Friday Night Alumni Tailgate to Honor Coach Nowak

Michael DeLeers, Staff Writer, Advanced Journalism

A few things things have remained constant at Notre Dame Academy since its conception in 1990, such as Mrs. Ann Hollenbach has taught biology, Mr. Harry Geyser has taught calculus, and Coach John Nowak has coached football. After the 2016-2017 school year, things will look a little different.

Nowak will be retiring from coaching football at Notre Dame; he will be leaving a decorated legacy. To pay respect for what Nowak has done, on Friday September 16, Notre Dame will be hosting an alumni tailgate dedicated to the retirement of Nowak. The tailgate will be held from 5:30 p.m. until game time; Nowak is rumored to make an appearance at the tailgate, and post-game there will be a celebration for Nowak at 1951 West. Furthermore, the tailgate is welcoming all former players, coaches, trainers and those who have known Nowak.

“Currently we have about a 100 RSVPS, which is a pretty good turnout,” said Mr. Geno McKenna, Director of Events and Alumni Relations at Notre Dame. With the tailgate around the corner, one cannot help but look back on Nowak’s career.

For the past 44 years, Nowak has continuously grown his athletes into much more than just football players. He has emphasized a simple philosophy of effort, discipline, and, most of all, respect.

Nowak has become an inspiration for athletes in the Notre Dame community because of his “ability to help kids grow as athletes and, more importantly, grow into adults,” said Charlie Rotherham, an alumnus from the Class of 2014.

This growth can be attributed to Nowak’s coaching philosophy and “tendency to be hard on kids,” commented Coach Aj Giovanetti, a former player and current assistant coach under Nowak.

Nowak is hard on his athletes because “he wants to see kids do their best and live up to their capabilities,” explained Giovanetti. In other words, wasting talent is not something Nowak enjoys doing.

Furthermore, it seems Nowak has not wasted much talent over his coaching years at Notre Dame.  With a record of 197-91, three state championships and four runner-ups, he has seen his share of victories.

Football has always been a perfect fit for Nowak because of his naturally driven nature.

“Football is my outlet and I love to win,” he said.  “I am a perfectionist, which means every week we’re always looking for something to improve upon.”

Nowak’s ability to never be completely satisfied is a driving force in the Notre Dame athletics program, and it pushes his athletes to reach the next level.

Although Notre Dame is losing its head coach for football, Nowak is also losing his central outlet: Notre Dame football.

On his first year off, Nowak plans to sit back, travel a bit and spend more time with his grandkids in the Twin Cities area and see how it feels to not be coaching anymore.

Nowak’s retirement will leave a gap in the Notre Dame football program, which has yet to be filled by anyone. Nowak hopes that “some of his staff is retained” after he leaves to help keep some structure within the program.

Although most recognize Nowak’s intensity and motivation, many others know there is more to the coach than meets the eye.

Most people do not know about all the students he has helped who were experiencing problems either at school or away from school. Nowak has a huge heart and that tends to get overlooked at times. He truly cares about his students and his athletes. He wants everyone to be successful in all aspects of their lives,” said Giovanetti.