Incoming changes come for football


Hartman talks to players and parents about his goals for LT’s football program at the Tuesday meeting (Valdes/LION).

Hayden Claesson and Grace Dekoker

With several critical seniors leaving the LT football team and an open head coach position, LT is looking to start a new chapter for Lions football. The first step was to begin searching for an individual to fill the coaching position, Athletic Director John Grundke said.

On March 18, the board of education announced that the varsity football head coaching job will be filled in by former Hinsdale Central High School varsity coach Dan Hartman. The vote to appoint him the position was unanimous. Hartman has experienced lots of success at our crosstown rival, bringing the Red Devils to the IHSA class 8A playoffs in all five of the years he was the head coach at Central.

“I think he’ll continue on with what we’ve done in the past. His biggest goal is to put kids in a situation where they can be successful,” Grundke said. “He wants them in a situation where they know what to do and they’ve done it before and that makes them successful. That’s true whether its offense, defense, specialty- he wants them to play fast and play aggressively.”

After Kurt Weinburg stepped down after 10 seasons of coaching the program, the coaching job at LT was highly sought after, with over 50 applicants applying for the job, with candidates ranging from small college coaches to assistant coaches from other high schools, Grundke said. Many coaches wanted to the opportunity of teaching and coaching at LT job because of the school’s size, as well as the tradition of athletic excellence LT athletes have established over the past decade. Eventually, the LT athletic department narrowed it down to 12 candidates, then six, and after three rounds of interviews, background checks, and phone calls to past employers, Hartman was named head coach. He was hired as a teacher as well, and will teach social studies courses at SC.

“I will bring the work ethic, dedication, intensity and leadership necessary to run a successful football program,” Hartman said to the Chicago Tribune. “Lyons Township is one of the top five teaching and coaching jobs in the state of Illinois, and I can’t wait to get started.”

Hartman wants to create a culture of winning by emphasizing leadership through student leaders, trust between teammates and 100% effort during both practices and games.

“He’s real big on everyday you need to improve, that the team’s success is based on the individual success,” Grundke said. “As long as you’re getting better everyday, the team will get better.”

Another technique Hartman will be bringing over from Hinsdale is also trying to break the “10-80-10” transition in football, where ten percent of the players are going above and beyond, with 80 percent doing what they are asked and ten percent are not fully committed. This is a common issue in sports teams across the country, particularly in football. One of Hartman’s goals for the future of LT’s program is to break this percentage, ultimately trying to get as many players possible going above and beyond for their team.

“All that we are asking is that you go as hard as you can from point A to point B for four to six seconds,” Hartman said in a meeting to the football team after he was hired. “If we get 11 guys on every play to do that, we will be really good.”

One of the most difficult challenges the team had to overcome this past season was multiple injuries on the varsity lineup. Varsity player Robert Lupetini ‘20 believes Hartman’s technique will help create a stronger team with more depth.

LT needs to focus on developing its players on all levels,” Lupetini said. [Where we] struggled last year was having ready backups for players. I think that this will be more focused on in the program with the new coaching staff.

Hinsdale Central’s success on the football field has grown immensely in the past five years under Hartman as head coach. He led the team to the Central’s first conference championship in the past 14 years, and previously was head coach at Evergreen Park High School where he helped their football team win their first ever conference championship. They also made appearances in the state quarter-final and semi-final games. His overall coaching record as head football coach is an impressive 67-22, featuring eight playoff appearances. He was also named Chicago Bears Coach of the Week in 2015.

Such a strong coaching career holds a lot of potential for LT’s future. Hinsdale Central and Evergreen Park had very different programs, and LT is different still from both those teams. Hartman’s success in his coaching career bodes well for LT, and the team is already excited to work with him next season, Lupetini said.

“We see Coach Hartman as someone who will make us better as individual players and as a team,” Lupetini said. “Coach Hartman has already started to change the program for the better. He is focused more on how the team will win with the players they have than with the style of play that we have used in the past. He also seems to want to focus on speed [more] than size which will benefit our team since we don’t have the massive players some other schools have. I think he will push us to be the best athletes we can be; he’s already having the team come early to school to work on strength and speed, and I can tell this mentality and drive will continue into the season.”

Grundke also optimistic on LT football’s future season.

“Success is measured by a lot of different ways. This past year I think we were extremely competitive,” he said. “You just need to be the best you can be individually and let wins and losses take care of themselves. Here at LT, we’re going to be competitive, and we’re going to be successful.”