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Doerffler: It’s a name that has been synonymous with Northrop football since the school was founded nearly half a century ago. Buzz Doerffler got things started in 1971 and coached the Bruins through the 1983 season. His younger brother, Dean, took over from 1984-1993. Now, entering his fifth year as Northrop’s head coach, is Dean’s son, Jason Doerffler, at the helm.
“There’s a lot of people that you talk to that have a lot of pride in this place,” said Jason, taking a break at a recent practice. “It means a lot to a lot of different people, and with that comes lots of responsibility. It’s not something that we take lightly as coaches.”
Northrop head coach Jason Doerffler
Jason has accumulated a record of 8-32 in his four years as the Bruins’ leading man. He believes his team is close to putting all the pieces together, and this year he has two family members on his coaching staff: dad Dean and his older brother, Ryan. Dean is entering his second year under Jason; Ryan is a first-year coach.
All three Doerffler men on Northrop’s staff said coaching together has been an enjoyable experience so far and are excited to see where the 2018 season takes them.
“All of our coaches are great guys, great people,” said Jason. “They believe in the development of each kid. I think both my dad and my brother do a great job of that. It doesn’t matter if we’re related or anything like that. They have the best interest of the kid – of our student athletes – at heart, and it develops into a good working relationship between the coach and the player.”
Ryan and Jason both played quarterback for their father at Concordia High School and went on to play college sports as well. Dean said with the game constantly changing, his sons have been the ones giving words of wisdom to him.
“They’re young and eager, and they’ve got all kind of really neat ideas,” Dean said. “I learn a lot from them. It’s probably more that way than the other way – them learning from me.”
Coaching seems to be in the Doerffler bloodline. Jason and Ryan aren’t only taking after their father and uncle on the Doerffler coaching totem pole. Their other uncle, Dale Doerffler, coached at North Side from 1980-1996. Jason said Dale calls to check up on the team a few times a week, and even stops by at a practice now and then.
Jason has never had a job outside of Northrop. Growing up a three-sport athlete in high school and a college athlete as well, he said he never had time for work. After a semester of student teaching, he was hired full-time and the Doerffler-Northrop family tree added another branch.
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Northrop offensive coordinator Dean Doerffler
Jason said he couldn’t imagine doing something outside of sports, so coaching fit right in with his career choice of teaching.
“I’ve never really considered another career,” Jason said. “It was always appealing to me that that’s something I want to do, and here we are.”
Not only is coaching a staple in the Doerffler family, but football in general has always been a big part of their relationships.
“We’ve been talking about football for a long time, so it’s kind of just natural,” Ryan said. “From as young as I can remember we were hanging out in locker rooms and riding in team buses. It was all football, all the time. At family get-togethers, what do you talk about? You talk about football. It’s what we know; it’s what we’ve grown up doing and I love it.”
Northrop quarterback coach Ryan Doerffler
Growing up in a sports-oriented family, it was only natural for Ryan and Jason to develop a competitive nature. If you ask them, Jason has always had that extra competitive fire. Ryan said Jason would always play with the older kids and would even beat them, including himself, once in awhile.
That extreme competitiveness is one reason why Jason is in the position he is as head coach. Dean said it’s a trait Jason has had since he was a young fan rooting for the Cubs, while also pulling for his father’s teams on the gridiron.
“He puts his heart and soul into everything that he does, and he did that for me when he played for me at Concordia,” Dean said. “That carries over to the other staff members and to our players. That’s the kind of passion you have to have to be successful.”
Who knew that the first Doerffler football coach at Northrop would lead to not just a pair, but a trio of family members, on staff nearly 50 years later? For the Doerffler men, coaching Northrop football is certainly a family affair.