Earlier this year, Forest City cross county coach Kamille Goepel announced she was heading back to her hometown to teach and coach at West Hancock high school, leaving a void that’s now filled. Forest City has announced they have hired Waldorf’s cross county coach, DJ Wolfram, to lead the program.
“I’ve got tremendously large shoes to fill, coach Goepel has done a tremendous job with the programs in Forest City, and she should be applauded for that,” Wolfram said. “I’m fortunate to be taking over a program that has been so taken care of,” Wolfram told about this predecessor.
Wolfram has backing for his claim. The former West Hancock state champion and JUCO All-American has led the Indians to back-to-back boys conference championships, and in 2020, both the girls and boys won the conference in the same year for the first time since 2003.
Some might scratch their heads, wondering why Wolfram would leave a college job for a high school one, but for Wolfram, it’s simple – passion. “The middle school and high school age group are where my strengths lie. I want to be able to motivate and inspire.” So for Wolfram, coaching high school was his dream, but not enjoying teaching in a classroom, Wolfram ‘didn’t have a path’ until now.
In June, he started working at Forest City as a custodian, an opportunity that opened a couple of months ago, and Wolfram jumped at it right away – though he admitted he was a bit nervous. “I’ll throw my hat in the ring and see what happens. They got me in the door the next day, and I was incredibly excited”.
Wolfram is more than qualified. Other than serving as the head cross country and distance coach for track and field at Waldorf University. He coached distance runners at Judson University. Wolfram holds a masters in Coaching Education from Ohio University and a masters in Organizational Leadership from Judson University. His undergraduate degree from Aurora University is in Sports Management, with a minor in coaching and youth sports development. He holds USATF certifications in cross country and track and field. He also has ten years of experience coaching youth basketball teams. Wolfram had a successful high school and collegiate running career himself. At Aurora University, he helped the cross country team win three conference championships. Also, he competed in indoor and outdoor track and field and holds a school record in the 4×800-meter relay.
“Beyond his coaching qualifications, D.J. is passionate about working with youth,” said Chad Moore, activities director at Forest City Schools. “He is a successful student-athlete himself and has a strong desire to motivate others.”
Why does his passion for youth sports run so high? Wolfram was inspired by his high school and middle school cross county coaches, “They helped mold me into who I am. I want to follow in their footsteps and (pass that on to other students) – they positively impacted so many people”, D.J. said.
Wolfram and his wife were happy this high school opportunity came in Forest City. They’ve built strong relationships with community members and coworkers. Some of those relationships made the decision to leave Waldorf a hard one for D.J., but he says staying in the community close to the friends he’s made at Waldorf helped make the decision easier.
Wolfram says he won’t make a lot of changes to training this fall which an experienced team returning.
Wolfram will be busy at Forest City, and coaching the XC team won’t be his only duty. He will coach 8th-grade boys basketball and assist the Indian girls’ track program as their distance coach.