Dan Chipka practically has the numbers memorized – 2-8, 2-8, 4-6, 4-6, 3-7, 1-9, 0-10.
Those are the season records for Waite’s football team covering the past seven years. Chipka, who was hired to replace Gardner Howard as the Indians’ head coach, wants to turn Waite into a winner. So did every other coach before him.
For that to happen, Chipka’s goal is to change the culture and expectations of the program. He said he wants to “get the student body, faculty and community excited about Waite football again.”
What do you expect a first-year head coach to say? Chipka wants everyone to know he means it. He has done his homework.
|New Waite football coach Dan Chipka, a former
Anthony Wayne and Blufton University gridiron
player, yells direction during a previous role as an
assistant at Bowsher. (Submitted photo)
“There was a time when Waite was a national power and football games were major events that everyone looked forward to,” he said. “To me, the biggest challenge is to get the entire community to buy into the vision I have and pull the rope in the same direction. One of my charges moving forward is, we will win as a program, not as a team.”
The Anthony Wayne High School grad, 26, who played tight end and linebacker for the Generals before graduating in 2006, said he has “a detailed vision and plan on how we’re going to turn things around and get it headed in a positive direction.”
Chipka made the transition to wide receiver at Bluffton University, because he was pretty much forced to play tight end at AW because it ran the wing-T offense and Bluffton didn’t. He said moving to receiver was a great fit.
“I wasn’t the biggest person,” he said, “but it was a benefit for me. My time at Bluffton went well. We didn’t win a whole lot of games, but I was voted team captain my senior year (in 2009). I credit going to Bluffton so much for molding me and shaping me as a man.”
Chipka graduated with a degree in education in 2010. He then played one season for the Continental Firehawks of the 10-team Continental Indoor Football League, as a receiver, before the owner sold the Fort Wayne, Ind.-based team.
“I was in the crossroads of my life,” Chipka recalled. “I was playing football for a living and not making much money, but at that point I was playing a game I’ve loved since I was a kid. I was playing under quite a few players who had short stints in the NFL and I was absorbing all of their experience and knowledge and the little things I could pick up day-to-day. I didn’t get much playing time, but the experience of practicing and watching them prepare for games was so rewarding.”
Chipka spent the past four years as an assistant at Bowsher. He started as an offensive assistant coach and then served as the Rebels’ offensive coordinator the past two years. Bowsher, which ran a pro-style offense using three running backs, went 8-2 last year and 6-4 in 2012.
Chipka has since brought on 15 assistant coaches – five at the freshman level - to help him turn Waite into a winner
“That’s something I’m very excited about,” he said of his staff. “The coaching staff, from day one, we’re all making sacrifices. We feel that’s going to put the student athletes in the best position to succeed. I want each position coach to teach one position. It’s critical that we have that. I was adamant about bringing in a large coaching staff. At times when coaches have to juggle between two and three position groups, it can get a little busy.”
Chipka said he’s been pleased with the athletes’ dedication in the offseason.
“We’re already through phase one of our offseason regiment,” he said. “Monday, Wednesday and Friday we were in the weight room, and Tuesdays and Thursdays were our speed training days. We’re offering study tables for any student who needs extra instruction. We’ve averaged 30-35 kids in the weight room every day; some days we’re pushing 50.
“Now it’s just about having more consistency with the turnout. The whole program, we all have to buy into what we have going on this year. That just has to carry over into the summer when we start getting outside.”
The Indians’ first official practice is Aug. 4, and they open the 2014 season at home against Genoa, a team that is sure to give Chipka’s inaugural squad a huge test. As far as Chipka’s concerned, August can’t get here soon enough.
“It certainly is a challenge taking over a program that has been sub .500 for a number of years,” he said. “I really think it’s just about getting a foundation built, letting the kids have an understanding of who you are and where you’re from. It’s just about establishing relationships with faculty, administration and the student athletes. We’re working to get better and establish championship habits from day one.”