LEMONT – Brett Nagel wouldn’t be the football player he is without Eric Michaelsen.
As one of the best players to come through the halls of Lemont High School during the Indians’ recent run of success on the gridiron, Nagel is well aware of the impact Michaelsen has had on the football program as its coach.
“He really made me into the player I am and gave me the opportunity to play college football,” said Nagel, who went on to play at Northwestern and is now finishing his career at Truman State. “And he totally turned the program around. He has done incredible things.
“He has molded so many great players and great teams, both conference championship teams and state finalists. He did an awesome job and I loved playing for him. I can’t say enough good things about him and his legacy will forever be remembered there.”
Going forward, Michaelsen will have the opportunity to reach an even greater audience after he recently was selected as Lemont’s next principal, replacing Thomas Trengove, who will retire June 30, 2014.
“It’s something that has been a career goal,” Michaelsen said. “It’s something that as I looked at it and thought about it, it was an opportunity to meet that kind of career goal.”
The current Director of Guidance, his future role will present a new challenge.
“It’s exciting,” he said. “I love Lemont high school and it’s an opportunity for me to be involved with all aspects of the school.”
Michaelsen leaves behind a 20-year career as a head football coach (and 10 years as an assistant), the past 12 of which came at Lemont. He also had previous stints at Walther Lutheran and Detroit Lutheran West.
“It’s something I put a lot of effort and time into,” Michaelsen said, “and something I’m proud of and really enjoyed. But it is not as tough [to walk away] as it would be if I was leaving the school. I’ll still be here. Now I get the chance to get involved with the other fall sports. I’ll have the chance to go to their games, which is something I haven’t been able to do.”
During his time on the Indians’ sidelines, Lemont reached the postseason in nine straight seasons from 2004-12 and made two appearances in the state title game.
“The hard work and everything was geared toward winning,” Michaelsen said. “But looking back at it, the things I’ll remember most are the relationships I had with the coaches and the kids and the fact that we were able to have kids come back and help us [after high school].
“I had a chance to work with some excellent players and got to coach with some really great coaches. I also got to work with Lemont student-athletes, which is something I’ve always thought was pretty special.”
Lemont athletic director John Young said a full search for Michaelsen’s replacement would begin sometime next week, and whoever is selected, whether in-house or outside the school, will have some big shoes to fill.
“First of all, we are very excited for the opportunity he has to serve Lemont high school as the principal,” Young said. “He is the consummate professional and extremely well respected by the staff and his coaches, and they are all excited for his new role.
“And to his credit, he left a program that is in really good shape and a program that has a lot of committed coaches and teachers.”