Highland Park hires Dan Woulfe as Giants football coach

Dan Woulfe was three days from being out of education.

Now he finds himself set to lead Highland Park's varsity football team and teach physical education.

Woulfe, an Air Force graduate who led Westmont's football program from 2017-20, was approved by the Township High School District 113 on April 26.

At Highland Park, Woulfe succeeds head coach Davy Lindquist, a former player for the Giants (and for the University of Illinois' 2008 Rose Bowl team), who stepped away from the position due to family reasons, according to athletic director Paul Harris.

In Lindquist's three full seasons, from 2018-21, Highland Park went 4-5 each time, and went 2-2 in the abbreviated 2021 spring football season.

Woulfe, 44, praised Lindquist's ability to establish a youth football program, with Deerfield High School, which is something Woulfe neither inherited nor could implement in Westmont, where numbers were low.

"I'm just excited to be back in football," said Woulfe, a native of Healdton, Oklahoma. "I felt a little bit like football was taken away from me, and to get the opportunity to coach at a place like Highland Park, it's got me re-energized."

Woulfe went 11-22 at Westmont, his first head coaching position after assistant coaching jobs at Metea Valley, Waubonsie Valley and Oswego East, specializing in defensive secondary work.

In 2018 the Sentinels went 5-4 - a record Illinois High School Football Coaches Association Hall of Famer Otto Zeman was unable to manufacture in four seasons at Westmont - but missed the playoffs due to low playoff points.

Woulfe would have remained at Westmont in 2021, but was "reduced in force" to the point where it was not financially feasible to remain.

Woulfe and his wife, Lacy, determined a deadline of July 9, 2021, to find another school job or the couple would return to Oklahoma and Dan Woulfe would return to being a truck driver, which he did before joining the service.

Woulfe served with the 101st Airborne in Fort Campbell, Kentucky. He also has led his own landscaping company.

On July 6, 2021, three days before the Woulfes' deadline, Morton West offered Dan a position as dean of students and assistant athletic director.

"Dan's humility and work ethic attracted us to him. His military experience is a great fit for our community, as we serve many military families stationed at Fort Sheridan," Harris said.

"With his experience and versatility, Dan is well suited to be an educator and coach at Highland Park High School. He is dedicated to student improvement, and his own professional development. The grit and resilience he has shown throughout his professional career will serve as a great example to our students," Harris said.

Woulfe was looking forward to taking over a large group of sophomore players and have them for two full seasons.

He looks to instill what he called a "mantra" of commitment, resilience, energy and work ethic: "CREW," he said.

"That's what our core values are, and we use it as a crew mentality," Woulfe said. "Our guys together are going to try to accomplish that task."

He will run a spread offense, but take advantage of what the defense allows. On the other side of the ball he stresses being sound fundamentally.

"I want to be a good tackling team," Woulfe said.

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