Meet your Western Illinois Fall sports coaches

Michael Harms , Courier Staff

Soccer has already started their regular season, football started yesterday, volleyball starts this afternoon, golf and cross country are starting very soon, and even basketball will be here before you know it. While it is fun to get to know the players and stories off the field every single one of these teams has a leader. Someone these student-athletes look up to for guidance and leadership. Here are the coaches for your Fighting Leathernecks Fall sports teams.

Football: Head coach Jared Elliot. This is Elliot’s second year as head coach. He has been in the Western football program since 2012. He has also coached Carthage College and improved that team every year until 2016 where he joined Western once again. He was an assistant coach that year helping the 14-win 2017 campaign. Then he became the head coach and went 5-6 last year and missed the playoffs. If his resume holds up hopefully he will improve once again and bring the Purple and Gold to victory.

Soccer: Eric Johnson. This may be the most impressive coach at Western for one reason alone: longevity. Johnson was at Western before these freshman and even most sophomores were born; 1997. He coached men’s soccer and in his time has become the most winning most coach in Summit League history. He has won multiple post-season tournaments, Coach of the Year awards and even a couple regular season titles.

What makes Johnson so different than other coaches is that he coaches two teams. Both men and women’s soccer. He began coaching the women’s program in 2016. It has been a struggle to right the ship as each season has produced a losing record, but if there is a man for the job it is Johnson.

Cross Country: Diane Wholey. This is Wholey’s first year as a head coach for Western’s cross country joining the team in January of 2018. She has coached multiple Olympians with her work at USA track and field. She also has success at the collegiate level helping coach the Texas Longhorns to an NCAA indoor and outdoor national championship in 1998 and 1999. Her most recent job is working with USA track and field’s U-23 women’s team competing in the IAAF World Outdoor Championships. Here exceedingly impressive resume leads to excitement as the new season gets underway.

Golf: Lia Biehl Lukkarinen. Lukkarinen is entering her 15th year at Western since joining in 2005. Last year the golf team played in 10 events and shined in their last regular season event placing third at Indiana State out of 14. She has been as close as the runner up in The Summit League Championships, but never the winner. She is eager to accomplish that challenge and is looking to do so this year.

Volleyball: Ben Staupe. Staupe has been the volleyball coach for just one season. He posted a season with just two wins, but with some highlights. He wishes to turn the team around in his second season with the team.

These are the coaches for the starting sports of this semester. As you watch the players compete at the highest collegiate level understand who helps them prepare for each contest. Makes them a better competitor and even a better person. The coaches instilled a tradition of tough at Western, and hopefully the entire college will thank them for it.