New coach unites football team


by David Morain

The Simpson Storm football program boasts a new look for the 2002 campaign. They have a new backfield, a new defensive scheme and most importantly a new head coach.

Jay Niemann comes to Simpson by way of the University of Northern Iowa, where he served as defensive coordinator and defensive secondary coach. His diligent approach to defense earned him a top 10 national ranking for his defensive squad three straight seasons as defensive coordinator at Drake University, as well as accolades from his players.

“Coach [Niemann] has a positive attitude on the field,” said senior linebacker and team captain Todd Samuels. “He is very detail-oriented. He pays attention to the little things.”

Looking at his impressive resume, one might think that Niemann might be strictly concerned with the defensive aspect of the game. However, he is quick to point out that you need to achieve balance to win football games.

“Championships are won with defense,” said Niemann, “but you have to be able to score. When push comes to shove, I’d say you probably have to rely on defense. When your ‘D’ plays solid, you always have a chance to win.”

Niemann takes the reins from Jim Williams, a fixture of Storm athletics for decades who retired last year. Williams’ tenure as head football coach produced five Division III playoff appearances and one Division III regional championship in 1997. However, the Storm have struggled recently and have not been back to the playoffs since. Coach Niemann looks to change all that.

“Obviously we want to get back to where we were in the mid-90’s,” said Niemann. “Our goal is to be competitive for the league championship every year. We want to be in contention come November, then finish it off.”

The Storm will employ a new-look defense on their road to the conference title, switching from a three-man to a four-man front. Coach Niemann decided on the new scheme after evaluating the talent and athleticism of the team. The players have responded well to the change.

“The 4-3 makes teams guess,” said senior defensive lineman Josh Lullmann. “We’re still in an attacking ‘D’. We have the talent to make it work, probably the best we’ve had in the four years I’ve been here. Coach Niemann knows what he’s doing. He’s been a part of winning programs wherever he goes.”

It is not just changes in the structure of the team that are different. The team has noticed changes off the field too.

“Coach Niemann is definitely a player’s coach,” said senior wide receiver and team captain Jesse Von Behren. “During two-a-days he’d always have a pep talk and talk about the philosophy of the game. He’s a good teacher. He’s all business on the field, but has an open-door policy off of it.”

Senior wide receiver Jeromy Keehn agrees. “Last year it was the offense, the defense and the special teams. This year Coach [Niemann] has us doing everything as a team.””For us to be competitive,” said Niemann, “we will need to rely on the team concept. The ‘D’ needs to step up. When they have their hands full, the offense has to step up. Everyone has to step up.”