Starting from scratch

Stephens' coach is building a
program from the road.
Sunday, March 20, 2005 | 12:00 a.m. CST; updated 10:45 p.m. CDT, Sunday, July 20, 2008

Dane Pavlovich is an expert of sorts when it comes to sports talk radio in the Midwest.

As the athletic recruiter at Stephens College, Pavlovich often finds himself on the road alone. To pass the time, he dials in sports talk on his radio.

“I’m a sports fanatic,” Pavlovich said. “I like 1580 KTGR when I’m around here. When I head West (I like) WHB 810, when I go East, I like to listen to stations in St. Louis. That occupies my time.”

He has made trips to Oklahoma, Iowa and Illinois several times to scout possible future Stephens players. Pavlovich said it’s a rarity for him to be home before midnight.

“The evenings I am on the road a lot,” Pavlovich said. “I’ve been all over the place. It’s my last opportunity to see some high school and junior college players as their seasons are winding up. It’s pretty hectic.”

Being the athletic recruiter is part of Pavlovich’s job description. He also coaches the basketball and volleyball teams. He has taught elementary physical education classes since his arrival in Columbia in 2003.

Pavlovich is no stranger to juggling jobs. He has had to since his first job, at Linn High School.

“(To juggle everything), it’s just coming to work and getting something done,” Pavlovich said. “If you look at the whole picture, it can look daunting but if you’re able to separate things out and take individual slices of things that you want to get done, it becomes a little easier.”

By the time he left Linn, Pavlovich hadthe titles of varsity boys’ basketball coach, assistant track coach and athletic director on his resume.

“Linn was starting a lot of its sports (when I took the job),” Pavlovich said. “I started the volleyball program there from the administrative standpoint. I coached a lot of different (sports). I got a lot of experience there from behind the scenes and also got my feet wet with athletic administration.”

He also led the basketball program at Linn in a new direction. In 2000-01, his first year as the varsity boys’ head coach, Pavlovich led his team to a 22-5 record, fifth in the final Associated Press Class 2 rankings and had an All-State player in Marc Kemp.

For Pavlovich, who also started the boys’ soccer program at Linn, it turned out to be the right job at the right time.

“It was the perfect opportunity,” Pavlovich said. “I was 25 years old. It was an incredible experience for me to get at such a young time of my life but I think I was ready for it and I think we did an OK job.”

After four years at Linn, Pavlovich realized that it was time for him to move on with his career.

“I knew that I always wanted to get into college coaching,” Pavlovich said. “I was getting comfortable at Linn. I really liked my time at Linn but I knew that if I didn’t make the jump at that point, I wouldn’t.”

After resigning his position and interviewing around, Pavlovich said that he was lucky to find Stephens. The key selling point for him was the chance to start from scratch.

“He’s really committed to making the program something that everyone knows about,” Pam Dodge, a freshman on the basketball team said.

In two years, Pavlovich has help facilitate Stephens’ switch from NCAA Division III to the NAIA, revamped the basketball team and improved the overall play in the Stars athletic department.

“Stephens’ basketball wasn’t as noticed a year ago,” basketball junior Venicia Vaughn said. “He makes this his life.”

Pavlovich’s dedication and hard work has not gone unnoticed.

“I really respect him,” basketball junior Amy Burklund said. “As a coach, he teaches us in life to do things full heartedly. He sets an example for us and he shows us that this is a good way to live our lives.”

With volleyball and basketball seasons over, perhaps the most important facet of Pavlovich’s job begins. He’s turning his attention to the future of the basketball, volleyball and tennis teams.

Traveling to watch potential athletes’ games is just a small part of the job description. Writing letters and making phone calls takes up most of his time.

“This is an important time in the life of our program,” Pavlovich said.

His recruiting motto, “to be early and be often,” has enticed past signees.

“At the time, I was being recruited by four other colleges,” Burklund said. “He showed me attention and showed me that he wanted me here. I felt comfortable.”

Players often feel a bond when they are being recruited.

“He’s a real people person,” Vaughn said. “It wasn’t one single thing that drew me in. Just knowing him (did enough).”

To Pavlovich’s players, he’s like a second father.

“He would be there as a friend and an away-from-home parental figure,” Burklund said. “He’s someone that I could trust.”

Even though Pavlovich has only been at Stephens for two years, he has made a significant impact.

“He’s very important to the school because students know him,” Burklund said. “He interacts with everyone. He’s a friendly, trustworthy person and he’s there for an athlete or a student.”

Pavlovich said that he often thinks of what could be at Stephens College when he’s in his car, traveling to see recruits play.

“There are things to occupy myself when I’m on the road whether it be phone calls or envisioning what could happen with those recruits in our program,” Pavlovich said. “I think about it all of the time.”

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