When Jon Niemic took the McHenry football head coaching position on an interim basis last summer, everything pointed toward him eventually stepping in full time.
Niemic had been offensive coordinator for two seasons under head coach Nat Zunkel, then had the 2018 season to further prove himself.
“He basically had a six-month interview,” Warriors athletic director Barry Burmeister said. “When we went looking for a coach, we didn’t have to look too far. He was more than willing to be able to take of advantage, to make an opportunity out of coming into a challenging situation.”
Niemic, a 2006 Crystal Lake South graduate, was officially hired as the Warriors head coach in the District 156 board meeting last week. He stepped in last summer when Zunkel resigned his positions as football coach and dean of students at McHenry East following his arrest on domestic battery charges.
The Warriors were 2-7 under Niemic, winning their final two games over Crystal Lake Central and Hampshire.
“We were kind of trending toward a positive note winning those last two games,” Niemic said. “If you go back to some other games we played, we were down to Prairie Ridge by seven at half, we were down to Jacobs by seven at half. We were on the right trajectory.”
Niemic, who teaches social studies, was head coach at Sioux City North in Iowa for two seasons. He took that job at age 26. He applied for the McHenry job and, although he did not get an interview, Burmeister asked him to come as Zunkel’s offensive coordinator.
Burmeister is impressed with Niemic’s passion and energy.
“He’s definitely not going to be outworked,” Burmeister said. “He sets high expectations for our kids and he demands accountability of our players and staff. That’s going to benefit our young men way beyond the field of play in their every-day lives.”
Niemic, whose older brother Rob Niemic is the Warriors varsity girls basketball coach, was grateful to gain another year of experience and then get the head position.
“The biggest thing is we need to make winning a habit,” Jon Niemic said. “There are five levels of winning: You learn to compete; you learn how to win; you learn how to handle winning; you learn how to win championships; and you learn how to sustain that. Last year we kind of took the first step, we learned how to compete. For the short term, we need to learn how to win games.”