Ali (Bernard) Sprenger learns, grows as first-year head coach

NEW ULM — New Ulm native Ali (Bernard) Sprenger said that her first year as head women’s wrestling coach at Augsburg University was a huge learning and career opportunity.

“And I knew right away that this was the right choice and the clear path for me to take,” she said. “There was a lot of learning and a lot of memorable moments that I am excited to continue to build off of.”

Sprenger said that she learned that there is more than just teaching and coaching wrestling techniques to her wrestlers.

“There is scheduling to budget management,” she said. “Being a coach to do all of that is so important and that was a big learn for me.”

And her time management was put to a test with sometimes not enough hours in the day to do all of the duties.

“We are traveling — it is a 24 hour job. I connect with girls in the evenings or the mornings but I absolutely love it.”

Sprenger said that she has her girls start the day early with 7 a.m. practices.

But her day starts even earlier.

“I leave my house at around 5 a.m. during the season,” she said. “I want to get to practice early in case one of the girls wants to get some practice in ahead of time. After practice we try and do some one-on-ones as well.”

Then she has to set up tournament schedules and the buses

“I am also doing recruiting for the next year as well and that is really important,” she said. “I also have to make a game plan for the next week so I need to collaborate my practice plans with the other coaches. A chunk of my time is o the mat but a another big chunk of my time is off of the mat.”

Sprenger said the most important her off-mat duties is selling the Augsburg wrestling program to recruiting.

“We are trying to build our team, so that has been an important piece of the puzzle.”

That has made her learn some things that she has not used before.

“I have learned how to use Instagram — I have never did that before,” she said. “And recruiting how the new athletes want to be recruited on Instagram. I am getting better at it.”

Sprenger tells her recruits that Augsburg is a wrestling school.

“A lot of the athletes in the area have had a coach or two that have gone through the Augsburg men’s program,” she said. “We have such great amenities to our wrestlers. We take care of our athletes — Augsburg has a big student-athlete population and it is a DIII school. It is really sports focused and it is in the heart of Minnesota too.”

Sprenger said she wants the athlete with a gritty attitude and a growth mindset.

“I want athletes who are wanting to learn and are eager to learn more,” she said. “I see a lot of first- and second-year athletes who have a big potential and when I connect with them, they are excited to wrestle in college and they still have that spark and hunger for wrestling.”

This season Augsburg had a small number of women on the wrestling team.

“But that gave us the opportunity to grow our program to a healthy number,” she said. “The small number to start was due to the transition of head coaches.”

This season, Sprenger and Augsburg sent three girls to the National Tournament.

And Sprenger sees the women’s wresting program growing in Minnesota.

“It is growing at the youth and high school level,” she said, “And it is nice to see it grow in my home state in the high school teams.”

Sprenger said that her future at Augsburg includes recruiting-a healthy and competitive team.

“And we want are going after those championships — we want to be on the top of the podium,” she said. “We want that winning culture but also that growth mindset on our team.”

Sprenger will be putting on a free wrestling camp for girls from grades 1-12 on Wednesday, May 29, and Thursday, May 30, at Farmington High School from 6-8 p.m.

Girls grades 1-6 will have their camp from 6-7 p.m., with girls grades 7-12 will have theirs from 7-8 p.m.

For more information, email Sprenger at sprenger@augsburg.edu.


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