WWS grad already busy recruiting in new job as Syracuse quarterbacks coach
An opportunity came along that was too good for Tim Lester to pass up.
After leading the Elmhurst College football team to its first postseason berth in program history, the Wheaton Warrenville South graduate was recently hired to be the quarterbacks coach at Syracuse University under first-year man Scott Shafer.
“I’m extremely excited to get back with Coach Shafer,” said Lester, who previously coached alongside Shafer at Western Michigan in 2005 and 2006, “and the opportunity to coach in the ACC is exciting. To get back with a bunch of guys I know well and have coached with in the past, it’s an exciting move for me and my family.”
Sealing the deal was the fact that his wife Dawn is from the New York area.
“It was really talking to my wife and making sure she was on board,” Lester said. “She is excited to be going back there and it will allow her to stay at home with our kids. That was a huge selling factor for me. It came at the perfect time.”
Despite looking forward to his next challenge, the 35-year-old Lester said it was difficult to break the news to the Bluejays team he was leaving behind Jan. 14.
“It was extremely hard, probably the hardest thing I’ve done to date,” he said. “I have spoken in front of those young men thousands of times and always been relaxed. When I got in front of them this time, I started sweating and shaking and tearing up. It was tough. It is such a phenomenal group of people at Elmhurst and a great group of players who did so many things.”
Lester leaves with especially fond memories of this past season, when the Bluejays qualified for the playoffs for the first time in program history and proceeded to win their first-round game.
“That was something not a lot of people thought could be done,” Lester said. “We believed in it, the president, dean and AD believed in it and the 120 guys believed in it. It was such a special year for us and to be a part of it was great.”
The former Division I quarterback at Western Michigan is now returning to the highest of collegiate levels. Lester said there is one thing that sets Division III athletics apart.
“The thing that is special about Division III is the kids,” he said. “There is a special strain of DNA in these young men who are not getting paid (in scholarships) to do that. They pay for a quality education and the opportunity to play. They are phenomenal people to be around.”
Lester was overjoyed to hear that Joe Adam was named the new Elmhurst College coach. Adam was the Bluejays defensive coordinator for the past five seasons.
“He was my right-hand man,” Lester said, “and I didn’t make too many decisions without him. He was a huge part of what we did. I’m really happy it happened that way. When I was told, I felt great about it.”
As for his new duties, he visited 11 states in his first nine days on the job as part of recruiting. When that slows down, his focus will shift to a smaller group of players then he is used to.
“I went from being in charge of 120 kids to three-to-five,” Lester said. “We just had our quarterback graduate and he is going on to the NFL. It will be fun. We will see what happens.”
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