Like mentor, like student.
The relationship between a coach and a player is often put in such terms. No better example of this is the relationship that is beginning for men’s track and field throwing coach David Kaiser and first-year thrower Sean Pruitt. As Michigan prepares for its 2005-06 season, Pruitt will be just one of several talented freshmen transitioning into the program this year – a transition that will be met by a coach that went through a similar situation.
David Kaiser is by no means a “freshman” of the coaching ranks, but he is in just his second year as a member of the Wolverines’ coaching staff. Before coming to Michigan, Kaiser was coach at Big Ten rival Purdue for four seasons. He also had prior coaching stints at East Carolina, DePaul, Clemson, Wake Forest and Kansas. With a breadth of experience at other schools, Kaiser knows how to make a transition into a new program while maintaining high expectations.
“I love the challenge,” Kaiser said. “When I came in last season, there was already a lot of talent here, but I wasn’t sure what the expectations were. My goal is to build the program up and help Michigan win a Big Ten title.”
In Kaiser’s first season, he certainly inherited some stars. Junior Brad Miller and sophomore Michael Whitehead led the way for Michigan field events. Both Miller and Whitehead claimed top-seven finishes at the Big Ten Championships in their respective events last season. But as this year’s campaign gets under way, Kaiser believes the talent pool is now even deeper than before.
“Last year, we certainly had some international level-type talent, especially with runners like Nate Brannen,” Kaiser said. “But this season we are just better across the board. With the class we have coming in, we are a much more balanced team.”
One new member of that balanced team is Pruitt. As a high school thrower, Pruitt was a state champion and was heavily recruited to several major universities. Yet, what finally made the Wisconsin native decide to come to Michigan was a talented and ambitious coach in Kaiser.
“It’s the perfect fit for me,” Pruitt said. “We have some of the best coaches in the country here at Michigan, and I am really looking forward to working with coach (Kaiser).”
Pruitt’s high expectations for success at the collegiate level – expectations that seemed to match his coach’s – might have been another factor that led him to Ann Arbor. Despite the fact that he is merely a freshman this season, Pruitt’s goals are set high.
“I expect to throw well this season,” he said. “Maybe it’s a lot to expect as a freshman, but I don’t hope to compete in the Big Ten or at NCAAs – it’s an expectation that I have.”
His coach certainly seems to agree. He makes no bones about the fact that the bar is set high for his freshman prodigy.
“I told him coming in that he is one of the guys who are the future of Michigan throwing,” Kaiser said. “And that future is now.”
So just as the mentor came in last season looking to help make a name for the Michigan throwing program, the student arrives this year looking to be that name.