COLUMBIA — When Stephens College added a cross country team to the athletic program in 2006, the administration found a coach ready and willing to head the team in its own gymnasium.
Dane Pavlovich, who at the time had coached volleyball at Stephens for three years, happily accepted the challenge of starting a cross country program at a school where he already had his fair share of responsibilities.
Pavlovich ran cross country himself in high school and jumped at a chance to be a part of Stephens' team.
One year later, Pavlovich's enthusiasm for coaching remains equally strong as he prepares the team for its second season together.
"Going into this year, we're much improved cross country wise," Pavlovich said. "We're going to have a lot of people pushing each other, and that's what you want."
In addition to coaching cross country at Stephens for the second season, Pavlovich is the head basketball coach and associate athletic director. He and his wife Amy Kay are live-in graduate residents for two of the Stephens dormitories. Pavlovich also instructs a transitional class for freshman called "Stephens Success" that meets for two hours each of the first seven weeks of the semester.
Although he does many jobs on campus, Pavlovich says he enjoys coaching the most, having been inspired by watching his own father coach a high school football team as a child.
"When I was growing up, it's what my dad did," Pavlovich said. "It was just kind of what happened after school."
After graduating from Kansas State in the fall of 1999, Pavlovich took his career to Linn High School, where he also took on multiple responsibilities. He was an English teacher for four years as well as the head coach of the junior high and high school varsity basketball teams and the track and field team. Pavlovich was athletic director his last two years at Linn.
In 2003, Pavlovich became a basketball and volleyball coach at Stephens. In 2006, the school added cross country and softball programs.
Though he enjoyed coaching volleyball, Pavlovich made the switch to cross country because he wanted experience the special atmosphere he says accompanies a cross country team. Although he also coaches basketball and has experience coaching other sports, he says the relationship that runners on a cross country team form is distinct.
It's a different type of team chemistry," Pavlovich said. "It's awesome to see student-athletes helping and supporting each other even after they've finished the race."
Pavlovich's runners say they appreciate the efforts he makes to spend time with them.
"He has a lot of responsibility," said senior runner Julia Hanson. "But he balances it well."
Junior Rachel Henderson is a member of the cross country and basketball teams at Stephens. and said she enjoys the amount of time she gets to spend with Pavlovich.
"He has great time management skills," Hanson said. "I see him pretty much every day all year."
Aside from the time Pavlovich put in coaching the cross country team, he will also coach basketball practices beginning next week. During this time, Pavlovich will run two practice sessions each day, as well as working in the athletic department contacting recruits, checking the classroom efforts of his student-athletes and hosting a radio show on KWWC Sweet 90.5FM, the Stephens College radio station.
Pavlovich's team opens the cross country season Sept. 15 in St. Louis.