MARION — He had to run it by his family. Especially his son.
When Tim Lovell became interested in Linn-Mar’s head varsity football coaching job, Max Lovell was the first person he talked to.
Father got to coach son this past season at Marion, which was special.
Son was very much looking forward to playing for father his senior year. But Max Lovell obviously is a young man mature and selfless beyond his teenage years.
“He just said ‘Dad, one year for me as a senior shouldn’t be what decides your career,’” Tim Lovell said Wednesday night, after his hiring at Linn-Mar was officially announced. “That was just incredibly profound.”
Lovell was Marion’s head coach for five years, including a 2020 season in which the Indians went 3-5, ending a long losing streak and winning a postseason game, despite having their home field at Thomas Park unavailable because of damage from August’s derecho. He returns to a football program where he was an assistant coach from 2009 to 2015.
Lovell is a middle-school teacher in the Linn-Mar district.
“Coach Lovell’s passion and philosophy as a coach work hand in hand with the values we have identified for the future of the Linn-Mar football program,” Linn-Mar Activities Director Dave Brown said. “He will be a great leader in our efforts to create a streamlined program for our kids from youth football leagues, through our middle schools and into the high school program.”
“It was an opportunity that I wasn’t looking for,” Lovell said. “It was presented to me. You know how that goes? Something that you’re not ready for emotionally and mentally and all those things that go into it. Then, all of a sudden, you start processing it, and it’s like, holy cow, this is a phenomenal opportunity. You start investigating it, start meeting with the right people and get your family onboard.”
Lovell replaces Paul James as head coach. James, who came to Linn-Mar after a very long stint as head and assistant coach and activities director at Cedar Rapids Washington, stepped down last month.
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Linn-Mar went 1-5 this past season, but has a lot of returning talent, including all-state safety Clayton Muszynski and starting quarterback McKade Jelinek. The program has a storied history (three state championships) and is considered a sleeping giant in the Class 4A ranks because of its enrollment (fifth in the state) and general affluence.
“I said when I got the Marion job that it was an opportunity of a lifetime,” said Lovell, a Cornell College grad who had assistant college coaching stints at his alma mater and Lake Forest College. “This is no different because, quite honestly, it’s where I got back into teaching and coaching. For them to think highly enough to give me an opportunity to fight for this job was very humbling and very overwhelming. Just to have them think of me that way.”
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