An Eagle to start a legacy career

The Concordia Courier

CUI Track and Field

By Jenna Hoffman | 2/11/2022

De Wilder started a new legacy in his Eagle’s tennis career this season by transitioning from being an active tennis player to becoming the team’s assistant coach.

De Wilder started his Eagle career last season when he transferred from Eastern Illinois to join the tennis team at Concordia. As an athlete, De Wilder immediately took the role of a leader, helping bring together the team. 

De Wilder's decision to become an assistant coach was made years ago. “I became an assistant coach because ever since I came to the United States, I fell in love with the idea of coaching and exploring the tactical side of the game,” De Wilder said. 

Becoming an assistant coach meant changing the role of what an assistant coach does. De Wilder said, “A lot of coaches separate themselves off the court and I try to create an atmosphere by spending time with (student athletes) off the court and that way the players want to play for you and win.” 

Transitioning from teammate to coach was easy for De Wilder, and felt like a natural transition. “To be fair, in Concordia since I was a player it is kind of a similar feeling because I still join the practices and I am on the courts with people I know,” De Wilder said. 

De Wilder’s former teammate in previous teams and the team captain of the Eagles team, senior Jan Simon said, “It is good to have someone that I trusted for many years be by my side and who can help me in different situations and has the same values as me.”

De Wilder was not the only one happy being on the coaching staff, his players shared the same sentiment. 

“G. brings a very positive and a very friendly vibe to the court, which definitely helps me relax if I’m a bit stressed,” said graduate student James Caddies. 

“The relationship with G. is strong and it brings more of a confidence factor next to the courts. He knows me so well that when things get tough and you are not sure what to do, having someone like G. who understands you as a tennis player but also as a friend is a big help, and an impact for me this year,” said senior Mike Janson.

With De Wilder as an assistant coach, the Eagles felt better than ever with their team dynamic this season. “I feel great about it. Everyone on the team gets along really really well. There is a lot of energy on the team. And although we lost a few players I think that helped strengthen the bond between the players that are still here and unite us as a small but a great team,” said Caddies. 

The relationship between De Wilder and his former teammates, and now players, although it was built on affinity of linking from off the court, it also carried with it respect on the court. “I have a lot of respect for what he has done in his tennis career and the way he goes about teaching us,” said Caddies. 

On Tues., Feb. 8 the men’s tennis team beat Irvine Valley College 5-4 to start the Eagles’ season. The team is currently in Hawaii playing a series of matches against University of Hawaii, Hawaii Pacific and Hawaii Hilo.

Tags: Tennis, sports, Men's Athletics, leadership

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