Johanik assumes reins at Wheaton Academy

  • John Starks/jstarks@dailyherald.comWheaton Academy's Alex Ventimilla makes a long gain against Bishop McNamara in a football game in West Chicago Thursday.

    John Starks/jstarks@dailyherald.comWheaton Academy's Alex Ventimilla makes a long gain against Bishop McNamara in a football game in West Chicago Thursday.

 
 
Updated 3/14/2020 3:44 PM

Jim Johanik and his family joined the Wheaton Academy community due to Brad Thornton's character and influence as a football coach.

"We even moved right across the street about two years ago," Johanik said.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

He's drawn even closer to Warriors football. The junior varsity coach the past three seasons, on Wednesday Johanik was announced as the program's fourth head coach since the West Chicago school renewed football in 2006.

"We want to build on what Brad has done," Johanik said.

In seven years Thornton compiled a 38-37 record with playoff appearances three of the last four seasons.

Vice principal for instruction and co-head of the English department at Wheaton Academy, Thornton resigned as head coach due to increased family, professional and church leadership responsibilities, according to a statement by the school.

He will remain on the football staff as assistant head coach, said Johanik, 48.

"There's not going to be a systemic difference from the way we've run our (spread) offense in years past. I firmly believe we have everything we need to run an effective offense," Johanik said.

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A two-way lineman at Willowbrook High School, Class of 1989, and co-captain at Wheaton College his senior season in 1993, in 2017 Johanik directed Wheaton Academy's first winning junior varsity team at 5-4. The squad went 7-2 last season.

Also a wrestling assistant, his football coaching background includes 10 years with Naperville Youth Football and offensive line coach at Sterling College in Kansas.

With Heidi, his wife of 24 years, Johanik is a father of five children, including Derek, a 2019 Wheaton Academy graduate and Wheaton College freshman; and Peter, a high school sophomore. Both are linemen.

"Competitive to the core," Jim Johanik said, he leads Cru's global Christian ministry to marketplace leaders, LeaderImpact.

His aim is using football as preparation for adult life.

"These high school kids, I think we lose sight of the fact that a lot of them won't be playing college football," he said. "And if they do, the cleats eventually are going to get hung up, there's an endgame out there. I teach the game so that it'll transfer into life, the lessons learned on the field."

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