at Hamline, Card promotes a mindset of “one team, one family” and talked at length about the importance of taking the sport seriously, being competitive and having athletes speak their mind, but also not belittling their teammates. 

For senior captain Courtney Broyles, his actions speak true to his words. 

“On deck he is very good at interacting with swimmers during their sets. Teammates will have their heads out of the water and ask him questions, and he’ll take a second to think and give corrections or things to work on. It’s refreshing to hear teammates getting feedback and feel good about wanting to improve,” Broyles said. 

To no surprise, this style of coaching is all by design. 

“I like to think of myself as a professor of swimming,” Card said. “I have multiple ways of explaining a single object, which can help swimmers better understand when they’re not getting a concept. We try to make it as individualistic as possible without overreaching and making it feel like athletes aren’t getting enough attention.” 

Even more importantly, a big area of Card’s coaching style comes from an emphasis on academics and education, as he requires a one-on-one biweekly academic check-in with athletes to ensure success. He has also found that when athletes are doing better in school and are not frantically getting homework done or having a hard time communicating with professors, they do better in the pool. 

Approaching the middle of the season, Card has the full support of the athletic department behind him. Beth Rittler, the Associate Director of Athletics, shared her thoughts on the new hire. 

“I am thrilled to have Alex join our staff,” she said. “Alex is passionate for the sport and brings coaching and recruiting experience from high level institutions. He shares our vision and we look forward to him leading our programs.”

As for the team, Card is excited to work through the season with all of them. 

“The team has been through a lot of coaching changes and they’ve stuck together very well and are very strong. I feel lucky to have inherited a culture such as that because that’s hard to build. I feel very fortunate,” Card said.

Students can see Coach Card and the rest of the swim and dive team at their next home meet versus Macalester on Saturday, Nov. 19 at the Bush Center Pool.