OXFORD, Ohio - In his 30th season at Miami University, women's soccer coach Bobby Kramig still can't wait to get up and go to work in the morning.
"I absolutely love my job," he said. "I can't imagine doing anything else. I can't imagine doing it anywhere else."
Kramig, who is the most tenured coach at Miami, has reason to be excited as of late. The RedHawks are tied for their best start in program history, sitting atop the Mid-American Conference with a 14-2-0 overall record and an 8-0-0 league mark. The team has won a program-record nine straight matches, dating back to Sept. 16, and with three games remaining in the regular season, there's a chance it will host the MAC Tournament in November.
"We have good leadership on the team and we have kids with good values on this team," Kramig said. "They get it."
The coach continued, "They understand what it takes to win. They want to get better. They are committed not only to doing well as a team, but also committed to each other as teammates. That's what I mean when I say they get it."
Kramig, who also coached the men's team from 1983 until it was eliminated in 1998 due to budget cuts, ranks this year's team up there with the 1986 and 1994 men's teams, which both won MAC championships. He also said it compares to the 2002 women's team, which he calls the best he's ever coached. That year, the RedHawks won the MAC title and beat Michigan State in the first round of the NCAA Tournament.
But Kramig is careful not to look ahead too much. The veteran coach has been here before.
During the past 15 years with the women's team, Kramig has guided the RedHawks to three MAC Tournament titles and one regular season MAC Championship. He's posted an overall record of 154-124-21 (entering 2012), developing a new program in 1997 into one of the best in the conference today.
However, winning games and making postseason runs isn't what it's all about for Kramig. The relationships he's made and continued for three decades are what matters to the veteran coach.
"That's become almost the best part of the job is seeing the people that have come through this program that have remained connected with this program that have gone on to do well and really value the experience they had here," he said. "To develop those relationships and maintain those relationships, that's the best part of it."
Current assistant coach and former Miami player Nate Lie ('00), who played under Kramig, added, "He cares for the kids beyond soccer. They're not just commodities, they're not just assets, he cares for them as people both in their time here and in their next phase of life. And he's been really involved in helping them find employment, grad school, he's the first person to write a letter of recommendation."
During his time with the women's team, Kramig has mentored 43 All-MAC players, 20 NSCAA All-Great Lakes Team honorees and 25 first-team OCSA All-Ohio Team selections. He has also coached two NSCAA All-Americans, Andrea Cunningham and Danielle Berkemeier, who are now both in the Miami Athletic Hall of Fame.
This season, Kramig has another handful of players who will be up for all-conference awards yet again.
Senior Jess Kodiak, juniors Kayla Zakrzewski and Katy Dolesh and sophomore Kelsey Dinges, along with freshman Haley Walter have all scored more than six goals apiece this season and have combined for 31 assists.
Those stars and the rest of the team look to continue their hot streak Friday, Oct. 19 at Central Michigan, which is 7-1 in conference play and in first place in the MAC's West Division.
"I like this team. I like this team a lot," Kramig said. "It's a good team and it's a good team because we have good kids."
The RedHawks finish the regular season hosting Bowling Green Sunday, Oct. 21 and Ball State Thursday, Oct. 25.