As a coach, Wiens described himself as a motivator and a teacher. He said that each athlete has an idea of who they want to be on the track and he wants them to achieve personal goals because they want to, not because they have a coach who is yelling at them.

“I want the athletes to believe in what we’re doing,” Wiens said. “I want them to take a high level of responsibility and work hard for themselves.”

Wiens said he wants his athletes to understand the “why” behind every element of his coaching. He said that he chooses to teach about the effects of certain choices while leaving the decision-making up the athletes.

“I love it when my athletes have to learn,” Wiens said. “If they learn why I want them to do things, even if they learn the hard way, they will do them because they want to do them, because they want to succeed, not because I want it.”

Nate Wiens (center) coaches members of his cross country team. Wiens said he sees himself as a teacher and a motivator when he coaches. Photo by Kathy Alaya.Nate Wiens (center) coaches members of his team. Wiens said he sees himself as a teacher and a motivator when he coaches. Photo by Kathy Alaya.

This understanding also plays into how Wiens recruits for the team. Whenever athletes are interested in MidAmerica, he said he wants them to be prepared for MNU’s unique policies such as limitations on men and women being in the same dorm and mandatory chapel attendance as well as the positive effects of these standards.

“I try to tell the good and the bad, I want to be honest,” Wiens said. “I tell them about the rules on campus and why we have those rules.”

Whether an athlete is a Christian or not, Wiens said it is important to know that the team will be run with Christian principles. He said that he wants everybody coming into the team to know who he is and how he coaches.

As an undergraduate student, Wiens came to MNU to play basketball. He liked the idea of being able to play as a freshman and saw the university as a good fit because he attended a Nazarene church.

“I found after a few years of playing basketball that I was good at basketball, but I loved track,” Wiens said. “Track is more of a singular challenge. You kind of control your own destiny.”

Wiens said that he sees track and cross country as sports which are uniquely team-based and individually driven at the same time. In order for the team to succeed, Wiens said each member must “take care of his or her own business.”

Wiens earned his master's degree from University of Missouri Kansas City and is a certified track instructor through USA Track and Field.

“I really felt not only that I needed to know it, but I needed to know how to teach it,” Wiens said.

Between graduating from MidAmerica and returning as a coach, Wiens has coached Nebraska Kearney, University of California Riverside and Iowa State University.

“I’ve had a lot of experiences all the way from NAIA to [NCAA Division I] and each one presents its own challenges,” Wiens said. “Knowing what to do at each level to succeed, knowing the athletes, knowing what it all comes down to – I’ve realized it’s all about relationships.”

Wiens said that he sees his sport as an ongoing process in which coaches build up trust with their athletes. The relational aspect of the sport to him was essential and was a large factor in why he chose to return to MidAmerica as a coach.

“It’s such a grind at the top level,” Wiens said. “Here we can have more fun with training. At this level there is more comradery, more of a team aspect.”

This comradery can be seen in the team and among the coaching staff. Wiens expressed his gratitude towards Wade Watkins, Associate Head Coach of the Year, as well as his other coaches who volunteer their time because they believe in the program and want to see it succeed.

“I thank the Lord above for Wade Watkins,” Wiens said. “I know I have the best coaching staff in the conference and probably the nation.”

Wiens said that he has high aspirations for the MidAmerica track and cross country teams. He said that he is happy about where the team is now but aims is to become top-five in the nation as quickly as possible.

Recently, both the men’s and women’s indoor track team placed second in the Heart Conference Indoor Track and Field Championships.

“I believe we’ve set the bar pretty high,” Wiens said. “And we’re only just getting started.”