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Head Football Coach
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Head Junior Varsity Coach
Then, in high school, O'Shea was too good to leave off the varsity squad as a sophomore, so Wheeler coach Dan Klimczak moved him to receiver for a year before then-quarterback Mike DeSimone graduated.
"It's been an absolutely outstanding career for Sam," Klimczak said. "Football is a game he absolutely excels at and thrives at," Klimczak said.
Coach: Dan Klimczak (5th year at Wheeler & Overall; Career 36-9)
The offensive line lost a lot of talent from last year, but Coach Klimczak is confident in the group this season. Though smaller than last season, he feels they are athletic and tough and will get the job done. At most smaller schools, kids are forced to play both ways due to the size of the roster. This is the case at Wheeler as Coach Klimczak will be forced to trust players to play both offense and defense.
Wheeler football coach Dan Klimczak directs the team during an afternoon scrimmage as they prepare for their sectional game.
Seeing the faces and hearing the stories at his grandfather's funeral, Dan Klimczak knew then he wanted to be a high school football coach. The revelation came when he was 16 years old and in his sophomore year at South Central High School. Dan heard how his grandfather had influenced former Slicers players, how he had served as a mentor to so many different people over the years. "It was Christmas Eve, and there were scores of his ex-players there," Dan Klimczak recalled. At the age of 33, Klimczak is in his fourth season as the head football coach at Wheeler. In 44 games, his Bearcats have won 36 of them and lost just eight. Wheeler travels to Rensselaer tonight to play in its second-ever sectional championship game. The first came two years ago under Klimczak's leadership. "I really do think that success is contagious and the attitude that players possess going into the games and the offseason is contagious," Klimczak said. Klimczak, of course, points to the staff of coaches he's built around him. When Klimczak took over the program, only one holdover from the previous coaching staff remained. "I have a trusting relationship with my brother and my best friend," Klimczak said. "It's just a great situation," Klimczak said. "We're all buddies, but we're here to do a job, and we work well together." Klimczak talks about "buy-in" and how the players truly listen to their coaches and mentally digest what they're being told. It's not a matter of reinventing the wheel in terms of coaching, but it probably has something to do with the way Klimczak and his coaching staff relate to their players. "The support structure we have is tremendous; I can't say enough about it," Klimczak said. Perhaps it's fitting that Klimczak has taken over such a young program at such a young stage in his coaching career. He undoubtedly is leaving his impression on the program, but it seems to be leaving one on him, too. "It's been really neat stepping into a program that's still in its infancy that had a great groundwork already set and to step in and take the reins and say, 'Here's where we're going now,' " Klimczak said.
Wheeler officially has named Dan Klimczak as its football coach. The Union Township school board approved his hire on Wednesday night.The Post-Tribune last week reported Klimczak would succeed Phil Mason. "Being a head coach has been a dream of mine since I was a young boy," said Klimczak, one of several members of his family to star at South Central and the grandson of a former LaPorte coach. "Wheeler is a program that is growing.They're really starting to build a strong tradition.It's really appealing as a young coach.My family and I are elated." Klimczak spent six seasons as a coach at Valparaiso, most recently as the junior varsity head coach, varsity defensive line coach and assistant strength coach.The St. Joseph's College graduate also spent one season as an assistant at Knox. Klimczak, who turns 30 in August, will teach social studies and U.S. government at Wheeler.He still resides in Union Mills. "Any time you're able to work under a coach like (Valparaiso) Coach (Mark) Hoffman, it's really a benefit," Klimczak said. "Being a graduate of South Central, I prefer a small-school atmosphere." Klimczak has met with several players informally, and has a meeting scheduled for tonight with the players and their parents. "I try to build strong relationships with everyone involved - players, their families, the coaches, the administration," he said. "I'm a people person."You're always looking for ways to improve," Klimczak said.
HIGH SCHOOL FOOTBALL: Wheeler expected to hire Valparaiso's Klimczak Dan Klimczak is expected to be hired as the new head football coach at Wheeler on Wednesday. Three sources with intimate knowledge of the hiring process confirmed that Klimczak, currently an assistant coach at Valparaiso High School, has been chosen to replace Phil Mason, who left last month to coach his son as an assistant at Andrean. Klimczak, a South Central High School product and a 1999 graduate of St. Joseph's College, is the head junior varsity coach at Valparaiso, as well as the defensive line and assistant strength training coach for the varsity.He's been at Valparaiso for six seasons, after one year at Knox. Klimczak, who turns 30 in August, still lives in Union Mills, where he has continued the family tradition of football success in LaPorte County, dating back to the 1950s, when his grandfather, Stan Klimczak Sr., began a 19-year coaching career at LaPorte.Dan and his three brothers -