Dan Hartman is sticking in the silver.
But he’s changing colors.
After leading Hinsdale Central to five consecutive trips to the Class 8A state football playoffs, Hartman was approved as the new football coach at Lyons Township this past week.
Hartman led the Red Devils to an 8-3 record and 5-1 mark in the West Suburban Silver last year, while the Lions finished 1-8 and 1-5.
Hartman compiled a 40-13 record in five seasons at Hinsdale Central. Kurt Weinberg resigned after leading the Lions to nine straight playoff trips before missing the playoffs this season.
Hartman said one of the factors for leaving Hinsdale Central stemmed from the uncertainty about the future of the program. Hartman, who will teach social studies at Lyons, was worried about his football and teaching positions.
In mid-December, the Hinsdale High School District 86 Board voted to eliminate several sports, clubs and activities, most notably football.
“When the job was posted near the new year, I saw it and took a long look at it,” Hartman said. “It’s definitely very difficult to leave [Hinsdale Central], but Lyons is a school that I looked at as one of the best jobs in the state. With everything going on with me, not certain on having a teaching position, it made it even more appealing.
“The numbers at LT were a big factor, too. They have a lot of kids in the building and the youth program is very strong. The facilities are amazing. They have all those things going, plus room to build.”
Hartman called beating Glenbard West — ending a series losing streak dating to 2006 — and finishing with an undefeated conference record in 2016 as two of his biggest highlights at Hinsdale Central.
Hartman admitted it’s tough leaving the Red Devils’ incoming seniors, but he’s excited for a new start.
“The toughest thing is leaving those kids,” he said. “They invested three years in the program, were a great group of kids and I wish all the best for them. I’m thankful for all the support I got from Hinsdale.
“But anytime you start something new, there’s that initial rush of energy on building something from the ground up, taking what you learned from the previous stop and applying it to your new situation. You learn to grow as a coach and create something special.”
Lyons athletic director John Grundke said Hartman’s experience in football and familiarity in the conference made him the ideal candidate to lead the program.
“I’m confident Coach Hartman is a great fit for our Lions football program,” Grundke said in a school release. “He brings a wealth of experience and leadership. His dedication to the players on and off the field will only add to the LT program.”
Hinsdale Central athletic director Dan Jones admitted the football program is in a holding pattern until a $139.8 million referendum is voted on the April 2 ballot that would stop the cuts to the football program and many other sports, clubs and activities.
“If football is reinstated, we will fill the head coaching position and any assistant positions that might be open as soon as we can,” Jones said. “We will be looking to fill that position, so that we continue the work that our athletes are doing. If given the opportunity, our staff will work hard to be ready for next season.”
Jones praised Hartman for building a winning culture in the football program.
“Coach Hartman worked hard to move this program forward and we were rolling and working hard to prepare for every season,” Jones said. “Under his leadership, we were ready for every game and came to compete and succeed. Our football players were prepared for games and were learning important life lessons through hard work, success and, more importantly, through their disappointments.”