When he first visited the College, Dan Greenberg ’08 was not so sure about the small, secluded school. He was concerned it would feel like “a very preppy New England boarding school” and thought it would be “too stuffy academically.” By the end of his campus visit, however, he was sold. So fully sold, in fact, that now, 13 years later, he remains a part of Williams as head coach of men’s tennis.
As a student and an athlete, Greenberg was almost too impressive. He was the 2005 NESCAC Rookie of the Year, a three-time All-American, the 2008 NESCAC Player of the Yea
r and the 2008 ITA Northeast Player of the Year.
He studied English literature and creative writing at the College and was so accomplished in these areas of study that he was asked to read an original piece of creative writing at Commencement. His junior year, he served as a Junior Advisor (JA) for members of the class of 2011. When Greenberg first visited the College, he recognized that students “truly cared about what they [were] doing all the time.” Evidently, he became one of those passionate students.
Greenberg’s undergraduate experiences helped him develop into a coach who would lead the Ephs to success in tennis that they had not seen since 2002. However, the English major did not always intend to pursue a career in coaching. In fact, he was initially a pre-med student.
“My brother told me I was too selfish to be a doctor, so I dropped out of pre-med ASAP,” he said.
Greenberg changed the focus of his studies and concluded that what he most wanted was to avoid a desk job.
When the head coach position became available, “it hit me that coaching at Williams would be the perfect job for me, combining my love of tennis with my love of the liberal arts,” Greenberg said.
In addition to all of the practical wisdom he gained during an interim year he spent as an assistant coach at the University of North Carolina, he took lessons from his college experiences and applied them to coaching.
“Studying English taught me to appreciate character and creativity,” he said, “both of which go a long way on a tennis court and in life.”
From his time as a JA, he learned the importance of being the best version of oneself in a leadership position.
“Because you have presence and people are looking up to you, and because it’s just as easy to hurt as it is to help, you have to strive for that integrity every day,” he said.
The premium placed on integrity has been key in Greenberg’s life for a long time. In addition to his other athletic honors, he was named to the 2008 NESCAC All-Sportsmanship Team, a title recognizing student-athletes “who have demonstrated outstanding dedication to sportsmanship,” according to the NESCAC website.
Rohan Shastri ’17, whom Greenberg has coached for many years, reaffirmed Greenberg’s commitment to integrity.
“He has always focused on consistency, ownership and attitude, being brilliant at the basics,” Shastri said. “He stresses to his players that the four years at Williams are a process – both on and off the court. He really emphasizes that you need to grow as an individual while you’re spending your time here.”
As important as these lessons are, one of the greatest aspects of being on a team is the fun that coaches and players share. Greenberg recalled a particularly entertaining moment from the spring of 2013, when the seniors adopted a dog and brought it to his house on Halloween.
“After notifying them that they were graduating in six months, they notified me I’d be adopting her,” Greenberg said. “We named her Halloween – Halle for short – and she’s been my best, most frustrating friend ever since.” Memories like these show that Greenberg values fun in addition to skill and integrity.
“Dan is not just a great coach – he’s one of the most genuine people I’ve met,” Shastri said. “It is amazing how much his coaching and his persona have benefitted my athletic and academic experiences at Williams.”