NORMAL — Eleven years ago, Ed Hafermann interviewed with Normal West High School head basketball coach Brian Cupples. There was an opening for a freshman coach on Cupples’ staff.
“I said to Brian, ‘I want to be where you’re at someday. My goal is to be a varsity basketball coach,’” Hafermann said.
It became reality Thursday when Hafermann, a West assistant for those 11 years, was named head coach by the school. He replaces Cupples, who resigned in March after 17 seasons.
“This is a dream come true for me,” said Hafermann, a social studies and language arts teacher at Parkside Junior High. “Being around Brian and how he ran the program, that’s going to be valuable for me. It’s more than X’s and O’s. His working relationship with (athletic director) Stan Lewis and how he worked with the other coaches in the other sports … that was neat to see.”
Hafermann has been head coach of the Wildcats’ sophomore team as well as a varsity assistant in recent years. Prior to coaching at West, he was head coach of the Chiddix Junior High seventh-grade team for one year and the eighth-grade squad for two years. He has been a middle school teacher in Unit 5 for 16 years.
His appointment as head coach is pending approval by the Unit 5 Board of Education. West had three seniors on this year’s 11-20 team, including all-Big 12 Conference and All-Area guard Shea Cupples. The Wildcats will return a nucleus of juniors who saw extensive playing time.
“I’m really excited about the guys we have coming back,” Hafermann said. “And the group I had on the sophomore team, they are hard-working kids and very coachable kids.
“I’m going to look to make some changes defensively. You’ll see us play more man-to-man than in past years. Offensively, Brian gave me control of the offense for the program the last several years. We’ve run several different offenses to fit the talent we have.”
There is a bit of irony in Hafermann taking over at Normal Community’s biggest rival. When he coached at Chiddix, NCHS head coach Dave Witzig had him over to his house for a coaches’ meeting.
“He said, ‘Ed, we’ll eat bowls of ice cream and talk about our philosophy for the (NCHS) program,’” Hafermann said. “He gave me a three-ring binder that had drills in it and defensive and offensive philosophies.
“I was a younger guy at that point. It’s interesting that now, 16 years later, we’re going to be going head to head against each other. He was the first guy to text me today when the press release came out. That was neat to see.”
Lewis said Hafermann’s “knowledge of X’s and O’s is outstanding, and he will continue to set high expectations for our student-athletes on the court, off the court and in the classroom."
"Coach Hafermann is a detailed practice planner and will carry that ability into coordinating all aspects of our boys basketball program," Lewis said. "He will help our student-athletes develop lifelong skills for their future beyond high school and sports. We are confident that the program is in good hands under his direction.”
Hafermann graduated from Rockridge High School and played basketball for two years at Black Hawk College before earning his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in education from Illinois State. He was chosen after a committee of players, parents and other coaches assisted in the selection process.
Hafermann said he was "excited and blessed" to have the opportunity, thanking Lewis, West principal Dave Johnson and Cupples for their support.
He said his familiarity with the current players should aid in the transition. In addition to working with them in practices and games on the sophomore and varsity levels, he has conducted individual workouts with them in the summers.
Hafermann and his wife, Tera, a librarian at Normal West, have three children: a seventh-grade son, Taylor; a fourth-grade daughter, Eden; and a kindergarten son, Christian.