At its February 10 meeting, the Lemont High School District 210 Board of Education approved the recommendation to hire Bret Kooi to serve as the school’s head football coach. Kooi has nearly 30 years of experience as an educator and his teams have achieved a great deal of success in his two decades as a head coach. Kooi will take over the program from longtime coach Eric Michaelsen, who will assume the role of the school’s principal on July 1, 2014.
“Bret Kooi is a first class person with a tremendous amount of integrity and professionalism,” Lemont High School Athletic Director John Young said. “Everyone who knows Bret has commented about his strong character and his ability to lead kids and adults. He has been a very successful head coach and knows what it takes for a program to contend for a state championship.”
In a combined 20 seasons as head coach at Joliet West High School and Lockport High School, Kooi has amassed a 116- 85 (.577) record and led his squads to 10 IHSA Playoff appearances, including a pair of state titles.
Kooi headed up the Lockport program for 17 years (1994-2011), and finished his tenure with a 105-69 (.603) record. Lockport reached the IHSA Playoffs seven times in eight seasons from 1997-2004 and made 10 playoff appearances in all under Kooi’s direction, posting a 13-8 record in the postseason. Over his 17 years, the Porters won four South Inter- Conference Association (SICA) Blue titles - 1998, 2002, 2003 and 2004 - and captured consecutive IHSA Class 8A State Championships in 2002 and 2003. The 2002 squad set a school record with 13 victories.
After serving as an assistant coach at Providence Catholic High School, Kooi got his start as a head coach at Joliet West in 1989. In three seasons, the Tigers posted a combined 11-16 record and improved their win total each season. His final team finished 5-4 in 1991.
Kooi comes to Lemont after serving as an offensive assistant coach at Lincoln-Way North High School for the past two seasons. The Phoenix advanced to the IHSA Class 6A Playoffs both years, reaching the IHSA Quarterfinals in 2013 when he filled the role of offensive coordinator. Lincoln-Way North was second in the Southwest Suburban Red each season, and averaged 35.8 points per game over two campaigns while posting a combined 16-6 record.
In 2011, Kooi served as an assistant coach at Minooka High School under his brother, Bert. That season, Minooka went 6-4, finished second in the Southwest Prairie Conference standings, and advanced to the IHSA Class 7A Playoffs.
Kooi has served as a teacher at Lockport since 1992, having taught both mathematics and physical education over his 22-year tenure at the school. Prior to arriving at Lockport, Kooi taught math for four years at Joliet West, and began his career with a three-year stint teaching math at Providence Catholic. Though he is taking over the reins as Lemont’s football coach, he will continue to teach at Lockport.
Kooi earned a bachelor’s degree in Physical Education from Millikin University in 1985, and was awarded a masters degree and Type 75 certificate in Administrative Education from Governors State University in 1999. He was inducted into Millikin’s Athletic Hall of Fame in 2006.
Over 12 seasons (2002-13), Michaelsen’s Lemont teams compiled a 106-33 record, made nine straight playoff appearances from 2004-12, and won seven conference championships. The Indians twice finished as the IHSA Class 6A State Runner-Up (2007, 2008), and dozens of his players have moved on to play collegiately.
—Story, photo submitted by Lemont High School District 210