Shane Haak naturally gravitated toward a coaching career, considering he has spent his entire life with one of McHenry County’s most successful coaches.
But even the son of longtime Harvard football and wrestling coach Tim Haak could not have predicted he would be head coach of a wrestling program by age 22.
After walking through commencement at Monmouth College last spring and completing his student teaching at Woodstock North this fall, Haak is now heading the Thunder’s wrestling program.
“I didn’t really see this coming,” he said. “The last two years, I worked at Monmouth-Roseville as an assistant. I’m grateful to [Monmouth-Roseville] head coach Bob Reedey for giving me responsibilities with practices. We were kind of starting from the ground up there, too, so that prepared me well.”
North is 8-9 in dual meets, and the fourth-year program has 24 wrestlers, most of whom are freshmen.
“We want to continue to build on that,” said Haak, who was a North assistant coach in football. “I don’t know what they’ve done in the past, but with me helping with football, I was able to get some freshmen out. More than half our program are freshmen, and most of them are football players.”
Haak approached Woodstock North over spring break about doing his student teaching at the school. In the meantime, he applied for the head wrestling coaching position. His age did not prevent North from giving him a shot.
Haak has some Harvard flavor on his staff with former Hornets Rob Homola and Matt Streit as assistants. Woodstock graduate Tim Creighton also is an assistant. Haak graduated with his degree in physical education and will teach one class at North in the spring semester. He also hopes to substitute teach around District 200.
Tim Haak, a member of the Illinois High School Football Coaches Association and Illinois Wrestling Coaches and Officials Association halls of fame, got to coach his son in both sports for the Hornets. Now, Haak and his wife derive a different sort of satisfaction from watching Shane.
“Chris and I are very proud of him,” Tim said. “He has a vision for the program. For as young as he is, he knows what a program should look like. He has a passion for it.”
Shane also got engaged over the summer to Cassandra Arnold of Lake Geneva, Wis. He lives at home, where he can constantly gather more advice from his ever-present mentor.
“That’s huge talking to him,” Shane said. “Absolutely huge.”
Loftin to Oshkosh: Woodstock North quarterback Brian Loftin has committed to NCAA Division III Wisconsin-Oshkosh to continue his football career next season.
The Titans were 13-1 this season and won the Wisconsin Intercollegiate Athletic Conference. They lost in the NCAA D-III playoff semifinals. Loftin (6-foot, 185 pounds) will join former North teammate Ryan Baltes, a wide receiver, at Oshkosh.
“I’m really excited about it,” Loftin said. “I saw two of their games. They throw the ball a lot more than we did. It’s a good program to get into at this point.”
Loftin was a three-year starter for North and helped the Thunder to a 7-3 record in 2011 and a 7-4 record this season. The Thunder won a Class 5A first-round playoff game for the first time in school history.
Loftin completed 39 of 64 passes for 806 passes with seven touchdowns and four interceptions. He rushed for 721 yards out of the Thunder’s option attack.
Oshkosh runs a spread option offense, so Loftin will get a lot more chances to throw in college.
• Joe Stevenson is a senior sports writer for the Northwest Herald. He can be reached by email at email@example.com. You also can follow him on Twitter @nwh_JoePrepZone.