Pewamo-Westphalia assistant coach takes over head coaching duties due to COVID-19 contact tracing

Nathan Thelen has been an assistant coach for P-W football’s varsity team for 14 seasons.
Published: Sep. 23, 2020 at 8:23 PM EDT
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LANSING, Mich. (WILX) - The COVID-19 crisis has taken away many opportunities for high school football teams, players and coaches across the country in 2020. However, for the defending division 7 state champion Pewamo-Westphalia Pirates, it did create a unique opportunity for long-time assistant coach Nathan Thelen.

The Pirates have had numerous players quarantined over previous weeks due to COVID-19 contact tracing and right as the team was able to practice in pads for the first time Head Coach Jeremy Miller was forced to quarantine as his daughter had been in contact with someone who ended up testing positive for COVID-19. Miller was forced to remain in quarantine until Wednesday and missed the Pirates first game of the 2020 season.

Miller tabbed Thelen as his temporary replacement and he says the decision was an easy one.

“He’s tremendous, if there is a better assistant coach, if there is a better football coach in the state of Michigan, I don’t know,” Miller said.

Thelen, who is typically the defensive coordinator for the Pirates, led P-W to a 56-0 win over Laingsburg Friday night in his head coaching debut.

“Overall, I was just really proud of the kids and how they came out. They played a really clean game overall for a week one game. I feel like it was one of our better week one games over the past couple of years and I’m just really proud of the kids for being resilient,” Thelen said.

Thelen says he has never wanted to be a head coach, but the experience was a positive one.

“Getting a chance to call plays is just something I’ve never done because I’ve always just done the defense for basically 10 years so it was really enjoyable,” Thelen explained.

Miller and the rest of the players who were quarantined for their game against Laingsburg are expected to return for the Pirates first home game of the season this Friday night against Potterville.

Highlights from P-W’s win over Laingsburg can be found here.

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