Gold Medal Coach Dan Hawkins Already In Sweden Coaching with the Carlstad Crusaders

On Saturday night, Team USA’s head coach Dan Hawkins was celebrating winning the IFAF World Championship gold medal with his powerhouse of a team in Canton, Ohio. Monday afternoon he was on a train from the airport in Stockholm, Sweden to his new home for the next two months in the small town of Carlstad, home of the Crusaders, defending Swedish champions. Before that, he had hopped in a car at 4:30 AM Sunday morning, driven six hours to Chicago, flown to Frankfurt and then up to Sweden.

Two hours after arriving in Carlstad he found himself on the practice field coaching his new team filled with seemingly boundless energy.

“I love the adventure and the travel. With Team USA I learned to adapt quickly so there was no problems in getting right into things again here. This is a great organization and a great group of people. I am having a blast.”

He has signed on as the offensive coordinator of the Crusaders for the remainder of the Swedish season, but his traveling doesn’t stop there. The Crusaders, with Hawkins and head coach Malik Jackson, will be on a plane for Serbia to play in the IFAF Europe Champions League Final Four starting Friday night. The team they will face in the semifinal round is France’s Thonon Black Panthers, semifinalists last year in the same tournament.

Sweden - Carlstad - Hawkins5

He was still excited about Team USA’s triumph in the World Championships:

“It was really amazing. To manage to get as many guys in such a short time is truly special. We grew during the tournament, the guys on the team were really awesome.

Coach Hawkins is no stranger to short preparation time (witness Team USA) and travel. He has been the head coach of three major college programs – Wilmaette University, Boise State and Colorado as well as the CFL’s Montreal Alouettes and he has organized clinics and camps all  over North America. But this is a different kind of challenge. He has never coached in Europe before and never coached with such a short turnaround time after the intensity of four games in 11 days.

Hawkins is the fifth, and hopefully last, offensive coordinator for the Crusaders this year. He is well aware of the pitfalls in joining a team that is already set and running someone else’s offense.

“This is a successful team and (sic. quarterback) Anders Hermodsson knows what he’s doing. You can not just come in and start running a bunch of complex plays. Right now we need to find out what everyone wants and what they need. So we will work on it together, and hopefully I can contribute my knowledge where it will help the most.

Football is an interesting sport with a culture like no other – not even in sports. There is such a pack mentality in football and you have to work your way into the pack to earn your place.”

He does admit that this is a different kind of a challenge for him and he seems to relish the opportunity to take it on:

“I like to think outside the box and I do not need to have 100,000 spectators in the stands to have fun coaching. This feels like a fun challenge, especially given that we are going to Serbia this week.”

Article credit: Jacob Järpegård – Värmlands Folkblad.

Photos: Håkan Strandman

 Link to original article in Swedish.



Roger Kelly is an editor and a writer for AFI. A former PR Director the B.C. Lions of the Canadian Football League for 7 years, he now lives in Sweden writing about and scouting American Football throughout the world.