Fitchburg resident Daniel Greene received the 2019 United States Olympic & Paralympic Committee’s Volunteer Coach of the Year award for his work with the Madison Speedskating Club.
A native of New York, Greene began speed skating at the age of 11. In 1988, he made the U.S. National Developmental Team and was ranked in the top 15 in the country.
Greene quit the National Developmental Team after three months when he realized four more years of work was not going to get him to the 1992 Winter Olympics in Albertville, France. He then enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps.
After serving as a sergeant in the Marine Corps, Greene rediscovered speed skating and competed in masters’ events. He became a two-time national champion in 2018, taking first in his age class in the Long and Short Track National Championships.
“When you’re training to make a national team, it becomes a job,” he said. “You lose the love of the sport. When I got back into it, I loved it all over again.”
An unexpected health emergency led Greene to the coaching world. He became a U.S. Speedskating certified coach within six months of suffering a stroke in 2018.
Last year, Greene had seven of his skaters compete in their first meet, 10 compete at regional competitions and eight qualify for the age-class short track national championships. In addition to speed skating, he coaches flag football and baseball through the Fitchburg Recreation and Parks Department.
“Because I still skate, I think I can better relate to our athletes because they see me as a peer and not just a coach,” he said. “We work together to reach a common goal. I coach them, whether it’s to get new skills or take it to the next level, whether they want to have fun or work toward an Olympic team.”
Greene’s main goal is to help make the Midwest a central hub for speed skating. He now coaches full-time for the Madison Speedskating Club.
“My calling is to help people get the opportunities I had when I was young,” he said. “I am so humbled by this award. It’s great for me, my club, U.S. Speedskating and the state of Wisconsin.”