Brummer named next Okoboji football coach

Wednesday, June 8, 2011
Sam Brummer

What newly hired Okoboji head football coach Sam Brummer lacks in experience, the 22-year-old most certainly should be able to make up for with the excitement and energy level he brings to the position.

"Sam has got a great passion for the game of football," said Okoboji athletic director Ryan Paulsen. "He's got a tremendous background playing in one of the best programs in the state at Harlan High School and then being a player at Buena Vista University. He's been very patient during this entire interview process and we like where our program is at heading into the fall."

Brummer's age threw a wrench into the equation early on, but in the end his knowledge of the game and an unbelievable desire to work with Pioneer students and athletes made for an easy decision for Paulsen, Okoboji dean of students Justin Bouse and the rest of the school board.

"Well we were confident from the beginning that Sam could be our head coach," said Paulsen. "We just knew that being a first year teacher and being a head football coach would put an awful lot on his plate early on in the season. After careful deliberation, we came to the conclusion that if anybody could be a first year teacher and head football coach that Sam could, so we're really excited about that."

Taking over for departed head coach Travis Schipper, who led Okoboji to the 2008 Class 2-A quarterfinals, the Harlan, Iowa native grew up in a football hotbed, spending four years under the watchful eyes of Hall of Famer Curt Bladt. Brummer was a member of three state championship teams for the Cyclones, earning second team All-State honors by the Des Moines Register as a senior. Harlan lost only one game over his prep career. In addition to football, he also had a lot of success in track and swimming in high school.

"Coach Bladt was amazing," said Brummer. "He's probably the greatest coach in the state of Iowa. He's won 12 state championships and had eight runners-up and probably has the best win-loss percentage in the state. I learned a lot from him in four years and I got to taste that success, so hopefully I can bring that success up to Okoboji in time."

Brummer spent his college career playing middle linebacker for Buena Vista. He accumulated 55 tackles over the course of his four-year career with the Beavers, playing in 23 games, including eight as a senior. He recently graduated from BVU with a Bachelor's degree in elementary education and will be an assistant fifth grade language arts teacher at Okoboji Middle School along with his coaching duties.

"I've always wanted to be a teacher and a coach and in having those experiences in Harlan of setting the foundation of having good experiences with coaches and teachers it got me started thinking about it," said Brummer. "You always have a role model in high school and college, and I've wanted to be that type of person growing up, and so I've been a natural fit to being a teacher and a coach."

Brummer's coaching staff consists of three assistants at this point with one more open spot that has yet to be secured. 2004 Okoboji graduate Jay Carney has been hired as an assistant along with Brian Bjorkland and Tyson Leiss. Leiss will also fill at special education position at Okoboji.

With five different coaches on staff, a lot still has yet to be determined.

"We're still kind of up in the air," said Brummer. "We're planning on a lot of ideas, but we have to see what our personnel is like and see what they're suited for, and then we'll adapt to that and what we're leaning towards."

With him being new to the area, Brummer is eager to meet all of his players, their parents and members of the community.

"I've met some of the kids with the lifting (program) but because I was still at BV I had other obligations, so I haven't met any of the parents yet," he said. "But I would love to hear from them and talk about what they expect of the program."

Brummer and Paulsen are ecstatic about a weight lifting program starting up this summer with Levi Markwardt at the Athletic Republic and how beneficial it will be to all of the sports programs that the Pioneers offer.

"All of our coaches are very, very excited," said Paulsen. "We're very much onboard with this program and I think the public is excited as well because Levi brings a ton of credibility. It is an easy sell to buy into because of the credibility that Levi has in this area."

"We just got done with all of the tests to give us a starting point and have just started with all of the lifting. Then we'll do a post-test when it's all over with," Brummer added. "It's a very good program and I'm looking forward to seeing how the kids do at the end of the eight-week process."

With the start of fall football camp just two months away, Brummer is chomping at the bit to get on the field as coach for the first time.

"I'm really excited about the opportunity to be the head coach," he said. "You don't hear of very many 22-year-old head coaches, but I'm ready to grab the bull by the horns and see what we can do this season."

Paulsen says that intensity and passion for the sport is the main thing that quickly separated him from the rest of the candidates.

"Sam is a young guy that just got done playing football, so his passion is probably higher than ever," said the Okoboji athletic director. "So now he has to fulfill that need for football and there is no better way than to coach. He's a single guy and I think he really wants to put a lot of time into coaching at Okoboji, and his dedication to the kids is really a beautiful thing."

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