Wolke back as coach at Chalker
SOUTHINGTON — The Chalker High School football program was rudderless with no coach heading into July to replace former coach Tom Conrad.
Athletic Director Craig Lefkowitz and his assistant, Jim Wolke, didn’t know what to do. A couple of prospective coaches were offered the job, but no one wanted to coach the Wildcats in 2020.
Wolke, who has coached Chalker’s football team three times before, said he would take the job for a one-year deal.
“Everything happened and we were kind of in a hold with having somebody. He said he’d be willing to do it for this year, to help us out,” Lefkowitz said about Wolke’s decision.
Wolke, 57, is Southington Local Schools’ physical education teacher for kindergarten through 12th grade, as well as the assistant athletic director in charge of junior high athletics.
“I said if they couldn’t find somebody by a certain date I would interim for one year and here we are,” Wolke said.
He had open-heart surgery in November. Wolke said he had a birth defect and didn’t know about it. He needed a tricuspid valve in his aorta replaced.
“I’m still recovering. Quite an ordeal for me,” he said.
He has 16 players signed up for football this fall, a usual scenario for schools in Division VII. He said other schools in the Northeastern Athletic Conference have faced the stark reality of possibly playing eight-man football.
Mathews played a couple of those games last season. Eight-man games do not count toward the playoffs and are not sanctioned by the Ohio High School Athletic Association.
Taking over in July isn’t ideal for any football coach.
“I’m way behind the 8-ball, as you know a coach would be,” Wolke said. “You accept the challenge, move on and try to get as many kids as you can and deal with the circumstances we’re living with.”
This is his fourth coaching stint with Chalker. He had records of 7-2 in 1994 and 4-6 in 1995.
Wolke came back from 2001-03, taking the Wildcats to the playoffs in 2001 with a 6-4 record. Chalker went 4-5 in 2002 and 8-2 in 2003, missing the playoffs by two spots.
From 2007-09, Wolke’s teams went 12-17, missing the playoffs in 2009 by three spots.
“Fourth time is a charm,” he said.