UW-La Crosse has named Joel Dettwiler as its 12th head football coach in school history. Dettwiler replaces Larry Terry who announced his retirement in November.
A native of Oregon, Wis., Dettwiler has been an assistant coach at Wartburg since 2004. He was the linebackers coach and head strength coach from 2004 to 2008 before being named the Knights’ defensive coordinator in 2008, a position he held the past three seasons. He was hired over three other finalists, including Mount Union assistant coach Vince Kehres and Macalester head coach Tony Jennison.
“I am honored and humbled to have the opportunity to lead the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse football program,” said Detttwiler. “The program is of national championship caliber at one of the most respected Division III institutions in the country. I look forward to working with our great group of coaches and players to return this football program to national prominence. We will work to give the UW-L football family a product that they can be proud of, and one that they deserve.”
A 1997 graduate of UW-Platteville, Dettwiler helped lead Wartburg to a 57-18 record in his seven years as an assistant. The Knights advanced to the NCAA playoffs in 2004, 2008 and 2010 after claiming the Iowa Intercollegiate Athletic Conference title each season.
Wartburg led the IIAC in scoring defense, turnover margin and quarterback sacks in 2008 and 2010 under Dettwiler’s tutelage. He recruited in Wisconsin, Iowa, Minnesota and Illinois while at Wartburg and was the team’s academic coordinator.
Dettwiler served as an assistant coach and director of football operations at UW-Platteville from 2000 to 2004, coaching the defensive backs and linemen. He played in the Pioneers’ defensive backfield for four years and was a team captain in 1995. Dettwiler earned his undergraduate degree in civil engineering from UW-Platteville.
“We are excited to welcome Joel Dettwiler to the UW-L family as our next head football coach,” said UW-L athletic director Josh Whitman. “Joel separated himself from more than 100 candidates as the right person to lead our football program back to national prominence. He will bring vision, intelligence, discipline, structure, and leadership. Perhaps most importantly, Joel is an excellent teacher, on and off the field. His background demonstrates his commitment to education and using football to enhance the educational experience of his student-athletes.”
Along with his coaching duties at Wartburg, Dettwiler served as a lecturer in the computer science and physical education departments. He was also a lecturer in UW-Platteville’s general engineering and physical education departments. Dettwiler earned master’s degrees from UW-Madison in 1999 (civil engineering) and from UW-Platteville (education) in 2002.
“Joel is committed to winning and comes to us from one of the country's most successful programs,” added Whitman. “He understands our rich tradition and is prepared to take the necessary steps to return our football program to the national spotlight. Joel is an expert strategist and a formidable recruiter, both key components of building a championship-caliber program.
“He will hold our student-athletes to the highest standard and will instill in them a culture of discipline, accountability, and self-confidence. We have found the person we need to ensure that our football student-athletes become champions in sport, in school, and in life.”
“I am so impressed with the commitment of Josh Whitman and his passion for all UW-L athletics,” added Dettwiler. “His attitude is contagious. My family and I are excited to become part of the UW-L community. You cannot find a better combination of community, university and athletics than at UW-L.”
Dettwiler and his wife, Kirsten, have two daughters, Ava (4) and Lillian (1).
A member of the American Football Coaches Association and Iowa and Wisconsin Football Coaches Associations, Dettwiler is also a USA Weightlifting Certified Club Coach. He is a member of the National Strength & Conditioning Association.