Knights Profile: Brian Diemer



Photo courtesy Brian Diemer

Calvin’s cross country head coach Brian Diemer has led Calvin’s cross country teams to 36 titles, making him the most medaled coach in MIAA history. Diemer began his coaching career in 1986 with just the men’s team, then took over as coach of the the women’s team in 2006.

After graduating from South Christian High School, Diemer went on to the University of Michigan where he became the NCAA National Champion in the steeplechase. He had the opportunity to continue his running career after college.

“I went on to run for Nike post-collegiately,” said Diemer. “I participated in three Olympics, four World Championships, Goodwill Games, Pan-am Games and other games like that. The single best moment was winning the bronze medal in Los Angeles in the steeplechase [of the 1983 Olympics]. The greatest honor was being chosen to be the captain of the track and field team in 1992. Those are great memories.”

When asked about being the leader of the track and field team, Diemer said he was surprised.

“In 1992, our Olympic track and field team sat in a room and we nominated some people and then voted on someone to be the team captain. I was one of three that was nominated.”

“We came back in, and they said that I was a team captain, which totally blew me away because Carl Lewis was on the team, Roger Kingdom and a bunch of gold medal winners,” Diemer continued.

“I think there were a number of teammates who maybe had seen what I had done to make the team. I had had a stress fracture in my back and did a lot of cross training. A lot of unbelievable things happened for me to make the team. I think that it was inspiring and a lot of people thought that “hey he’s a good team leader.”

He credited his running success to coaches, including Paul Oosting, Ron Warhurst and current assistant coach Al Hoekstra who helped develop and encourage him along the way.

Of course he didn’t forget his wife:

“She’s been right there with me, we’ve been a team in doing this together,” said Diemer. “It’s been a lot of fun and it’s been a lot of excitement. Both of us would do it again if we have a choice; we would do it together again.”

Diemer also notes the importance of his fellow coaches to the team’s success.

“The coaches are all different. Each of us has something different we bring to the table. I think that the kids can relate to at least one of us, if not all of us in different ways,” he said. “These kids are so motivated and they have so much desire to improve and develop that they are out there working hard. There is a camaraderie between them that they love to work hard together. They synergize each other and they’ve really developed over the years. The wins are a result of that team building.”

As a coach, Diemer emphasizes the importance of building a strong team dynamic.

“I think that the wins come along for the ride,” he said. “The main focus is to be building teams, to be building young men and women. When our coaching staff buys into the mission of building the kids, amazing things happen. I think we’ve done a really nice job of that.”

First and foremost, however, Diemer credits God with giving runners the gift of running and opportunity to run:

“I think the important thing is to know why you’re going out the door to do the training in the first place. We realize that God has given us a gift, and he has given us this time and this place. We want to be faithful with those things and come together. He’s brought people from all over to pool our resources together. We want to be faithful to that opportunity.”