While preparing his team for the season that opens Saturday in Salzman Stadium against Ohio Wesleyan, new head football coach Denny Dorrel has also been getting acclimated to the Bluffton community.
Making the move from Hanover, Ind., to Bluffton was hard for the first few months, he admits, because he was separated from his family, including his wife, Sarah, and their three children, 3-year-old twins Dexter and Kate, and 1-year-old Dylan. Since they’ve been reunited, though, the transition has been much easier, due in part to having a “great wife” to help him, he says.
Denny is glad to have his family in Bluffton due to its small-town feel and sense of community, he adds, calling it a great place to raise children. His priorities are his family and the football team, and he believes Bluffton is a great place for both. “Anyone would bend over backward to help you,” he says.
Before coming to Bluffton, Denny was the defensive coordinator at his alma mater, Hanover College. He points out that the transition to head coach brought more phone calls with it, but he is managing well with the help of the rest of the coaching staff. “Being a defensive coordinator allowed me to focus on one thing,” says the new head coach, who has been getting accustomed to his many added responsibilities since accepting the position last spring.
Denny wants his team to be as passionate and enthusiastic about the game as he is. “There is lots of learning to do but, if we can do it, then success will be there,” he says about the coming season.
He will coach against his old team for the first time when Hanover comes to Bluffton on Homecoming Saturday, Oct. 4. He is usually “amped up” for games, he says, acknowledging that the excitement that week may cause him to “go up a few notches.” While it doesn’t seem strange to be at Bluffton, he adds, it will be odd looking across the field at the faces he helped recruit and coached alongside.
Success on the field aside, the new coach wants to bring back Bluffton traditions and for this team to make an impact in the community.
He has already brought back the “Beaver Pledge”—initiated by former head coach Carlin Carpenter—saying he wants his players to have a connection with football alumni. The pledge states: “I believe in God, myself, Bluffton, team, and program. I believe in setting attainable goals and working with the dedication needed to achieve these goals. I believe in the ability to adjust to and overcome adverse situations. I believe!"
Denny also feels his team has a responsibility to effect change both in the community
and on campus, where it is among the largest groups. This summer, team members did
landscaping at Mennonite Memorial Home and hosted a free football camp for youngsters
in kindergarten through eighth grade. And they will be involved in more service activities
after the season ends, according to their coach.
by Alex Parker '16