In light of the news that current LRSC Athletic Director Duane Schwab would be retiring at the end of the academic year, Lake Region State College announced this week that the school's Assistant AD, Daniel Mertens, will be taking his place.
Mertens, who is also an assistant to Schwab with the LRSC women's basketball team, is a Devils Lake native and former student at Lake Region State College. He's been a member of the LRSC athletic staff since 2006.
The school made the announcement this week after interviewing a host of potential candidates, including Mertens, who was made aware of his appointment on Friday, Dec. 20.
Mertens earned his associate’s degree from Lake Region State College and his bachelor’s from Mayville State University. He has also been accepted into Master’s Degree program at Minot State University.
While he is confident in his ability to manage an LRSC athletic program with which he is already involved, Mertens is more than aware of who he will be replacing this spring, a man that will be leaving a rather large pair of shoes to fill.
“In my mind, Schwab is a legend,” Mertens said. “It’s going to be tough following a guy like that, but I’ve learned a ton from him. He’s one of my greatest mentors.”
Schwab is currently in his 25th and final season as LRSC head coach, a career that has seen him garner more than 550 wins (and counting), eight Region 8 championships and seven national tournament appearances. Schwab was also awarded “Coach of the Year” honors eight times during his tenure with the Lady Royals.
These are not easy accomplishments to replicate, but Mertens, who has served on the LRSC staff for the last six seasons, feels that he can continue the good work that Schwab has managed in his time at Lake Region State.
This experience with be Mertens’ first as a collegiate head coach, and according to Schwab, who possesses a considerable wealth of head coaching experience, knows that his successor will run into his fair share of challenges at first.
But like any new job, it takes a bit of time to become fully acclimated, and it will be the same for Mertens in his newfound positions.
Dr. Randall Fixen, Vice President of Student Affairs and Athletics says Mertens will be a strong leader for Royals Athletics and that LRSC is excited for Mertens to transfer into his new role.
“Daniel has been a crucial member of the LRSC athletics family,” Fixen said. “Being able to mentor under Duane Schwab has only better prepared him for this challenge, and we look forward to a bright future for the Lady Royals’ basketball program and all of LRSC Athletics.”