Paul Dotterweich realizes that sometimes he and his team - Geneseo's Blue Wave swim team - may come off as cocky but in many ways, they've earned it.
During his tenure here at Geneseo, the men's squad has never failed to bring home the conference title and the women's squad has won five out of eight attempts.
The Buffalo native began his own swimming career in seventh grade. "I wanted to be like my older brother … I swam throughout high school and at Buffalo State."
Dotterweich became an assistant coach for the Bengals during his four-year career as a middle distance swimmer. Just after graduating in 1997 with a degree in secondary education and a concentration in biology, he was offered the head coaching job, making him one of the younger coaches in the conference.
Just three years later, Dotterweich applied for and received the head coaching job here at Geneseo in 2001. "It was a really tough decision for me to leave Buffalo … but I felt if I was going to make a move this would be it." Dotterweich said he was drawn to Geneseo not only because of the school's strong tradition in swimming but because it was a residential campus that helped to foster the team chemistry that he values so highly.
"When I first got here it was all about winning, winning and winning," Dotterweich said. "Through time and experience I've realized chemistry is the first step to winning."
Dotterweich said the fact that Geneseo was already a dominant force in the conference when he arrived weighed heavily upon him. The women's team had won 11 straight conference championships and the men's squad had taken home 13 of the last 15.
"I was nervous, there's no question," he said. "I was young, I felt like I had to prove myself to the team." To show his dedication and desire to connect with his athletes he even went as far as to join the men's team's yearly tradition of bleaching their hair. "I got a few weird looks around the office," he admitted.
Yet he didn't miss a beat, making a seamless transition as the women's team won the conference title his first four years here. Dotterweich said he credits a big part of his success to his recruiting abilities. "I was young, I was energetic and I went out and recruited a lot of good athletes and that enabled us to continue the success we had."
"I see myself as a facilitator," Dotterweich said, regarding his philosophy on coaching. He added that when he sits down with a recruit he tells them that through his coaching experience and experience as a collegiate athlete, he knows the path to success.
Success between the bulkheads isn't the only success Dotterweich pushes student-athletes toward. He said that he often talks with them about possible career paths and what they really want to accomplish in life.
"My goal is to try and create an atmosphere and an experience that when the student-athlete walks away four years down the road that they had no regrets … if they can look back and say it was worth it, then I've reached my goal."
Dotterweich added that he believes that once a swimmer is part of the Blue Wave, they'll always share a special lifelong bond.
Despite this, Dotterweich said he refuses to settle for the Blue Wave's current level of success. "I don't want to sound cocky or arrogant but right now in the SUNYAC it isn't getting it done for us." In the future he said he plans on bringing the Blue Wave to New England, not only in search of tougher meets, but to increase their recruiting base.
Though his success could land him a job at a bigger school, Dotterweich says he has no plans on moving on anytime soon. "My family is pretty settled and we've made some decisions that for the near future, Geneseo is where we're going to be," he said. "I can't say never … but I like Division III in that the athletes compete because they want to, not because they need to stay on a scholarship."
While the demands of family and coaching a team full of All-Americans is heavy, Dotterweich still finds some time for relaxation. Along with the occasional workout and swim with the team, he has a passion for fly-fishing, adding that it's one of the few activities that fits into his hectic schedule.
"Everyday I wake up and I enjoy going to work," he said. "That's what I tell the swimmers. If you don't find a profession you enjoy, you're going to be miserable. If that's worth $10,000 (in salary), then it's worth it."