NAPPANEE — It didn’t take Nate Andrews very long to make one point clear — that coming to coach football at NorthWood High School was not about him, his family’s legacy or a stadium named after his hall-of-fame father.
It was all about community.
“This is way too big of a deal for me because it’s not about me first and foremost,” Andrews said Monday, Nov. 11. “This is the Nappanee and Wakarusa community. This is NorthWood High School. This is NorthWood football. It’s not Nate Andrews in any way, shape or form. This is everybody.”
And with that, the prosperous Panther program took the first step forward into another era of football with an Andrews leading the way.
Surrounded by family, friends, NorthWood players and community members, Andrews, 36, was introduced as the school’s fifth head football coach. The school named its football stadium Andrews Field for Jim Andrews, who coached from 1972-1991 before his tragic death in 1992.
As Andrews looked around the crowd gathered on Monday night, he spoke of the vast influences — those in the room and in this life — who helped mold him and prepare him for a job he’s always coveted.
“It’s definitely the top ... this is what I wanted to do. This is the dream job,” Andrews said. “I’m fortunate enough to have a supporting famly that we can come and be a part of it. There’s not another place out there I rather be.”
Then a usually stoic and proud young man did something he said he doesn’t do much. He got emotional talking about his dad.
“The support we’ve received is unbelievable. My dad is my role model, my idol ... always will be,” Andrews said. “And I will continue to strive to do the things he taught me.”
Andrews, a 1996 NorthWood graduate and 2000 graduate of Ball State University, coached the last two seasons at Western High School near Kokomo. He was 15-8 at Western, including a 9-2 season that ended last Friday night at West Lafayette. The Panthers shared the Mid-Indiana Conference title with Hamilton Heights, which a year ago was the Class 3A state runner-up.
Heading into the IHSAA tournament, Western was ranked among the top 10 teams in both the Associated Press and Indiana Football Coaches Association polls.
Before Western, Andrews coached five seasons at Lapel with a 25-31 record. In his second season at Lapel, Andrew coached the team to a 10-3 record and a sectional title, the first for the school since 1995.
Andrews replaces Scott Hoover, who resigned Nov. 2 with a 30-27 record in five seasons with NorthWood. “To me, it just feels right. I don’t know if a year or two ago it would have felt as right or a year or two down the road, but right now, it just feels like the right time,” Andrews said. “Always in the back of mind, and definitely in my heart, this is what I wanted to do and this is where I wanted to be.
“And no matter where we went or what steps along the way we took, somehow, some way I feel like they were preparing us for a time like this.”