Congratulations to Falcon Football Head Coach Jim Duggan for being named the Western Iowa Coach of the Year by the Omaha World Herald! Below is a terrific article by the Herald's Kevin White on Jim, his program, staff, influences and family.
From the entire SA Community and stalbertsportsfan.com, great job, Coach!
Kevin White; OWH Staff Writer: If his players are unclear why they're performing a drill in the stifling August sun until it's done to perfection, Jim Duggan spells it out every year on the final day of football camp.
Council Bluffs St. Albert football coach Jim Duggan's family includes, from left, 12-year-old son Sam, standing; daughter Megan, 10; wife Deb; and son Max, 6.
First, the head football coach at Council Bluffs St. Albert lines up every playoff trophy — 18 now — in chronological order. "There's a story behind every trophy," he says. "A lot of their dads or uncles or cousins or brothers played on a lot of those teams."
Then, he pops in the highlight tape of 1970 graduate Vince Leber, who is considered by many the school's greatest running back. He drowned tragically at the age of 31.
Finally, he inserts the DVD tribute to former Marine Sgt. Thomas Houser, a 2000 St. Albert graduate who died at the age of 22 fighting in Iraq.
"He was a 145-pound linebacker, but he'd smack you in the mouth, he really would," said Duggan, fighting his emotions at the memory. "He was a tough nut. You can be a little man and you can play the game as long as you've got a big heart."
In Duggan's seven years as either head coach or co-head coach at the school, St. Albert hasn't had an unusual amount of physically imposing players. But Duggan prides himself on getting every ounce out of every team, and the Falcons have made the playoffs all seven years.
Last season, St. Albert overcame long odds to win its second Class 1-A state championship in three years. For the direction the 45-year-old Duggan gives his players on the field and beyond, he is The World-Herald's western Iowa coach of the year for the 2006-07 school year.
The 1980 St. Albert graduate said the traditions on the final day of camp are about getting his athletes to embrace the big picture, rather than just the drudgery of the preseason.
"It's not about us, it's about everybody before us that worked just as hard and made all the sacrifices to be successful," he said. "We're all lucky to have the opportunity to be coaching and to be playing, and I think they realize that."
Duggan, who is a residential home builder and developer, owns an eight-year career record of 71-17 (.807). He was the co-coach at St. Albert with Ken Schreiber in 1997 and 1998. The next three seasons he took over the program himself, but then he accepted a job as an assistant at his alma mater, the University of South Dakota. Almost upon arriving, he realized college coaching wasn't for him.
"I guess to me it wasn't as personal as high school coaching," he said.
A high school job opened at Dyersville Beckman in eastern Iowa and he jumped on it, leading the Blazers to a 6-3 mark in 2002. But the Duggans were "homesick," and Jim accepted an assistant's job at Abraham Lincoln High School in Council Bluffs, where he spent two years.
In 2004, Duggan watched from the stands as Adam Kuhl led the Falcons to the 1-A title, the first football crown in Council Bluffs history.
"We sat with everybody and watched the game and enjoyed it thoroughly," he said. "We were proud of them, because those guys all had coached with us and all those kids had played under us."
When Kuhl moved on to Springfield Platteview, Duggan accepted a second tour of duty with the Falcons.
"It was a real easy decision for us to bring him back," said Schreiber, now the school's activities director. "His knowledge of the game is unbelievable, and his greatest strength is that he doesn't have to be part of every aspect of the game plan. He's willing to let others do their jobs."
Duggan's coach at USD, Dave Triplett, called St. Albert's championship-game win over Montezuma last November for the Iowa High School Sports Network. He said he hasn't been surprised at Duggan's success.
"He was a great leader," Triplett said. "We screwed up enough that we almost didn't give him a chance at quarterback. We moved him to receiver, because we had a kid at quarterback with better pure quarterback skills. We decided to move him back to quarterback and the impact he made was exceptional."
Still, being a college star doesn't necessarily translate to being a good coach.
"He understands what kids are capable of doing, and he communicates that well," Triplett said.
Duggan said he's simply one member of a staff of good communicators. The other varsity coaches are Kevin Culjat, Vince Rew, Jake Driver, Mike Kayl and Brian Butcher. The freshman coaches are Dale Scott and Tony Leick. Another aide, Randy Schmitz, was with the program from 2000 through last season.
"I feel guilty; I hate referring to them as assistant coaches because we consider ourselves a staff, one staff," Duggan said. "The thing that strikes me is their passion for the game and their passion for St. Albert and their passion for the kids to be successful. They're a very unique group of coaches.
"The success we've had around here is not because of me or because of any other, it's because of a group of coaches that believes in one another and has great chemistry and has a lot of fun together."
Duggan passes on more credit. In addition to Triplett and Schreiber, he mentions his high school coach and former WI coach of the year, Nick McGrain, along with former St. Albert head coach Marshall Scichilone as others from whom he's learned a great deal. He added that he also gets great support from home. He and his wife Deb have three children: Sam, 12; Megan, 10; and Max, 6. The former Deb Dodds was a track star at South Dakota.
"There's sacrifices that come from not being around as much," Jim Duggan said. "But Deb grew up around athletics, going to games. She loves being a part of St. Albert."
A few years away from his beloved Falcons only solidifies Jim Duggan's belief that he's exactly where he's supposed to be.
"When you can be coaching with the guys you're coaching with, in the school you graduated from, and you can walk the halls and feel the same feelings you felt in 1979. . . it's just a great feeling."
Bob Dyer, Glenwood
Darrell Burmeister, Nodaway Valley
Mitch Osborn, Harlan
Gaylord Schelling, Atlantic
Joyce Tiarks, Underwood
Keith Massey, CB Lewis Central
Lewie Curtis, Underwood
Jim Hinrich, Sioux City West
Don Lyons, Denison-Schleswig
Ken Janvrin, Panorama
Dave Kuhl, Missouri Valley
Bruce Henderson, Atlantic
Gail Hartigan, Treynor
Max Dougherty, Bedford
Phil Hummel, Woodbine
Gene Esser, Logan-Magnolia
Don Jenkins, Atlantic
Mike Kavars, CB St. Albert
Rod Hoegh, EH-Kimballton
Don Hicks, Stanton
Jim Wharton, AvoHa
Wayne Chandlee, C. Kuemper
Jack Blazek, Sidney
Curt Bladt, Harlan
Jim Merchant, CB L. Central
Bob Younger, Atlantic
Ken Winkler, Treynor
Percy Stielow, Corning
Don Reddel, Denison
Nick McGrain, CB St. Albert
Barry Brandt, Glidden
Bob Weber, Hamburg
Don Gruenwald, Harlan
Terry Eagen, Harlan
Terry Wichert, Treynor
Leon Plummer, Farragut
Larry Bullock, Manilla
John Dornon, Clarinda
Dick Harris, Oakland
Paul Bruns, Carroll
Kevin White, Staff Writer; Omaha World Herald