Joe Hageman’s ties to Salt Fork football are longstanding.
Before the school district even existed, he played the sport at Catlin.
Joe’s dad, Dan, was that program’s head coach during Joe’s high school days.
And Joe has been an assistant for the Storm the last 13 years, serving alongside his father and underneath Brian Plotner.
Now, Joe Hageman will be at the forefront of Salt Fork football.
The 1994 Catlin graduate on Wednesday was announced as the Storm’s new leader, pending school board approval next week.
Hageman replaces Plotner, who stepped down from the position in January after 17 campaigns in charge.
“(I was) excited, nervous all at the same time,” Hageman said. “It’s a really unique experience to get the opportunity to come back home and have the opportunity to take over a program like Salt Fork.”
Hageman has filled the role of offensive coordinator since 2009 after three seasons as the Storm’s offensive line coach.
Prior to that, he had stints at LeRoy and Tri-Valley dating back to 1999.
Hageman’s interest in running the Salt Fork squad was piqued by what he saw from not only its most recent varsity roster, but also from even younger athletes.
“The kids in the system I see coming up are such tremendous kids,” Hageman said. “I’m hoping that what I can bring is to not only continue the success on the field, but help the kids grow into being leaders.”
The Storm is coming off a 6-4 season in which it earned its fourth consecutive Class 1A postseason berth, falling to Arcola in the opening round.
Salt Fork graduates 15 seniors but returns kids like top running back Tate Johnson and the area’s leading tackler, Payton Taylor.
“All 12 months, you have kids doing stuff, trying to get themselves ready for the next season,” Hageman said, “and our kids do a very good job of doing the work in the offseason and buying into that work.”
Hageman, the assistant principal at Salt Fork South Elementary and Salt Fork Junior High, feels the familiarity that exists between himself and his pupils also can serve the team well.
And Hageman doesn’t anticipate the Storm being altered too much from its longtime appearance under Plotner.
“I don’t think the approach will be a whole lot different,” Hageman said. “Just some things will be different based on my personality. I don’t necessarily see big changes.”