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Dan McCarty, 11th head football coach in St. Norbert history, begins his career with a perfect regular season.

Fast-Tracked Coach Takes Green Knight Football Unbeaten Into the Post-Season

Dan McCarty never would have guessed just two years ago that he would be leading the St. Norbert College football team into the NCAA Division III playoffs as its head coach.

This fall's perfect 10-0 regular season would lead to an NCAA Division III playoff game Nov. 21 where the Green Knights ultimately fell to perennial foe and two-time defending NCAA Division III national champion University of Wisconsin-Whitewater.

McCarty’s coaching path has been on the fast track the past three seasons, progressing from high school head coach in 2013 to assistant coach at St. Norbert in 2014 and head coach of the Green Knights this season.

“It’s crazy how this story has worked out,” says McCarty. “My last season (as defensive coordinator) at UW-Stout was 2010, and my wife and I decided it was time to move back home. I never thought I’d get back into the college arena.” 

Opportunity comes calling
It was 2013 when McCarty was in his home stomping grounds of Door County, Wis., serving as the head football coach at Southern Door High School. He and his wife, Katrina, were happy to be near family with their three young daughters, Sophie, Liv and Cecelia.

That’s when one of his hunting buddies, former Southern Door High School, University of Wisconsin and National Football League offensive lineman Al Johnson, contacted him about applying for the open defensive coordinator position at St. Norbert, where Johnson had just come on board as the offensive line coach.

McCarty threw his hat in the ring and landed the job, and was promoted to the head coaching position following the 2014 season. For McCarty, St. Norbert offers an ideal situation from a professional and recruiting perspective.

“There are other places where you can get a great education and have football success and beautiful facilities,” he says. “But for me, the key to St. Norbert College is the people. I truly believe we have amazing people here, and that’s the most important thing. Once we get a recruit here, this place sells itself.”

An all-star staff
McCarty put together an eclectic coaching staff of veteran mentors who have had success at multiple levels of the sport and young talent to mold the Green Knights into Midwest Conference champions.

The Green Knights defeated Monmouth College in the conference championship game Nov. 14 at Schneider Stadium, 16-7. The conference crown was St. Norbert’s 12th since 1999 and 16th since joining the league in 1984. 

“I believe in giving ownership to our coaches and taking pride in what they’re doing,” says McCarty, who coaches the quarterbacks. “I’m very grateful and appreciate of what we have, and I’m excited at how things have come together. I’m happy for our kids and proud of how tight of a team this is. We’re playing true team football in all aspects of the game.”

Dec. 1, 2015