Life has taken Ben DiMarco on an unlikely hockey journey from one island to another.
DiMarco started in the warmth of his oceanside island hometown of Galveston, Texas, moved on to college and the chill of Appleton, Wis., on to Sweden after graduation and now to the Nordic island town of Akureyri, Iceland.
DiMarco, who starred at forward for the Vikings from 2008-12, has parlayed his playing and coaching experience from his time at Lawrence into coaching the women’s national team in Iceland. DiMarco, who played in Sweden after graduation, was looking to play for Skautafélag Akureyrar in Iceland, and that job opened up the coaching opportunity.
“During the summer of 2013, the club was searching for a head coach for the women’s program as well as a forward to play for the men’s team,” DiMarco said. “After emailing and talking on the phone with the hockey director last summer, it became clear that I would be a perfect fit for both of these positions.”
DiMarco coached the Lawrence women’s hockey club team during his final three years on campus so he had experience behind the bench.
“The hockey director also mentioned that Ice Hockey Iceland was searching for a new head coach for the women’s national team,” DiMarco said. “When I arrived in Iceland in late September, the club helped me apply to be the head coach of the women’s national team for the 2013-14 season. Luckily, the circumstances and timing were right, and my experience coaching the women’s team at Lawrence ultimately won me the job.”
DiMarco credits his training with Lawrence head coach Mike Szkodzinski and his experience with Lawrence alumnus David Eddy in Lawrence’s Scholars in Business program as key components of his development.
“The Lawrence experience definitely taught me how to present myself and my ideas, as well as how to adapt to new and different situations,” DiMarco said. “While playing hockey at Lawrence, I observed coach Szkodzinski’s coaching style, and during my internship with Thomson Reuters in San Francisco, I worked closely with David Eddy, the company’s regional managing director. These two men have very different styles of leadership, and I developed much of my own approach to coaching through comparing and contrasting their methods.”
The first challenge for DiMarco in Iceland had nothing to do with coaching but a lot to do with name tags. Coaching more than 40 players and playing with 20 teammates, DiMarco had to learn lots of names, and let’s just say that these gals and guys aren’t named Sue or Bob or Dave. More like Guðrún, Heiðar and Ingþór. Good luck with that.
“Luckily, almost everyone in Iceland and on my teams speaks perfect English, so the language barrier has not been a problem while coaching or playing,” DiMarco said. “The best part of the new job is being able to get up every day and do something I love.”
Headed to MWC meet
The Lawrence track teams are headed to Cornell this weekend for the Midwest Conference Indoor Championships, and the Vikings are definitely looking to take a step up. The Lawrence men were eighth last season and the women took ninth.
The top performers looking for a title on the men’s side are Spencer Swick, JP Ranumas and Jonah Laursen as all three are ranked third in the league in their respective events. Swick is third in the weight throw with a toss of 46 feet, 10.25 inches, Ranumas is third in the 60-meter hurdles (8.74 seconds) and Laursen is third in the 5,000 (16:10.95).
On the women’s side, Anna Bolgrien is among the contenders in both the 60-meter hurdles and the 800. Elin Karlsson also leads a strong contingent in the distance events.
Lawrence women’s basketball standout Alex Deshler finished her career in pretty elite company. The senior guard is one of only three players in school history with 900 and 600 rebounds. Deshler finished ninth in career scoring with 909 points and fifth with 604 rebounds. The others to have done it Felice Porrata (1,186/645) and Lawrence Hall of Famer Gina Seegers (942/609).