Football: Wheeler players happy Tony Klimczak taking over for big brother
By Candace Buckner Post-Tribune correspondent July 31, 2012 10:52PM
New Wheeler head coach Tony Klimczak talks with players between drills Monday morning at practice. Klimczak takes over for his brother Dan. | Jeffrey D. Nicholls~Sun-Times Media
This is the third of a week-long series letting region football fans get to know the new head coaches in some of the region’s most high-profile programs, as two-a-days begin. A new coach will be featured each day this week.
Updated: August 1, 2012 5:49PM
When news began to spread that Dan Klimczak was leaving Wheeler football, returning players such as Kyle Catherman could only think of one man to replace him.
“As soon as Coach K was gone, I was praying that ‘TK’ would get the job,” said Catherman, a rising senior captain and three-year starting offensive lineman. “I would’ve been devastated if I was going to have a new coach from a completely different school.”
“So when I heard ‘TK’ got the job, I was thrilled and ecstatic and excited.”
Don’t get lost in this alphabet soup — the transition from Coach K, now the South Central athletics director, to “TK” means that older brother Dan has been replaced by his younger sibling and longtime offensive coordinator, Tony Klimczak.
Known as “TK” to his players, Klimczak led his first full practice as head coach on Monday.
His role has changed. Before, big brother Dan handled all the administrative duties, such as prepping a practice schedule and organizing equipment. However, as the new man in charge, Klimczak had to spend two hours in the office on Sunday to prepare for the two-a-day practices.
Still, Klimczak, 34, remains the same energetic coach he was known for being before.
“I’m player friendly and I like to put players in a position to succeed and to have fun and to truly enjoy the game of football,” Klimczak said, then added with a touch of levity: “But I also yell quite a bit.”
“TK” was the mastermind behind Wheeler’s shotgun spread, no-huddle offense that perennially put more than 45 points on the scoreboard during the Bearcats’ domination of Greater South Shore Conference foes. Despite losing his senior starting quarterback midway through last season, Klimczak’s offense still averaged 37 points and helped the team march to its second sectional championship in four years. Wheeler finished 12-1 overall.
“Everyone just has to step up, trust each other and be on the same page and continue to work to get better,” Klimczak said about the upcoming season. “Understand the kids (who) were seniors last year are gone and they can’t just expect things to happen. The new guys have to make things happen.”
Catherman is just happy that one of those “new guys” is the same old “TK.”
“He’s a good person on and off the field, same as all our other coaches. It’s just great to have the Klimczaks a part of Wheeler football. We still have one… having ‘TK’ is a good thing.”