Sasha Schmid was named the eighth head coach of the Iowa women’s tennis program in July. Schmid, a former Hawkeye student-athlete and assistant coach, brings 15 years of head coaching experience in her return to Iowa City.
How special is it for you to return to Iowa and to lead the women’s tennis program as its head coach?
“It is special. I am a lifelong Hawkeye fan. Since leaving in 2002 from Iowa City, I was always keeping track of Iowa athletics. We never miss a Big Ten basketball or football game on the Big Ten Network. We’re fans watching Iowa as I have gone about my life. My husband played golf (at Iowa) and my brother played baseball, so we’re all Hawkeye fans. These opportunities to coach at your alma mater don’t always work out, so to have it work out at this time was fortunate. I feel proud to be able to be back and there is nothing like being able to be a Hawkeye again. You can wear different uniforms and work at different universities, but it’s never quite the same as being back at your alma mater.”
Did the stars align to get back to Iowa or was it something you always wanted to do?
“I always loved Iowa, but I never felt it was the right time or didn’t work out in past. I feel like it worked out well, I needed to leave and get those other experiences because they were valuable for me. Ten years at Stetson, a small mid-major school where I had to do everything on my own from conditioning to sports psychology to facilities was a great learning experience. To be able to go to Missouri to transition them from the Big 12 to the SEC was a great challenge and it pushed me personally and professionally. It is only appropriate to come back to Iowa now because I bring those experiences with me. I am better for Iowa now having gone through that.”
How have things changed since you were last at Iowa?
“It is a great combination of progress, but still the same wonderful traits about Iowa City and the University of Iowa that were here before. You can see facility upgrades and progress in many of the ways of staying ahead of college athletics. I still see familiar faces and pride of Iowa and the people that are here and fans… all of that is still here. The wonderful diversity of Iowa City and what it has to offer is still in place.”
How beneficial is it for you to have that familiarity with this program both as a player and coach?
“I can speak to the fact that when I am talking to recruits, I chose Iowa. I love Iowa and I feel it is genuine when I tell the recruits and moms and dads how much I believe in this university and this athletics program and how special it is to play for Iowa. That’s not hard for me to do.”
For the kids on the team to also know I believe in them and this university and the things we can accomplish. I was fortunate in the past to be on teams that had tremendous success at Iowa tennis. I know how good this program can be and I can work toward getting us back to the Sweet 16 and NCAA Tournament and a top 25 ranking. I have been here when we’ve done that. I know this is possible and where the standard should be. All those things make me speak in a genuine special way.
What are your goals for the program in your first year?
“For me it’s to establish relationships with all these players. That’s going well, we’re moving along with us building trust and understanding and having a good player-coach relationship with these kids. The team last year was close, falling short in five or six 4-3 matches in the conference. In all those results they were short on the doubles point, so we can make a lot of progress this year in getting them more confident in doubles. I’d like to see us move into the middle of the pack in year one, and that’s doable if we can move some of those 4-3 matches our way. The kids will then start believing in the direction the program is going and we’ll start having momentum heading into year two.”