Grantsburg coach receives 2021 Coach of the Year honors

Natalie (Peterson) Doornink

Natalie (Peterson) Doornink has been selected by the Wisconsin Cross Country Coaches Association as the recipient of the Coaches Association 2021 Boys team Cross Country Coach of the Year.

This past weekend was the annual Wisconsin Cross Country Coaches Clinic and awards. The 2021 cross-country season put Grantsburg on the map with the team and individual performances. Head boys and girls Coach Natalie Doornink was honored with the 2021 Wisconsin Cross Country Coaches 'Coach of the Year' award for her development and success with the boys team. The association recognizes coaches at the state championship level with successful programs. The association nominates two coaches in the district and the association votes for the winning recipient. Natalie completed her second year as the Pirate head coach for both the girls and boys teams and was nominated by the Coaches Association for the boys and girls team award categories. 

"I did not think the 2021 season could possibly get any better, and then this!" Doornink said after receiving the award.

Coach Doornink cited several highlights of the past year, including the Pirate girls and boys team being Lakeland Conference champions. The girls team was also the sectional runners up, while the Grantsburg boys team were the sectional champions, eventually earning a 2021 Wisconsin State runner-up title.

She also noted that three Pirate athletes advanced individually to the Wisconsin State Meet - Chase Doornink, Noelle Doornink, Will Gerber - who placed 4th overall for Division 3.

“And, that senior Will Gerber was the 2021 All-State Honorable Mention and 2021 Wisconsin Runner of the Year award recipient!” Doornink added.

"I get to work with amazing kids and help them develop as runners. The best is to watch them light up and realize their own personal potential. As a coach I am able to encourage each of them to use their God-given ability and to perform at their best." 

Doornink said the reason for their success this season was in part due to consistency and effort with their training, and what she calls a ‘team family culture,’ and celebrating each teammates improved performances. 

“It is all about what we learn about ourselves through running and keeping the joy in the process,” she said. 

Doornink is a Grantsburg alum who moved from Mound Westonka as a varsity cross country athlete in middle school and later moved to Grantsburg as a freshmen and trained under her dad, Coach Chuck Peterson '94-'97 as a State athlete in both cross country and track and field, as well as the USATF indoor track All- American, Doornink continued competing collegiately at Carthage College and running at the NCAA Nationals in the 400 and 4 x 400 events. Doornink served as the Assistant Cross Country Coach for one season at the Prairie School in Racine before moving back to Grantsburg. Doornink experience growing up with cross country and training programs much of her life have attributed to her success and love for the sport. 

"I know firsthand the importance of coaching from the heart and the impact that my role has on the lives of each athlete that I am fortunate to coach. I am thankful to have my dad, Coach Chuck, and running coaches in my life who valued the athlete first, and that is why I succeeded in running and continue to have a passion for the sport today,” she said. 

“Natalie Doornink is a passionate and dedicated coach,” Grantsburg athletic director Mike Amundson said. “She works to get the most out of our athletes and provides them with training and competition strategies that allow them to achieve.”