Lakes' new head coach will have experienced offense assistant

After 15 years at Lakes, Jason Ellerman has taken on the task of head football coach.

The title was a little unexpected after Jordan Eder resigned and Ellerman was promoted from defensive coordinator to the head job on May 20. On the positive side, he was left with an experienced hand to lead the offense.

Last December, after Wauconda's Dave Mills retired from his teaching job and left the school following 13 years as head football coach, Eder hired Mills to serve as Lakes offensive coordinator.

"So when I got the job, I let him know that I was going to keep him," Ellerman said. "He's been a huge asset to what we're doing."

Longtime friend Ray Gialo stepped in to lead the defense, giving Ellerman a whole new set of job duties.

"I would view myself as a CEO type of head coach," Ellerman joked. "It's definitely different. I was the D-coordinator for the last six years. My day-to-day football stuff is less. I'm involved in the planning, but Dave Mills and Ray Gialo, they kind of structure the practice. Once the whistle blows, I'm just the assistant, because I coach the DBs."

"Being the head coach, you are never off-duty. There's emails, there's something going on. It's constantly managing people - coaches, parents and kids."

Ellerman grew up on the Northwest side of Chicago. His father was a police officer and his mother a nurse. Even though his dad was a St. Patrick grad, Ellerman attended Loyola Academy and left school with a unique distinction.

"I graduated in 2000," Ellerman said. "The funny thing is, my brother's senior year and my senior year were the only two years coach John Hoerster did not make it to the playoffs. Me and my brother, there's a black cloud I guess."

Ellerman played in college at North Park and had the unique experience of playing safety as a freshman and sophomore, then linebacker, then finally a defensive end.

"You don't go from safety to defensive end, but I did," he said. "It's given me good experience. I've played every position on defense."

Ellerman's teaching career began at St. Patrick, thanks to his former college coach Dan Galante moving to the Northwest side school. He did his student teaching there under Gialo. Eventually, Ellerman was hired as a P.E. teacher at Lakes, thanks to connections with Gialo and former North Park teammate Kurt Rous, the longtime Grant head coach.

"Kurt Rous and I are very good friends," Ellerman said. "He's actually godfather to my son and we were college teammates."

One positive development for the program, Ellerman said, is the Lake Villa Timberwolves youth program has become the Lakes Junior Eagles. With more cooperation between the high school and youth teams, the numbers are way up on the freshman level this fall.

There was a brief lapse after 11 straight playoff appearances, but Lakes was back in the postseason last fall, losing to Mills' undefeated Wauconda squad in the first round.

For his first season as a head coach, Ellerman is using the slogan, "Just be ..."

"The No. 1 thing is I want our kids to be good people," Ellerman said. "So just be a good person. The mental toughness, the physical toughness - being tough and being a good person are my two big things I want our teams to be."

Twitter: @McGrawDHSports

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