By Brad Spencer
Oak Park and River Forest High School announced last week that John R. Hoerster has been hired as the new head football coach.
Hoerster, an assistant coach for the last eight seasons at powerhouse Mount Carmel under Frank Lenti and the son of legendary Loyola Academy football coach John Hoerster, replaces Jim Nudera, who resigned in the fall after 12 seasons.
Hoerster, who as a youth played football at York, a school in the same conference as OPRF, takes over a program that finished 2-7 overall and 0-6 in the West Suburban (Silver) Conference this season.
With Hoerster as an assistant coach, Mount Carmel went 11-3 this season and lost to Maine South 28-7 in the Class 8A State Championship. Hoerster was with the team in 2006 when the Caravan also finished second in the state. He helped coach Mount Carmel to a total of four state championship appearances.
"We are thrilled to have John Hoerster leading the Huskie Football Program," OPRF Athletic Director John Stelzer said. "When we started this search, we wanted to find a coach who was familiar with our communities and our school. We wanted a candidate who was high energy and had experience with a successful football program. And we also wanted a coach who was respected by his student-athletes and colleagues and had a passion for coaching at OPRF."
Hoerster, an Oak Park resident, will continue to teach at Mount Carmel. He is currently completing work toward a Masters in teacher education at Dominican University and the state certification required to teach in Illinois public schools. Hoerster began his coaching career in 1997 as an assistant sophomore football coach and assistant varsity girls and boys track and field coach at Loyola Academy, while working as a Chicago firefighter.
"I am truly excited and humbled to be a part of such a great school and community," he said of OPRF. "I literally can't wait to get started."
Stelzer said Hoerster will begin the transition process immediately, holding a team meeting this week, attending some weight training and workout sessions, and scheduling meetings with the current coaching staff and parents later this spring.
"I became a teacher and coach because I was inspired by those who I grew up admiring, the men and women of the coaching and teaching profession who pushed me to realize my own potential," Hoerster said. "[OPRF's] tradition of academic and athletic excellence, its diverse student body, the strength of its enrollment and the already established ties to the community make it an ideal setting for both student and faculty alike."