Dan Wendel is in the right place.
The former Monmouth Regional High School athlete is in his first season as the Falcons’ head football coach.
“To have the opportunity to go back and be the head coach at Monmouth after playing there has been a dream of mine,” the 2002 graduate said. “I am grateful for the opportunity to do so.”
The Falcons were 4-5 overall, including 1-4 in the Shore Conference Liberty Division last season when they finished in a tie for sixth place with Colts Neck in divisional play. They qualified for the NJSIAA playoffs during the previous season when they were 8-3.
“It’s exciting,” Wendel said. “The opportunity to fulfill a dream of mine is special. I am looking forward to building a program.”
Wendel played four years of football, winning three varsity letters. He started 29 of 30 games, playing on the offensive and defensive lines and earning all-division honors. He played tight end for the Monmouth County All-Stars in the All-Shore Classic against the Ocean County All-Stars. He was a member of the first team to win a division title in school history. He played freshman and junior varsity baseball before becoming injured during his sophomore season.
Monmouth athletics director Tony De’Orio said Wendel was chosen for the position for the 2019 season by school officials over several candidates.
“We had 15-16 applicants,” the administrator said. “He was chosen for a few reasons–his plans for following and enforcing our academics first policy, his involvement in coaching here in previous years as he was an assistant for 10 years, his experience with fundraising, parents organizations, organizing assistant coaches, the off season program and his goals for the future.”
Wendel, a health and physical education teacher at Monmouth since 2007, is the school’s co-coordinator for the Heroes and Cool Kids Program. He has also served as its junior class moderator, hall of fame and historian coordinator, winter weight room supervisor and assistant girls lacrosse coach.
“Dan is an outstanding teacher not only in the classroom but also on the athletic fields,” De’Orio said. “He knows and understands how to communicate with students, fellow coaches and the administration.”
Wendel said he has more than one coaching personality.
“I would like to say I have a healthy balance of old school and player friendly,” he said. “I had had the opportunity over my coaching and playing careers to work and play for some really great coaches. Having those experiences has molded me into the coach I have become. I would like to thank the coaches I have coached under and learned from over the years–Sal Spamapanto, Jason Morrell, (former Monmouth mentor) Rich Mosca, Dan Curcione and (Neptune head coach) Tarig Holman.”
Wendel’s coaching staff consists of Jason McQuay (defensive coordinator) Billy D. Williams (running backs, defensive backs), Tom Darby (offensive and defensive lines), Tye Coleman (wide receivers, linebackers), Jeff Sfraga (offensive and defensive lines), Anthony Guarino (freshman team) and Rob Micheliche (freshman team).
“In the short period I have been the head coach, I would say the progress we have made in the academics program has been the most rewarding aspect of the job,” Wendel said. “The culture in our weight room continued to grow during the off season. That is another rewarding aspect of the job.”
Wendel has a Bachelors of Science Degree from William Paterson University andl earned a Masters Degree in coaching and athletic administration from Concordia University. He worked as an assistant coach under Curcione at Donovan Catholic in 2017, coordinating the special teams and nurturing the quarterbacks. He worked under Holman last season as the Scarlet Fliers’ offensive and special teams coordinators and quarterbacks coach.
Wendel said any pressure he feels is self-inflicted.
“The pressure that I put on myself is to give each person in this program the greatest opportunity to succeed personally, academically and athletically I feel is greater than any outside source,” he said. “That pressure drives me to continue to reach that goal at a high level daily.”
Wendel said he has received strong support.
“The support from the administration, parents and the Monmouth Regional Football Club Organization has been unbelievable,” he said. “It’s a community that has been very receptive and makes sure the kids have the best experience throughout their four years.
“I can’t thank everyone enough in my support system for their help and understanding as I have moved from being an assistant to becoming the head coach at Monmouth Regional. Their support, dedication and help have been great.”
Occupants of the Patriot Division, the Falcons will visit the Lacey Township Lions on Sept. 13 at 6:30 p.m. in the regular-season opener for both teams. It will be Lacey’s first home night regular-season football game under permanent lights in school history. Lacey opened in the early 1980s.