Throughout his athletic career, D.J. Wolfram had plenty of admiration for the people who taught him the most.
“I always looked up to my coaches growing up – middle school, high school and collegiately,” he said. “They had such an impact on me and affected my life in such a positive way. Since I was an adolescent, I’ve thought, ‘This is what I want to do.’”
This month, Wolfram got that opportunity when he started his first head coaching job at NAIA Waldorf University in Forest City, Iowa. He will serve as the head cross country coach for the men’s and women’s teams along with the distance coach during track and field season.
Wolfram, a Richmond-Burton graduate, competed collegiately at Aurora University and spent the past two seasons at Judson University in Elgin, where he served as a graduate assistant coach and the acting distance coach.
“I want to emulate what [my coaches] have done for me,” Wolfram said.
This week, the Waldorf women’s cross country team was selected to finish fourth in the North Star Athletic Association, while the men were predicted to place fifth in the seven-team league.
“My goal for both the men’s and women’s teams is we want to win this conference in the next three years,” Wolfram said. “We’re building a culture of respect and family, and we want to have fun.”
The Warriors open the season Sept. 7 at Wartburg College’s John Kurtt Invite, where Wolfram’s teams will compete against head coach Ryan Chapman’s teams. Chapman coached Wolfram at Aurora University before taking over the Wartburg program.
“He’s been monumental in my success,” Wolfram said. “He’s answered my calls at all hours of the day, always willing to offer advice. I want to show off my squad to him.”
With a senior-heavy women’s roster and a young men’s team, Wolfram said he has similar hopes for both squads.
“I want to see effort,” he said. “I want to see the fire in the eyes, and I want to see the excitement that cross country season is here.”
Over the past week, Wolfram said he’s talked to more than two dozen high school recruits to sell the school.
Wolfram also has high expectations as the program’s leader.
“I want to be known as somebody who’s made a lasting impression,” he said. “I don’t do this for a paycheck. I do this to motivate and inspire and to positively impact lives. I don’t care if you’re the slowest person on the team or someone winning national championships. You’re going to be cared for greatly.”
Silber shines for Illini: It took only one half of soccer for Prairie Ridge grad Makena Silber to score her first goal of the season for Illinois.
Silber put a loose ball past the Loyola keeper in the Illini’s Aug. 22 season opener, a 3-1 victory against the Ramblers. The sophomore forward has helped Illinois to a 2-0 start to the season by taking six shots. As a Big Ten Conference All-Freshmen Team honoree a year ago, Silber led the Illini with 46 shots while scoring five goals and starting 17 of the team’s 20 matches.
Augie tennis picked No. 1: Division III Augustana College received seven of the possible nine first-place votes from league coaches and was chosen as the favorite to win the College Conference of Illinois and Wisconsin women’s tennis title.
Augie has won three of the past four league titles behind the play of junior Annie Timm (Prairie Ridge), who has the eighth-best singles winning percentage (.770) and 18th-best doubles winning percentage (.695) in school history. In two seasons, Timm has career records of 47-14 in singles and 41-18 in doubles.
• Barry Bottino writes a weekly column about local college athletes for the Northwest Herald. Write to him at email@example.com and follow @BarryOnCampus on Twitter.