Attitude paramount to Weiland’s success

Senior Becca Weiland will be a graduate assistant at St. Cloud State.

Senior Rebecca Weiland in the Jean K. Freeman Aquatic Center after practice on Monday afternoon. Weiland accepted a position as a graduate assistant at St. Cloud State.

Image by Liam James Doyle

Senior Rebecca Weiland in the Jean K. Freeman Aquatic Center after practice on Monday afternoon. Weiland accepted a position as a graduate assistant at St. Cloud State.

by David Nelson

Becca Weiland dove into the cold pool in the Jean Freeman Aquatic Center, and then slowly inched her way toward the water’s surface.

As her head broke the water and her arms swung 180 degrees in typical butterfly fashion, the 22-year-old senior swimmer took in a breath and shined a smile.

And Weiland has more than just her swim performance to grin about.

She landed a job as a graduate assistant at St. Cloud State that begins next season.

“I’m in a good place right now,” Weiland said. “Graduation is already at my front door … [and] I have a plan for next year. … I’m just very happy right now.”

Journey to SCSU

Weiland said she has wanted to be a college swimming coach ever since she can remember.

But when she takes her new position in August, her abilities will be tested. She’s filling an atypical graduate assistant position.

“I don’t have an assistant coach,” St. Cloud State head coach Jeff Hegle said. “So my grad assistants are basically like a full-time assistant coach. So she’s going to deal with all aspects of our program — from recruiting to logistics to lineups, coaching just about everything you can think of — she’ll have her hands in.”

Before offering Weiland the position, Hegle said he spoke with Minnesota head coach Kelly Kremer, who has worked with her for the last four years.

Kremer gave her great reviews, saying she’s a role model and performs well as a student-athlete.

Weiland’s journey to St. Cloud State started when head coach Terry Ganley told her that she needed more experience to reach her career aspirations.

So to gain some of the skills necessary for coaching, Stacy Busack, a former volunteer assistant coach for the Gophers, recommended that Weiland look for open graduate assistant positions.

Weiland sent her job inquiries to many Midwest schools, ranging from Northern Michigan to Minnesota State-Mankato.

And St. Cloud State was one that replied.

“I was open arms for her to come to our program,” Hegle said.

After months of email exchanges and phone calls, Hegle officially offered Weiland the job last month.

Despite the role’s large size, Weiland said she is excited to move into it and help shape the program.

“I’m ready to take it to the next level,” Weiland said. “I’m excited to work with college-age student-athletes.”

She’ll only be one year removed from collegiate competition, she said, which is concerning because the team might not take her seriously because of her lack of experience.

“I hope I don’t come off as someone too young,” Weiland said. “Even [though] these kids might be a year younger than me, I want to help them excel at their sport.”

A decorated career

Weiland and the rest of her senior class made Gophers history last weekend, becoming the first Minnesota women’s athletic program to win the conference championship in four consecutive years.

Weiland said the experience was surreal.

“I kept telling myself, ‘Don’t cry, don’t cry, whatever you do,’” she said. “All the seniors were either crying or tearing up.”

Weiland shattered two separate Minnesota records, tallying a 21.88 time in her 200-yard free relay split and boasting a 22.07 mark in the 50-yard freestyle preliminaries.

“It’s been a goal of mine for a really long time to break the 22-second barrier mark,” Weiland said. “I couldn’t believe it finally happened.”

Despite being an 11-time All-American, Weiland’s teammates raved more about her personality than her talent in the pool.

“She’s probably one of my biggest role models,” sophomore Ellen Bloom said.

When it came to her own college choice, Weiland said she didn’t picture herself at Minnesota after growing up in Wisconsin.

Badger country beginnings

Weiland grew up on a 90-acre cattle farm in rural Wisconsin Rapids, Wis.

“[We had] chickens, we used to have goats, we used to have ducks, we used to have geese,” Weiland said. “We had everything.”

But a pond in the family’s backyard raised safety concerns from her parents, who put Weiland and her sister, Racheal, in swimming lessons when the Minnesota athlete was four.

At age 8, Weiland joined her first swim team.

Though she’s been a Minnesota athlete for years, her family members are Badgers fans.

“The first home dual meet my dad came, [he] wasn’t [wearing] a Wisconsin Badger shirt, but it was red,” Weiland said. “It had the white lettering … and I was like, ‘No, you need to go change out of that.’”

Weiland will be the first member of her family to graduate from a four-year university.

And with a new job that’s helped produce multiple head and assistant college coaches, Weiland’s future seems bright.

“I think she’ll be a great coach — somebody that’s going to be able to keep it in perspective, and she’s competitive as heck,” St. Cloud State head coach Terry Ganley said. “She knows what it is to be a hard worker.”

Kremer said Weiland’s constant smile is what helped her get to where she is today.

“Becca has just got such a healthy outlook and such good balance,” Kremer said. “It’s sure served her well as a student-athlete here, but, boy, is that going to serve her well when she gets out in the real world.”