Maintaining a positive attitude and having a great work ethic has helped Stephen Schram, head coach of the women’s tennis team, achieve the goals he has set for himself. He learned to stay positive from one of his coaches and he now preaches it to his team.
“One of the biggest influences in my life was one of the coaches I worked with for four or five years during my junior career,” said Schram. “Every day in practice and in matches, we talked about attitude and work ethic and those were the two main elements to be successful in tennis and it stuck with me since.”
Originally from Zanesville, Ohio, 50 miles southeast of Columbus, Schram started playing tennis at a young age. His family decided that getting him into sports would be good for him. Tennis was one of those sports, and he has been in love ever since.
“I started playing tennis when I was about 7-years-old. I took private tennis lessons and played in different group settings at country clubs and played a lot of junior tournaments as well,” said Schram. “I really liked it because of being individual and being out there by myself.”
Schram attended Florida Gulf Coast University in Fort Myers, Fla. and graduated in 2006 with a bachelor’s in political science. It was in college that Schram realized he wanted to pursue a coaching career.
“During my second year of college, I figured since I loved the game so much I wanted to stay in the game, and, luckily enough, I was able to become an assistant coach right after I graduated,” said Schram. “I started as an assistant for both the men and women’s team at Wofford College in South Carolina and stuck with it since.”
As an assistant coach, Schram began to develop his coaching style, which he would use moving forward in his new profession. He realized that being positive and working hard paid off not just for coaches, but also the players. Yet, the transition from player to coach still provided Schram with an enormous challenge.
“It’s a different transition because you’re more of a leader but you have to really separate yourself from the players and that was probably the biggest element I had to work on,” said Schram, “But after a year or so as a college coach, I was able to distinguish myself.”
Schram is completing his first year at NSU, but it has been his goal to coach in South Florida ever since he graduated from FGCU.
“I always told myself every day ‘You have got to work hard. You have to put the time and effort into it to get back down to South Florida and that opportunity will open up,’” said Schram. “I’m familiar with the area, all of South Florida. I played in tournaments down here so, from a recruiting standpoint, it’s definitely beneficial to know the area.”
He’s been able to reflect on the season the team has had so far, to help evaluate each of his players and the program moving toward the future. Schram is happy with the progress the team has made since last year but knows there is still plenty of work ahead for them.
“Overall, I think we’ve had a very good season. I took over a team that was 8-14 last year so it’s been a big turnaround. I give a lot of the credit to the girls for changing the culture of the team,” said Schram.
Once the season ends, Schram’s job will focus on bringing in new athletes to continue the program’s future success. This was another reason why Schram chose South Florida.
“I want to recruit the most highly qualified student-athletes and bring in players that are going to get the job done on the court but also in the classroom as well,” he said. “I feel very confident that this will take place but it doesn’t happen overnight. In two to three years, we will have a very good chance at competing for a national title.”
Schram wants to help develop not only tennis players but individuals. He is a coach who wants to bring out the best in his student-athletes. His philosophy is a simple one but it means a lot to him and his team.
“Be the best you can be. No matter what you do,” Schram said. “You have to have good work ethic and a positive attitude to be successful, and I try to instill that every day in practice.”