Andy Umthum takes on the challenge of leading the Estherville Lincoln Central Football Team this season.
"I know it's been different for everyone,' he said. "But it's also exciting and a fresh start."
Umthum is the first head coach to come from outside the Estherville community since Jerry Shultz came to town in 1989. After Shultz's 20-year career, long-time assistant and defensive coach Chuck Fandel has held the reins the past four years.
Andy Umthum will be the head coach of the Estherville Lincoln Central Midgets for the 2013 football season.
Photo by David Swartz
As a youth, Umthum's family moved around a lot. He played middle school football at Eagle Grove before the family moved to Des Moines. At Dowling Catholic, his team won state in 2000. Umthum said he played mostly linebacker, but also saw time at defensive end. As needed, he also played some tight end and in the offensive line.
While he ran track and played basketball too, "football was my thing in high school," he said.
While at the University of Northern Iowa, Umthum took on the sport of rugby until he hurt his knee.
His first coaching gig came while UNI. Through a college course he was an assistant coach at NU High in Cedar Falls and stayed on for a second year.
After graduation, he landed at Bishop Heelan in Sioux City.
Umthum has spent the last six years with the Crusaders. In the first three years there, he taught K-8 physical education while also as an assistant varsity football and track coach. He also coached freshman and junior varsity basketball.
Three years ago, he took over as the strength and conditioning coach duties.
Umthum said it's always been one of his goals to be a head football coach.
A former Estherville resident, Pat Schiltz, brought the vacancy of head football coach to Umthun's attention.
His previous experience with the town of Estherville was in 2008 when Bishop Heelan and ELC were in the same district. The Crusaders found themselves in a 7-7 tie at halftime before outscoring ELC 34-0 in the second half. Bishop Heelan went on to win the Class 3A State that season.
ELC is now coming off a pair of 1-8 seasons.
However, Umthum inherits a team in which the 2012 junior varsity lost just one game.
Since arriving in Estherville, Umthum started the summer lifting program on June 3.
He said it's been a good experience with the incoming juniors and seniors participating heavily.
"The second phase is to work on the middle school program," he said.
Meanwhile high school players have been doing "skeleton" sessions.
As an experienced strength and conditioning coach, Umthum is stressing stretching and injury prevention.
"We try to build strength in the shoulder and neck," he said. "One of the goals is to stay healthy."
Umthum said he has several skill players ready to go, but depth in the front lines is a concern.
"No one has higher expectations than I do right now," he said. "This is brand new for everyone."
Umthum has nearly an entirely new coaching staff. Only varsity assistant Ryan Rezac and freshman coach Mark Reardon remain from last year's crew.
Austin Stiechen, who played center at UNI, will also be an assistant varsity coach in charge of the offense. Ryan Wirtz will handle offense for the freshman and sophomore squads. Ian McCloud also will be a sophomore coach while Reardon will be the freshman defense coach and special teams.