Story courtesy of Ian Marks, Assistant Director of Athletic Communications, Michigan Technological University
HOUGHTON, Mich. - Coaches are naturally competitive people. Dawn Plitzuweit takes it to another level.
“Dawn is the most competitive person I have ever known,” said Kevin Borseth who coached Dawn at Michigan Tech and who hired her as his assistant at both Michigan Tech and Michigan.
Tech athletic director Suzanne Sanregret echoed Borseth’s sentiments. “She was very passionate about whatever she does. She didn’t hold back whether it was basketball or academics.”
Borseth first noticed Plitzuweit (maiden name Zarling), a small, stocky guard, at a basketball camp on the campus of Lakeland College.
“I told my assistant Rose Antrim that we needed to recruit her,” said Borseth. “She ended up being the missing piece that we were looking for. She grabbed offensive rebounds and tracked down loose balls.”
Plitzuweit’s hustle paid off immediately for the Huskies. The West Bend, Wis., native was named the GLIAC’s Freshman of the Year after leading the team in rebounds (7.1 per game) and ranking third on the team in scoring with 9.2 points per game.
The following year Plitzuweit found herself sitting on the sidelines with a knee injury. It was then that she first got into coaching.
“Our assistant coach had left the team and we did not hire anyone to replace her,” said Borseth.
“Dawn filled the role of assistant coach for me that season.”
Plitzuweit returned the following year to the line up, and it was like she didn’t miss a beat. She earned All-GLIAC First Team and All-Defensive Team accolades. She was named the most valuable player of the GLIAC Tournament, the NCAA Div. II Great Lakes Regional and the NCAA National Quarterfinal game.
The accolades continued over her final two seasons in a black and gold jersey. Plitzuweit earned back-to-back GLIAC Player of the Year and Kodac All-America honors and two more trips to the NCAA Tournament. She was also Michigan’s NCAA Woman of the Year as well as Michigan’s Female Amateur Athlete of the Year.
As driven as she was on the court she also knew how to have fun. Knowing that the team would be missing out on spring break to practice for the upcoming NCAA Tournament, Plitzuweit decided to bring spring break to practice.
“I came to practice and they all had on swimsuits and towels on the floor,” said Borseth.
When her playing career ended in 1995 she held numerous school records and finished as the second-leading scorer in school history with 1,398 points. She was set to head to Europe but at the last minute decided to return to Tech as an assistant coach under Borseth.
“Basketball was always a passion of mine. I thought I would get into coaching. I just figured it would be at the middle or high school level,” said Plitzuweit who graduated with a degree in biology and gave the commencement speech.
After two years working under Borseth, she left for a one-year stint at Wisconsin before rejoining Borseth at Green Bay. The duo brought the same success they had at Tech to Green Bay, leading the Phoenix to four straight Horizon League championships.
“I always enjoyed playing for coach Borseth and I have great respect for him,” said Plitzuweit, who would be inducted into the Michigan Tech Sports Hall of Fame in 2006.
In 2002, Plitzuweit got her first taste of life as a head coach returning to the GLIAC at Grand Valley State. In her five years in Allendale, she led the Lakers to four NCAA appearances and the 2006 National Championship.
Plitzuweit tries to instill the same values of hard work and the drive to excel in her players that her parents, Harold and Mary, instilled in her.
“Sports and the game of basketball taught me many things, including teamwork, discipline and time management. Time management is something I use every day trying to balance my job as a coach with my family,” said Plitzuweit who is married with two children.
Plitzuweit reunited with Borseth one more time, for a five year stint at Michigan. When Borseth left to return to Green Bay in the Spring of 2012, Plitzuweit took the head coach position at Northern Kentucky where her competitive fire continues to burn strong as she leads the Norse in the transition from Div. II to Div. I.