The last time Dan Nolan coached a varsity football game his team won in convincing fashion-a 63-29 win versus arch rival St. Johnsbury Academy in THE GAME! After that game the respected Lyndon Institute coach decided to make a move to the bright lights of Texas High School football, coaching at Midland Lee High School-you know, the school that was in Friday Night Lights! Since that point, and his subsequent return to Vermont, where he now teaches in the Hartford school system, there have been a few opportunities but none came to fruition for the respected mentor. But now, purple will be his new, favorite color as Head Coach of the Oxbow Olympians!
“He was the heartbeat to our team. If not for him, I wouldn’t be where I am today. He’s helped me in so many categories other than football,” said Miguel Collazo at the time to The Caledonian Record. Nolan, who has spoken at several national sports forums, would be happy to know that Collazo is now a standout soldier working in South Korea for the US Army.
After a two-year hiatus the thirst to instruct again, to impart a library of football knowledge onto a group of young men.
I asked Dan Nolan this morning his thoughts on taking the job with the Olympians.
EB-With a layoff of over 2 years, and you being a football guy through and through, how does it feel to finally be given an opportunity to be a head coach again?
DN-Its really exciting. Taking some time away has been very difficult, but I think I have a greater appreciation of how fortunate we are to be able to be around young people and have the platform that coaches have.
I could not be more thrilled to be an Olympian!
EB-There will be some challenges as you start the program anew at Oxbow. What do you see as the earliest, perhaps biggest, obstacle?
DN-Establishing a mentality that we will not take a back seat to anyone is the first job. We will be Tough, Disciplined, and Selfless. That won’t happen over night, but that will be the goal from day one.
EB-The competition in Division 3 has always been tough at the top-see Woodstock, Windsor, how do you get our club to the level of consistency those teams are at?
DN-The Upper Valley is at the top of the VT HS football world right now with Hartford, BF, and Windsor winning titles last year. With re-alignment, the schedule is a bit more favorable than it was before. We’re going to give Oxbow a seat at the table.
EB-Who will be on the staff that you know of and has anyone from the current staff reached out to you yet?
DN-I accepted the job yesterday afternoon so I have not had a chance to get going on putting together a staff.
EB-What experiences will you bring from your time at NC, LI, and in Texas that will help you with beginning your program at Oxbow?
DN-I think back to starting the program at LI in the spring of 2008 never having done it before and as a result of that experience I am much more prepared this time around. Coaching at a 6A school in Texas is another animal altogether. A year in TX is worth 3-5 VT coaching years in terms of the time, investment, etc. My time at Lee was invaluable and I would never give it back.
EB-This is another coaching opportunity for you, and it seems like it may be a fit given your current teaching status.
DN-When I was 24 I went to the Jets coaching clinic at Fordham University in the Bronx. Herm Edwards was the coach at the time and during his speech he looked at the 100 or so coaches in the audience and said “most of you probably want to be head coaches, but I’ve got news for you, most of you will never do that.” My 24 year old brain thought he was crazy. Of course I would be a head coach, it was just a matter of time. I was really fortunate to get the Lyndon Institute job when I was 30, but I don’t think I realized how hard it can be to put it all together. I was offered the CVU head coaching job in 2015 but had to turn it down because of my living situation, the lack of a teaching position, and so forth. With this job, I can live in my house, keep my teaching job at Hartford, and do what I love to do. I just feel very appreciative of the opportunity.
So there it is. Dan Nolan is back! It’s good for Vermont football, and it’s even better for Oxbow Union High School!