The North Tama Redhawks, just a little over a month after learning that they would be losing their football coach, have found steady leadership once again. The school has officially announced the hire of Dan Oltman as a high school social studies teacher and head football coach.
The hire was made after an extensive interview process which included meetings with teachers, administrators and coaches. The Redhawks can now look forward to 2012 with a little less anxiety, as they have a man in charge who has already hit the ground running - the team will be beginning summer workouts in the near future and competing in 7-on-7 drills in June and July at the University of Northern Iowa and Wartburg College.
Oltman comes to North Tama with a lot of coaching experience on his resume. After attending high school at Dike-New Hartford, Oltman completed his college coursework at UNI and graduated in 2001. He taught and coached in Springville for three years, Denver for seven years and spent last year at Woodward-Granger. At all three schools, he taught social studies and served as the JV & freshman head coach and varsity assistant for the football teams. This marks the first head coaching opportunity for Oltman, who is excited to take the reins.
"We have a lot of talent returning from last season, and we're excited about the upcoming year," Oltman said. "We have high expectations, and we're going to continue to grow as a team."
Oltman inherits a team that won a state title in 2010 and finished second in the district in 2011, and believes he will be able to continue to build on the tradition here at North Tama. As a matter of fact, the offense the Redhawks have been running was one of the main reasons Oltman took the job.
"When I came into this situation, I wanted to run a pistol wing-T offense, which is very similar to what North Tama has run in the past," Oltman said. "And looking through their playbook, I saw a lot of things that I could incorporate into this program, so it seemed to be a really good fit from the beginning."
Oltman's experience coaching at multiple levels and positions is something he hopes will give him the breadth of experience to make him a successful head coach. He has coached nearly every position on the field, at both the high school and junior high level, and is experienced on the offensive side of the ball. He played guard and nose tackle during his own high school career, meaning he understands the importance of players working hard to improve outside of the skill positions. And to anyone who knows Oltman and his work ethic, it comes as no surprise that he is already molding the team into a hard-working and dedicated group.
"We've already started maxing out, we've got the weight room organized and cleaned out, and our summer lifting program starts Monday," Oltman said. "I think the kids are excited about that, because we're going to work on agility, footwork, speed and conditioning, and we'll be hitting the weights four times a week."
The hard work in the offseason is something Oltman hopes will lead to increased dividends not only on the field, but in the classroom for many of his student-athletes.
"Come August, we're going to set team goals, weekly goals and academic goals for the upcoming season and school year," Oltman said.
To be a force in the district, the Redhawks will certainly need to be on top of their game.
"We have a tough district with Grundy Center, Gladbrook-Reinbeck, Belle Plaine, GMG and Iowa Valley," Oltman said. "It's not going to be an easy district, so we definitely have to come play every Friday night with everything we've got."
That doesn't mean the coach, and the team, aren't setting high goals for themselves, however. The coach didn't mince words when it came to the goals he will lay out for his squad in the 2012 season.
"We're going to be competitive every ballgame and shoot for the district title," Oltman said.
In addition to the in-district games, the Redhawks will face a non-district slate that would test even the most experienced head coach. Their schedule starts with a particularly brutal stretch against three very capable teams. North Tama faces Nashua-Plainfield, Aplington-Parkersburg and Lone Tree in its three opening games, beginning with the special Saturday night contest against N-P on August 18 at Wartburg College.
"Our first three games will be a great challenge, but I look at them as a great opportunity, because they will be a great measuring stick," Oltman said. "It's a gauntlet of a three-game stretch, but it is a great opportunity to show how far we've come and how far we need to go."