A familiar face will be guiding the Lyons football program this fall.
On Monday, the Lyons Township High School District 204 board of education unanimously approved the hiring of Dan Hartman as the new football coach and as a social studies teacher.
At Hinsdale Central, Hartman was 40-13 with five playoff berths in five seasons. However, the future of the Red Devils program remains uncertain after voters rejected a $166 million referendum last November. A $139.8 million referendum is on the April 2 ballot and could restore cuts to the football program and other sports, clubs and activities.
“I’m super excited for the change,” Hartman said. “As a head coach, you always pencil in the top five to 10 jobs in the state, and I always had LT on that list, and when something like that comes open, you’ve got to take a look at it.
“And with the circumstances, it was an amazing opportunity and it’s a program that’s going to continue to do great things. I can’t wait to get started.”
Hartman, who led Hinsdale Central’s girls lacrosse team to a state championship in 2018, will finish this season coaching that program. Lyons athletic director John Grundke said he didn’t know if Hartman would coach another sport at Lyons.
District 204 superintendent Tim Kilrea noted that the interview process was rigorous and said that Hartman will be “an excellent fit in the classroom and on the field.”
Hartman agreed that the hiring process was intensive, with three rounds of interviews, but it was well worth the effort.
“It’s obviously a really high-profile job in the state of Illinois, and I thought they did an excellent job in the process,” Hartman said. “We covered just about everything in those things, and it was a great experience.”
Although the situation at Hinsdale Central was a factor in Hartman’s decision, he said he preferred to focus on the caliber of the Lyons football coaching position.
“LT is a top-10 job, so whether or not the circumstances were going on with Hinsdale or not, this would have been a job I would have looked really hard at,” he said. “And with the circumstances at Hinsdale, it played a little bit of a role as well, but I think it’s a great opportunity.”
Lyons went 1-8 last season, was shut out twice and did not score more than 14 points in any game. Lyons had not had a one-win season since 1959.
Still, Hartman said there is plenty of talent to work with this season and moving forward.
“Numbers are definitely a strength in the program. Excellent feeder program, great group of coaches, working with all the different levels,” he said. “Kurt did a great job while he was here, and can’t wait to take it from where he left it. We’re looking to take it to that next level.”
Count Grundke among Hartman’s supporters.
“He’s done a lot of great things at a lot of other schools, so we’re excited to see what he can come in and do here,” Grundke said. “We know we’ve got a great program, so now it’s just another great coach in the line of coaches that we’ve had here, and we’re excited to have him here.”
Gregg Voss is a freelance reporter for Pioneer Press.