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Our culture


photo by Bruce Brierley
Gereen Wave Head Coach Ryan Kasowski concentrates on the execution of a play during last year’s season. Kasowski empowers his players to make decisions and work towards their common goal of success both on and off the field.


Oliver Francies

This year at media day for the University of North Dakota Fighting Hawks Football team, a number of different coaches noted a common theme with the philosophy of Head Coach of the Green Wave and UND Alumnus and teammate of a couple of coaches on the staff of UND, Ryan Kasowski.

The theme was best articulated by safeties coach and recruiting coordinator Joel Schwenzfeier who said of Kasowski’s work with the Green Wave that, “he does a good job with his guys of allowing them to become the leaders of the team by having ownership in decision making of some of the team things.” He then went on to explain the practical implications of that. In terms of empowering players, the coaches for UND, like Kasowski have found it better to instill a leader-centered culture as the basis of the program. Players in UND’s program get to help shape some of its logistics. From deciding what to wear as a team on the road, to determining select workout times, and other things day-to-day, the Fighting Hawks coaching staff has utilized Kasowski’s philosophy of empowering leaders.

As for Kasowski, that philosophy of empowering leaders is how he builds his program. He empowers his players to make decisions and work towards their common goal of success both on and off the field. Kasowski’s program is one that he is working to build full of not just student athletes but student leaders.

He goes out of his way to be involved in the offseason with many functions of UND Football. Whether it is a team camp, seven-on-seven clinic, coaches clinic, or anything else, Kasowski on a daily basis works to ensure his alma mater, UND, and his former team have as much exposure to his players as possible.

Several different coaches at media day called East Grand Forks and its surrounding area, home base, they could not be more correct in how they approach recruiting in the area. The time when UND spends the most with area coaches is typically over the offseason through various camps that occur over the summer at Memorial Stadium.

On his philosophy in practice Kasowski describes it as the following:

“I think it has just become our culture. It isn’t easy as a Head Coach to give responsibilities to players because most of us head coaches are control freaks but once I did that our players felt like it is just as much their program as it is mine. We do a lot of team building activities that put our players in leadership situations where we talk about some things that might make them uncomfortable but in the end will make them better leaders. We talk about how to treat women, how to be respectful, and how to get out of tough situations that can get you in trouble. This creates a bond between the older players and younger players and teaches those younger guys how to do the right thing. Our players sit in the front of the classroom in class, and we do not allow our players to curse. We hold a senior meeting that gives ownership to those seniors of the team’s success for that year.”

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