Pioneer Spotlight: Ulz Daeuber
Ulz Daeuber is an assistant football coach and lecturer in the physical education department. Believed to be the only full-time NCAA football coach from Germany, Daeuber was named the Wisconsin Intercollegiate Athletic Conference Assistant Coach of the Year after the 2013 season.
The football team won its first playoff game in school history this year and finished 10-2. Since you have been here since 1999, how gratifying was this season for you?
It was a fun season to see everything come together and that our hard work is paying off finally. We've had our ups and downs, but lots of things, like the new fitness center, the support of the administration, the new offices and the staff stability, all seemed to come together. We're not doing a lot of different things in our coaching, but those other factors have really helped. What was also gratifying was to see how opponents treated us. Other people used to want us on their schedule because "it's just Platteville," but now it's the other way around. Other teams are paying attention to us and have to prepare for us like another Whitewater.
You were in Green Bay recently to accept the WIAC Assistant Coach of the Year Award. What did that mean to you?
It meant I had to drive through a snowstorm. No it means I'm living the dream, the first assistant coach from Germany. I've fulfilled my dream of coaching American football and at a high level. Having Mike (Emendorfer, the WIAC Coach of the Year) there too means people recognize UW-Platteville football and what we are doing here.
Like you mentioned, you are not on the usual coaching track. You must be one of the only, if not the only, full-time college football coach from Germany. When did you want to coach American football and what obstacles did you face along the way?
I started playing football at age 15 because my older brother did it, and I did everything he did. I realized very quickly I wasn't big enough, strong enough nor fast enough to make money playing. I wanted to go into education, and I wanted to something with organized football. I had some job offers, and I picked UW-Platteville because we had some players from UW-Platteville play for my team in Germany before I came here. The biggest obstacle was people thinking "here's a guy from Germany. What does he know about football?"
You have now been a U.S. resident for 15 years. Besides your family, what do you miss most about your life in Germany?
Family and friends would the key things. The thing I also miss is sharing the common roots. People here can talk about remembering an old TV show, but I don't have that. And of course, German bakeries and German beer.
What advice would you give to students who are considering studying in or moving to another country?
Every student should do a study abroad. It widens your horizon so much. When we brought our teams over to Germany (in 2003 and 2005), many of the players had never been outside of Southwest Wisconsin. We have a saying in Germany, "Jump into the Cold Water.'" Just try it. It will work out. And I don't want this to sound bad when it comes out, but don't be arrogant to think the U.S. has everything. I had people ask me if we have toilets and running water in Germany. Learn about other cultures. Expect greatness wherever you go.
Interview conducted by: Paul Erickson, University Information and Communications.
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