Kangas bringing football coaching talents to WDC
The Wadena-Deer Creek Wolverines have landed one of the area's best-known and most successful football coaches for their 2012 season.
Howie Kangas was hired as the head coach of the Wolverines at the June meeting of the District 2155 school board.
"It's a community that I think I can make a contribution in because I'm not just all about football," Kangas said. "I want to see the same kids that are playing quarterback playing point guard, playing shortstop and running the 100. That's my whole idea. My intention in Wadena is not to build a dominant football program; it's to be a football coach and see how well I can serve the kids in the community."
Kangas coached football at Perham for 18 years. He took the Yellowjackets to the state playoffs three times. His 1997 and 2007 teams fought their way to the Prep Bowl semifinals. He resigned in 2009 after his Perham clubs won 119 of 184 games for a .647 winning percentage.
WDC Activities Director Norm Gallant remembers facing Perham in 1998 when Kangas was coaching. The Wolverines were undefeated and the Yellowjackets were a No. 5 seed when they met in the second round of the section playoffs. Perham won the game 24-13 after losing to WDC during the regular season.
"They were very well prepared," Gallant recalled. "They just did things right. They played hard and they played right."
Gallant considers the hiring of Kangas to be a terrific piece of good fortune for WDC.
"It was kind of a home run," Gallant said. "When you look at what he's done, it's a tremendous chance for us."
WDC's football teams have only won 11 games since the 2003 season.
"He's a man of character," Gallant said. "He coaches kids to get better and be successful."
Tom VanErp, who ran the WDC football program for four years before stepping down, also rates Kangas very highly.
"He's been around a long time. He did a super job at Perham and I think it was a good hire. When you have a chance to bring in a guy who has been to the Metrodome a couple times, it's a good thing."
Kangas plans to run a football camp in Wadena in July.
"I've got a vision of where we're going, but it doesn't have a timetable," Kangas said.
Kangas will say that coaching the game of football has changed, but it's still about scoring at least one more point than the competition.
"Football is a game where we try to put them in a position where they can score, so first we're going to find some points. The second thing we're going to try and do is go three and out."
Kangas is a retired teacher. In addition to coaching, he has been a basketball official for 24 years.