From Willis to Winter, the culture continues for the undefeated Wartburg Knights

Published: Dec. 9, 2022 at 6:47 PM CST
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WAVERLY, Iowa (KCRG) - Wartburg head coach Chris Winter was a wide receiver for the Knights, but moved up for over a decade on Rick Willis’ coaching staff.

“The experience that I had as a player is what kept me around,” Winter said. “(Willis) was my head coach when I was a player, he was the guy who kind of brought me into coaching, helped me develop as a coach who I’ve learned everything from.”

Willis stepped into a new role as Vice President for Student Recruitment in the summer of 2021.

“A lot of what we’re doing this year still has to do with what Coach Willis developed,” Winter said.

Under Coach Winter, just like Coach Willis, the Knights put talent on the priority list, but it’s nowhere near as important as culture.

“A lot of teams will talk about being together and they’ll talk about their culture but I think we really live it,” said fifth-year lineman Jordan Downing. “I think Coach Winter deserves a lot of credit.”

Winter said he grew into an adult at Wartburg, and loves helping his players do the same.

“It’s not just about the football and the winning it’s about the culture of the family,” Winter said. “That’s my favorite part of the job honestly and when you have a season like this it’s like icing on the cake.”

Wartburg takes on Mount Union in the NCAA Division III National Semifinals on Saturday at 11 a.m.