Starting a program from scratch and looking for an associate head coach?
Why not find someone who has experience building a national contender?
That’s exactly what Mike Woodley has done at Mount Marty College.
He went out and hired John Michaletti, a 29-year-old Illinois native who has spent the past six seasons helping build Kansas Wesleyan University into an NAIA playoff program, as his associate head coach and defensive coordinator.
As he said during a lengthy interview Tuesday afternoon in the Mount Marty football office, Michaletti said he is excited for the challenge of building something from scratch in Yankton — Mount Marty’s debut will be in 2021.
“The opportunity to work with Coach Woodley was something I couldn’t pass up,” Michaletti said.
Much like Woodley did at Grand View University (Iowa), which he built from scratch in 2008 into an NAIA national champion (2013), Michaletti played a key role in Kansas Wesleyan’s turnaround.
Michaletti, who played for coach Matt Drinkall at Saint Ambrose (Iowa), followed Drinkall to Kansas Wesleyan in 2014. That began a six-season stint where the Coyotes improved from a 2-9 record in 2014 into a 10-win team the following season.
“We just found the right guys,” Michaletti said. “We found guys who really wanted to help turn things around; those guys really make your job easier.”
With Michaletti as the associate head coach and defensive coordinator, KWU posted back-to-back undefeated regular seasons each of the past two seasons. The Coyotes went 13-1 in 2018 and reached the NAIA semifinals, and were 12-1 this past season and reached the NAIA quarterfinals.
In total, Kansas Wesleyan was 54-18 — 44-12 in the Kansas Collegiate Athletic Conference — and reached the NAIA playoffs three times during Michaletti’s stint.
And now, he’s off to a new venture.
In preparation for his move to Yankton (along with his wife and young child), Michaletti said he spent time learning about his new location.
“I had researched Yankton online, but I had no idea how it really was until I saw it in person,” he said.
“I can already tell that everyone is so supportive here and it seems like they’re all excited about Mount Marty football.”
A self-described ‘players coach,’ Michaletti said he is excited to start learning more about the area — the high school coaches and the players, among other facets.
“I’m looking forward to building a team and building those relationships,” he said.
As far as what’s to come for the Lancers on the football field, Michaletti said he is optimistic that Mount Marty can become a winner.
“I think we can definitely compete in the GPAC,” he said. “It’s going to be tough, with the national champion (Morningside) the past two years.
“It’ll be a good parameter to see how good we need to be.”
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