CATLIN — Dan Hageman remembers the first time Joe Hageman patrolled a football sideline.
"Joe has been around football since he was three years old when he was on the sideline," Dan Hageman said. "So this is almost his 50th year with the program as well and it's an honor when you have children that follow in your footsteps."
While they have worked together various times since then, this upcoming season will be very special as Dan Hageman will celebrate his 50th year of coaching ... as an volunteer assistant in Joe's first year as head coach at Salt Fork.
"It is going to be a unique experience. This is actually the second time he is working with us because he worked with us in Tri-Valley," Joe Hageman said. "It is a very unique experience when you work with a family member, so I am looking forward to this opportunity.
"He was excited for me to have the opportunity and was looking forward to the opportunity to work with me on the football staff. Having done that in the past myself, he was looking for me to have that opportunity as a head coach."
Dan will work with both the offensive and defensive lines and help out in freshman and junior varsity football games. As far as working under his son, he is excited.
"The relationship is good enough that it wont's be a problem. I can accept that he is the head man," Dan said. "As an assistant coach, especially one in my position, I give advice whether I am asked or not and I will fire advice to a point that it might stick. He was the line coach when he first came to Catlin, so I have worked for him before and I know how the routine works."
"I guess it is funny in that way because growing up the roles were completely the opposite and growing up and watching him coach, I know that it will take everyone to work together," Joe said.
Dan says that he has a connection with all of the staff that goes back a long way.
"You have four assistant coaches, and they have been players that I have seen in four different decades," Dan said. "I told my wife after a practice, I am going to catch myself admiring what they are doing. It's like watching your kids grow up over again."
Along with the staff, it is the players that have kept Dan coming back to the field over and over again.
"There is no doubt in what keeps me coming back and that is the kids. There are good kids in Vermilion County and in Illinois and football teaches them lessons that are invaluable," Dan said. "I have things they can learn from and they readily accept everything I say. I can't tell you the last time I saw a kid that I thought was disrespectful, it just doesn't happen. Some of it I like to think was because of my time here, and most of it comes from how they were raised. You have parents who are doing things the right way and it is easy to see.
"Fifty years have been my blessing and I can't think of a better place to be. I have had great relationships with kids that continue to this today. If you are honest with kids and treat them right, they are going to treat you with respect and it has always been the way around here."
It is the connection that Dan has had with coaches and players in his time that Joe would like to duplicate.
"I saw the positive interaction he has with players in the present and players in the past," Joe said. "The many relationships he has built through all the sports he coached and I wanted to have those opportunities to build those relationships when I started my career."
Dan said that he has more advice to give and more memories for him and his wife, Donna, to experience.
"I will keep coming back as long as they will have me. I worked with (former Storm coaches) Brian Plotner and Chris Hodge and I will keep coming back," Dan said. "My wife, Donna, is the consummate coaches wife. When my kids were little, I didn't have to worry about things at home because it was always taken care of.
"I said to her that she started off as a coaches wife, then a players mom and became a coaches mom and next year, she will be a players grandmother, so she will have seen football through a lot of eyes."
Practices for the season start on Monday and Joe says that the seniors have been the key through the summer and will be again through the camp.
"I am very excited with this group of seniors. They have been great to work with and bought into some new things," Joe said. "They are hard workers and are happy to be together, so I am looking forward to working with the kids, but I think their leadership will be a big factor. They help guide the younger players along and help them learn the ropes and provide assistance for the coaches and it is great to have that."