By: Lucas Wickiser
The Oaklanders football team is gaining a keen offensive mind, and an aggressive coach who pursues excellence in everything he does. Their new Offensive Coordinator and Quarterbacks Coach, Dan Chipka, comes to Lincoln University with a wealth of coaching experience, even though he is young at only 33 years old. The Toledo, Ohio native finds his way to the Bay Area after several successful coaching stops. Let’s get to know Coach Dan Chipka up close and in his own words.
Q: Tell us a little bit about your background
A: I played my football at a Division III school in Ohio called Bluffton. I was a two-year starter and my Senior year I was a team captain. I played for a coach by the name of Tyson Veidt. That might be a familiar name, because he is now at Iowa State as Matt Campbell’s right-hand man with the Iowa State Cyclones. He was a big influence in my life. When he took the Bluffton job my Junior year, it connected the pieces for me in terms of what I wanted to do with my career path. I knew that getting into coaching and impacting young men’s lives through the sport of football is what I wanted to do.
But I also wanted to play football for as long as possible. I was signed to the 25-man roster for the arena team known as the Fort Wayne FireHawks. We were third in the league, but we lost in the playoffs and later found out that the owner had sold the team. So that was it. Our season came to a screeching halt, and my career came to a screeching halt. I decided to make a career change. I had to earn some money, so I moved back to Toledo, Ohio where my family is from. I got into education as a substitute teacher. I had the opportunity to coach football. I coached quarterbacks and offensive skill players at Bowsher High School on the south end of Toledo.
At the age of 24 years old, I was hired to be the head coach of the Toledo Waite Indians, and in my first year we were fortunate enough to win the first City Championship in 62 years. After three years there, Saint Francis de Sales hired me to be their head coach for four more successful seasons. I think I actually broke the record for being the youngest head coach in two different conferences (the Toledo City League, and Three Rivers Athletic Conference). But we had great players and a great coaching staff. It was special. We were able to win and turn things around very quickly.
Q: How did you get to Lincoln?
A: If it wasn’t for my wife’s ability to work remotely, I’d still be coaching high school football in Toledo, Ohio. But moving all over the country was something that we were able to do, because she can work remotely. She’s remarkable. She’s very successful at what she does, and that’s the reason we were able to move down to Charlotte, where I was the Special Teams Coordinator at Wingate University.
From there I got in contact with Coach Gumbs. I was actually a finalist for two head coaching jobs, but I was also in communication with Coach Gumbs for the Offensive Coordinator position. As luck or fate would have it, I interviewed at both head coaching positions and did not get them. A short while later, Coach Gumbs called me and the interview with him went really well. After a week of intensive interviews, he offered me the position. It moved pretty quickly.
Q: How did Coach Gumbs pitch the Lincoln football program to you?
A: Coach Gumbs’ vision and the vision of where they want to take the football program is appealing to me. It’s ambitious, but I’m an ambitious man myself, so this was right in my wheelhouse. I think the vision extends further beyond the Oakland area. It’s the entire Bay. My wife and I are super excited to get out there. I never had a full understanding of just how awesome the Bay Area is. I didn’t realize that San Jose was just south of Oakland. I didn’t realize the Bay is just a huge metropolitan area.
Q: What are you most excited about this season?
A: I think what’s been most exciting to me so far is just taking a deep dive into the playbook and refining everything. Just tightening up on the details. It’s one thing to coach offense. It’s another thing to coordinate it. It’s challenging. It’s like a big puzzle in my head. It’s fun. I enjoy it. I enjoy the conversation with my peers, and then I enjoy the implementation of everything. Right now, we’re in the phase of collaborating as an offensive staff. Then we have another three weeks until we present it in front of the players.
Q: How much do you enjoy mental chess matches with the opposing defensive coordinator and outsmarting them?
A: I think that’s fun, but what I find fascinating is trying to forecast what those counter moves are going to be. Studying your opponents in the offseason and the answers you can counter them with in live time, that’s what makes highly effective offenses really go. In other words, you can’t have a fragmentation in your scheme.
Q: Are you excited about a particular game on the schedule, or are you just excited to get to work in general?
A: I’m just excited to get to work in general. I’m excited for the process and the grind. It’s an opportunity for me to implement the offense and take control of one side of the team. I’m super fired up for that and the caliber of the schedule. We certainly have our work cut out for us. But this is what I got into college football to do. To run with the lion. To compete with the very best. Ultimately that’s what I’m most excited for. I have a deep, burning desire to be the very best. Not backing down from a challenge, but running after it. That’s what I’m looking forward to doing.