SULLIVAN — A familiar face has been hired by the Sullivan school board as the new Sullivan/Okaw Valley football coach. He is Nathan Becker, a 2004 Sullivan grad who replaces Jeff Myers.
Becker has been an assistant in the football program for the past seven seasons under four different coaches and is excited to be the head coach at his alma mater.
"It (being a head coach) is something I always saw in my future, but I wasn't sure when it was going to be," said Becker who went on to graduate from the University of Illinois. "The longer I was an assistant the more interested I actually became in being a head coach."
Myers resigned after an 0-9 season. The Redskins have lost 22 straight games with the last victory being Sept. 23, 2016, in a 21-12 win over Meridian.
Becker, who is the Sullivan baseball coach, was the freshman coach under Charlie Brown and a positions coach under Gerald Temples as well as one year as the defensive coach. He was the offensive coach under Andy Kerley and a defensive coach last year.
"I like the stability Nathan Becker brings to the Sullivan/Okaw Valley football program," said Sullivan athletics director Ryan Aikman. "An alumn of Sullivan High School, he has been an assistant coach on our staff going as far back as when Charlie Brown was the head coach. Coach Becker worked alongside many of the coaches that are still currently on our staff so he is very familiar with them. Coach Becker has worked on both sides of the ball as an offensive coordinator thus allowing for him to bring a unique skill set to the position of the head football coach."
Becker, who was also an assistant basketball coach under current Teutopolis coach and Sullivan grad Chet Reeder, was also an Illinois State Scholar in high school and played football, basketball, and baseball.
"I hate to see all of the coaching turnovers," said Becker. "I want to help bring stability mostly for the kids and the program itself. For the upcoming seniors, it will be there fourth head coach in four years. That is rough on anyone. I will see players I have known their entire high school career."
Becker did see a positive out of the many coaches saying he has learned a lot from each coach from how to run practices to work in the weight room and of course different plays or schemes.
Becker was a 5-11, 150-pound quarterback/defensive back under Illinois High School Football Coaches Association Hall of Famer Jerry Lane as well as one year under Matt Moore.
"I have met with the team and have got an idea of what we have coming and things are planned for the summer," said Becker. "I have been around the kids their entire high school career and they know how to get ahold of me and it should make the transition pretty seamless."
Becker hit a last-second shot his senior year as Sullivan won a Class A regional 55-53 over Central A&M. It was the last year the Redskins have won a regional title.
"I know what to expect out of this community and I know they support the schools and the teams," said Becker of Sullivan. "There is something special about trying to continue to build what we had before with people like Jerry Lane. It is special to be the head coach at my alma mater. It is a job that would be hard to turn down."
Becker, who said his coaching staff is not complete yet, is a high school science teacher teaching chemistry and physics.
"Nathan is a person that is very passionate about not just the football program, but anything that he coaches or teaches," said Aikman, who is also the dean of students. "He works very hard at building good relationships with kids while also teaching them responsibility and accountability."