HHS assistant has helped 105 players sign with colleges in last 14 years

June 20, 2014 at 10:00 am  | Mobile Reader | Pring this storyPrint 

Hahnville High School defensive line coach Dan Erwin does all that he can to find small college programs or junior colleges for Hahnville’s many talented football players.
Hahnville High School defensive line coach Dan Erwin does all that he can to find small college programs or junior colleges for Hahnville’s many talented football players.
After more than 20 years as a coach, Dan Erwin has seen his fair share of players come and go.

The football defensive line coach and head wrestling coach at Hahnville High School said during that time he has made it his goal to try and do more for his graduating seniors. Part of that effort to do more is in providing assistance in finding schools where players can continue their playing careers.

“I am more of the guy who helps out with the kids going to smaller colleges and junior colleges, things like that,” he said.

During his time at Hahnville, 105 players have either gone on to college on scholarships or walked-on to play football at schools at the next level.

In the last three years, that included 20 players who mostly signed at lower-level schools through Erwin’s help.

Erwin’s effect on the team was pronounced on National Signing Day in February when the Tigers, after posting two mediocre seasons in a row, had seven players sign college scholarships.

For Erwin, helping players move on to the next level is more than a job.

“I believe if a kid gives us four years, I at least owe him a shot at trying to get him a scholarship or at least trying to get him somewhere to play football in college. Not all of them are scholarships, some of them are just walk-ons,” he said.

Erwin knows the allure of college sports well. He played for the McNeese State Cowboys before transferring to Culver-Stockton College in Canton, Mo. where he blew out his knee, but managed to finish his undergraduate degree. He said his experience as a collegiate athlete has helped form the path he now leads his players down.

“It is not about me, it is about the kids. My wife asks me all of the time, ‘Why do you do that? Why are so passionate?’ I say because I am helping kids. I can go be a pharmaceutical salesman. I can go do that and make $100-some-thousand, that’s not what I want to do,” Erwin said.  

However, Erwin said he does not encourage every kid who comes through his doors to move on to the next level.

“Every kid can’t play college football. Every kid might want to play college football, but every kid can’t just ability-wise. But if they do have the ability and we think they have the ability, I am going to try and help them,” he said.

Although, according to Erwin, a lot of the kids have an unrealistic idea that they will play in the NFL one day, getting them into college is at least the first step in the next chapter of their life and may lead them to a degree.

“What kids don’t understand is to make it in college is the top 1 percent and then to make in the NFL is the top .1 percent of the high school kids,” he said. “These kids all think they are going to be in the NFL, it is nuts.”

Erwin said for all of the unrealistic fantasies that many players have about making it to pros, he has actually coached five players who have made it.

“I’ve been here 15 years. That is how many big timers we’ve had, but I’ve had 105 kids that have gone onto college,” he said.

Though some players sign with small colleges with the hopes of making it to the NFL, they often come back and thank Erwin for helping them get into school and earn a degree.

Erwin said such an occurrence happened a few years ago when he ran into a player he coached during his time at L.W. Higgins in the early 90s. He said when the manager of a Winn-Dixie on the West Bank approached him, he at first did not realize it was one of his former players who he had helped place in a small school.  

“He went and played for two years, decided not to play anymore and got his business degree. I am in Winn-Dixie, he is the manager of Winn-Dixie. I wouldn’t have known this kid from Adam. He is a grown man,” he said. “He said, ‘That is the best thing that ever happened to me. I appreciate you all giving me a shot.’ He was a 5’11 wide receiver who really couldn’t run that fast, but we gave him a shot. That is what it makes it all worth it when a kid like that comes back 15 years later and says thank you.”  

Erwin said the St. Charles Parish community and networking with those who know college coaches has a lot to do with his success and has increased his ability to continue to help kids in the future.

“First and foremost, this community is just that–it is a community. They back you and they push you and they honestly believe in you,” Erwin said. “There is a reason I’ve been here for 14 years, it is a phenomenal school system. It takes care of kids, has high expectations for kids and that in turn makes me have high expectations for these kids. That is why I think I help so much. When we raise their level, they get a shot to go to the next level.”

View other articles written Kyle Barnett

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Honoring St. Charles veterans
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Before joining the military, Eddie Dewhirst hardly knew what Veterans Day was until he served in Desert Storm, Bosnia, Kosovo and the Global War on Terrorism.

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