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Koehler named coach of the year

The legendary college basketball coach John Wooden once said "Make sure your players know they are working with you, not for you."

It's this philosophy that University of Minnesota, Morris women's golf coach Jana Koehler employs in her approach to coaching and with great success.

This year, under Koehler, the Cougar women's golf team won the Upper Midwest Athletic Conference championship while placing three individuals on the all-conference team. It is the first time Koehler has won the award.

Koehler received the news at work on the Tuesday after her team won the UMAC crown.

"It brought a big smile to my face," she said.

An excellent golfer herself, with several Pomme de Terre Golf Club titles in her trophy case, Koehler says coaching golf is mostly about setting goals and creating an atmosphere for cooperation and trust.

"It starts with the first team meeting," she says. "You have to have an environment where your players know each other and get along. And from there they help each other become better golfers... People may think of golf as an individual sport but golfers one through five have to score well to win a title."

And Koehler's golfers did that this season. They set a preseason goal of shooting below 400 as a team and on the second day of the UMAC championships, they posted a 395, clinching the title.

Like all good coaches, Koehler eschews credit for the honor.

"What can I say? It's more my players that helped me get it. They put in a lot of time this fall."