The St. Olaf swimming team would spend the holidays training in Florida, arriving in Fort Lauderdale a few days before Christmas and returning when classes were about to resume.
There would be an exchange of gifts, adornments and church services to handle the Christmas spirit. There was also the tightrope to walk for coach Dave Hauck in allowing young men to have some fun in their off hours near the beach, and not too much fun.
“Dave did that brilliantly,’’ Jon Foss said. “His ability to enjoy being around and connecting with young people was the greatest of his many strengths.’’
Foss had learned to become an adept body surfer during earlier Florida visits with his family. He saw that the waves were perfect for that activity on one rainy afternoon and announced he was heading to the beach to body surf.
“None of the other 20 swimmers was interested,’’ Foss said. “Dave said, ‘I’ll go with you.’ He was sitting on the beach, reading his ‘Louie’, and I caught a wave and had one of the longest rides of my life. When I landed on the beach a few feet away, Dave said, ‘How did you do that, Eddie?’
“And he got up, ran in to change into his swimming suit, and spent the next 90 minutes getting down the techniques. He was 54 then, and by the time we were finished, he was a better body surfer than me.’’
Clarifications: A “Louie’’ to Hauck was one of Louis L’Amour’s 116 novels or short-story collections that was a constant presence with the coach. And “Eddie’’ – well, every St. Olaf swimmer had a nickname and Hauck saw Foss as the Oles’ version of Eddie Haskell.
Hauck, 87, long-time and legendary swimming and diving coach at St. Olaf, died Saturday after a period of declining health. He arrived at St. Olaf in 1966 and joined Tom Porter (football), Bob Gelle (basketball) and Jim Dimick (baseball) in becoming the Four Horsemen of St. Olaf coaching.
And none was more of a workhorse than Hauck.
Originally, he was hired to serve as St. Olaf’s gymnastics coach. In 1973, Title IX was arriving, men’s gymnastics was near the end, and Dave Hauck was named as the men’s swimming and diving coach.
“There were one or two winters when Dad was coaching both gymnastics and swimming,’’ his son Bob said. “He would give everyone workout instructions in the pool, then run across the concourse to oversee routines with the gymnasts.
“And, remember, he coached both the swimmers and the divers. When he was a student at Gustavus, he started off as a diver, but saw that he was faster than most of the swimmers, so he did both.’’
Dave Hauck’s hometown is Madison, Minn., a small town near the South Dakota. He learned to swim in the community pool that was built as a WPA project. “He bragged that he was fourth in line to get in on the day that pool opened,’’ Bob said.
Dave coached and taught for three years at Henderson High School, then for eight years back in Madison, before getting the job at St. Olaf. He was the football coach at those schools, and continued as an assistant to Porter – primarily defensive backs.
Early on, in 1968, Porter took a sabbatical and Hauck served as the head coach. The Oles were 5-2-1 (.688) that season, and Hauck enjoyed telling people he had the best football winning percentage in St. Olaf history.
Workhorse? Football assistant for 30 years, men’s swimming for four decades, women’s swimming for a quarter-century, softball coach for a half-dozen years, and a run as the golf coach.
“He said his responsibility as the golf coach was to drive the van,’’ Bob said. “Yet, one of the golfers in that van was Martha Nause and she wound up on the LPGA Tour.’’
Bob was an exceptional swimmer for his father at the same time as Foss [1983-87] and was training in California in 1988 for the Olympic Trials. The women’s swimming coach had quit, Dave called and asked Bob to join him in coaching the two programs with the Oles.
And that’s where Bob remains: the head of the swimming program (men’s and women’s) at St.Olaf – a Hauck in charge for 46 years.
The Oles were an MIAC swimming dynasty for a good share of that time with Dave as coach: Twenty straight MIAC titles (1980-1999) for the men, 28 total, and 15 MIAC titles for the women.
“He coached football through 1996 and it was a real passion for him, but I don’t think it fit his true personality,’’ Bob Hauck said. “In swimming, all Dad’s motivation was positive. The only time he would get loud was with encouragement.
“It can’t always be that way in football, as you know. Football coaches get hot.
“I remember seeing Dad upset on the sideline during a game, and firing his clipboard, and it stuck in the ground like a spear. And I said to myself, ‘Who is this man?’ ‘’
Who was this man?
He was the man that swimmers, divers and the rest of the athletes called “Haucker,’’ not coach.
He was the man that once received a congratulatory note from St. John’s football coach John Gagliardi that included the aside, “You’re my hero’’ – a note from a coaching legend called “John’’ by players who had observed for decades the manner in which the coach called “Haucker’’ carried himself.
Foss started teaching swimming techniques after St. Olaf and created the Foss Swim Schools that are now located in Minnesota, the Dakotas, Illinois and Missouri.
Yet, the swimming moment that he remembers above all was at the end of a 200-meter freestyle in his sophomore season -- in the seconds after he had blown away the field and swam a time that qualified him for the nationals.
“I popped my head up and there was Dave, crouched down, low as he could get, using his hands to hold my head,’’ Foss said. “And he was saying, ‘Waaaaaay to go, Eddie. Waaaaaay to go, Eddie.’
“At that point, that was the best moment of my life. The hair stood up on my neck. And when I heard that Dave had passed away, I saw him there in front of me – ‘Waaaaaay to go, Eddie’ – and my hair stood up again.’’
(Further details can be found at @athletics.stolaf.edu).