For Princeton’s Foes, it’s all about the program

Dan Foes has been a man of many hats, not to mention his trademark practice fedora, for the Princeton Tigers football program the past 21 years.

He’s filled many roles, most of all supporting the program and the head coaches he’s worked under in any way possible.

Every successful football program needs a coach Foes.

Two weeks ago, Foes worked the Tigers’ sideline and served as the press box eyes for the final time. Although he’s taken part of his son Grant’s football adventures over the years, he’s missed many of his daughter Morgan’s fall activities, and he didn’t want to miss out on her remaining volleyball career. He also will free up time for Grant’s future football exploits at Indiana Wesleyan.

“I definitely want to see all her activities. With Grant going to Indiana Wesleyan, I want to be available and not tied to anything and be able to go see him, too,” he said. “It’s a good time to give it up. All coaches know the amount of stress put on your family members because of things you’re giving up while you’re doing.”

Foes, who is stepping away from the football program, said it’s been a good run.

“It’s been great,” he said. “It’s certainly had a lot of ups and downs, despite wins and losses and anything else, it’s just been a fun go of it.”

There have been some disappointments along the way as Foes put in for the head coaching position more than once along the way and did not get the job. He’s worked for five head coaches along the way, from Joe Ryan (1995 to 2003) to Dave Smith (2004 to 2007) to Dave Moore (2008 to 2011) to Jesse Snyder (2012 to 2016) to Ryan Pearson (2017 to present).

He’s remained loyal to each and every one of them and the program.

“It’s always been about the kids and program. To this day, even going into the last practice, I want the kids to dedicate themselves and be about the program,” he said. “That’s what I’ve always tried to sell. That’s what I’ll continue to sell even as an ambassador and not an actual coaching.

“I’ve been able to be a part of lot of great coaches, both head coaches and assistant coaches. It’s truly been an education for myself, too. Always learning, always adapting. I’ve really enjoyed it.”

Foes said he’s learned from every coach he’s worked with, but would be remiss to not make special mention of former assistant Charlie Waca.

“For the first several years, he and I worked closely together. We had a lot of fun. Some of the most fun I’ve ever had coaching football,” Foes said, adding former assistant Rob Jensen as part of that fun.

Foes has coached every position along the way, except for quarterback. He’s been defensive coordinator, spending more years as head sophomore coach than anything else, which was his most recent position, along with the defensive line.

Pearson said he’s losing a good one.

“Coach Foes has meant so much to this program and coaching staff in my four years here. We’re certainly going to miss him,” Pearson said. “He’s been head sophomore coach and defensive line coach for the program. And he does all the little things I’m extremely grateful for.

“He loads up the Suburban for us, and all the equipment we keep in his shop. We use his ag shop for our halftimes and setting up the chairs and whiteboard. He just does so many things for our program.”

Tigers star Ronde Worrels said he will take a part of Foes’ influence and trademark catch phrases with him as he embarks on his next step of his football career at Northern Illinois.

“Oh man, coach Foes has been an awesome coach and has had a huge influence on all of us,” he said. “He’s one of those coaches who’s going to joke around with you, but when it’s time to work, he’s all about business. He’s taught me how important it is to be a player who does everything you’re told, and if you do that, you will be very successful.

“There’s nothing like having a tough practice and then hearing coach Foes say one of his famous funny lines to one of the underclassmen like, ‘Don’t think you’re not good at it.’ Coach Foes has had a huge impact on all of us young men coming through Princeton that will stay with us forever.”

Foes’ last game was a memorable one, manning the headset from his seat above the press box and messaging words to the staff below for the Tigers’ come-from-behind, 49-38 win over Fulton at Bryant Field.

He shared an emotional embrace with his son Grant, a PHS senior lineman, on the field after the game, and posed for family pictures to capture the moment.

Grant Foes said he wouldn’t trade the moment for anything, adding with a smile, some days he wished he didn’t have his dad as a coach, “but at the end, I love it.”

“I’m glad he got to be on the sidelines with his son’s last game and last big win,” Pearson said.

Dan Foes said he will miss football, especially when the Friday night lights turn on and he’s not climbing up to his perch atop the press box.

“I know this will always be sort of a bittersweet thing. I think COVID taught me I could live without it. It was, ‘Hey, I could be doing this.’ There’s certainly things to do,” he said.

“But I will miss it. I will always miss it. There are some things I won’t miss. I’ll certainly miss those Friday nights and the games themselves and planning.”

Foes won’t go far, as he will remain as head boys track and field coach and teach shop class and ag.

“I’ll be coaching track and get to interact with the kids in that way. Obviously, still be teaching here and see those guys. It will be fun to see ‘em as a fan and not as their coach,” he said.

He especially enjoys coaching track, now in his 16th year as head coach after serving five years as assistant under Don Carlson.

“Each year you come in and have different strengths. One year you may have a great high jumper and putting a little onus on that, and the next year, you’ve got a vaulter or a thrower, sprinter, or whatever it is. That’s the fun of that. It’s very diverse,” he said.

Kevin Hieronymus

Kevin has been sports editor of the BCR for more than 34 years and previously was sports editor of the St. Louis Daily News, Morton Tazewell News and ISU Daily Vidette. He is a 2021 inductee into the IBCA Hall of Fame as a media member and has won numerous IPA press awards.