Herrmann retires after leading Wildcats for two decades

By John Rohlf

The Message Assistant Editor

  Joe Herrmann

After 21 years as the head of the athletics program at Mater Dei High School, Joe Herrmann is stepping down from the post.

A 1991 graduate of Mater Dei, Herrmann recently announced he is retiring as Athletic Director at Mater Dei. Herrmann returned to Mater Dei in 1998 to coach football and started teaching at the school in 1999. He became the Athletic Director in 2003. 

“I did not know I wanted to do that,” Herrmann said. “I did love sports. Loved athletics. Especially here. So I helped Joe Dippel out when he was the Athletic Director. And I did enjoy it. Nothing like I thought it was going to be. He decided to retire and go into the classroom at the end of 2003. And that’s when I thought, I’m interested in this. Went ahead and put my name in it. Interviewed and got the position.”

Herrmann said the decision to retire was not a sudden one. He had entertained retiring at the end of last school year. He said the opportunity to stay at Mater Dei to watch his youngest son finish his education at the school was a key factor in deciding to stay for another year. 

“It was something that I had looked at the year before, looked at all summer,” Herrmann said. “Was really close and then thought well, I can come back for one more year. I think it’s good for me and kind of neat that I get to be with my youngest son his last year too.”

The opportunity to serve as an Athletic Director is not a position Herrmann previously knew he wanted in his career.

While he still enjoys the job, Herrmann cited his lower energy levels over the years. He confirmed the job was “a lot more time consuming than I realized but it was enjoyable.” He stressed earlier on, he was younger and had more energy. 

A major factor in Hermann’s decision was the opportunity to shift from his current role and do something different in his career. 

“Honestly I feel like if I don’t try something different now then I never will,” Herrmann said. “I just want to go out and try something different and have a new challenge.”

Herrmann believes the school is fortunate to have the amount of support they receive from families, coaches and fans. 

“We’ve got great fans here,” Herrmann said. “And I would say that just getting to meet a lot of those fans has been a joy. Fans that don’t have kids here. Maybe they have grandkids here or maybe they’re just fans and they have nobody here. But that part I think has been nice. Also meeting so many wonderful people and get to know them and develop relationships with them.”

Herrmann also spoke on the championships won by the various teams in his tenure. He credited the players and coaches for earning the state titles for Mater Dei. 

Herrmann also referenced the facility upgrades in his time as Athletic Director at Mater Dei. He specifically noted the new gymnasium and the turf football field, which he said is used almost every day. 

Sam Fleming, a 2009 graduate of Mater Dei, is set to replace Herrmann as the school’s Athletic Director. Fleming will begin in the new role at the beginning of April. 

 “(He) wants to come back,” Herrmann said. “He wants to be here. He enjoyed his time here or else he wouldn’t want to come back to this job. His brothers went to school here. Grew up in the feeder school system. He came back. He coached a few years here. He’s a Mater Dei kid. He wants to be here and he wants to give his time and talents back to the school.”

Mater Dei Head Football Coach Mike Goebel lauded Herrmann’s work as Athletic Director for the school for the past 21 years. Goebel said Herrmann has “been phenomenal.” He said he is a very likable person with a great personality who gets along with others. 

“He’s right there first in line to congratulate and help,” Goebel said. “And he does whatever he can for whatever student athlete, every teacher, every player here, every coach here. We’re going to miss Joe. I know we got a great AD coming but Joe’s going to be sorely missed.”