Football players, coaches and administration welcome Lindheim to EC

Football+players%2C+coaches+and+administration+welcome+Lindheim+to+EC

For the last 31 years, El Camino’s football program won games while developing men as both players and students under the leadership of coach John Featherstone.

But with Featherstone’s retirement at the end of the 2015 season, a three-month coaching search began filled with speculation over who would follow in his footsteps.

That speculation turned to excitement when Santa Monica College head football coach Gifford Lindheim announced he was taking the job at EC via Twitter.

“(Gifford) did a great job at Santa Monica, obviously good enough to have the opportunity to take over here,” Featherstone said of his successor. “I’m going to be anxious. It’s going to be a learning process, but I’m sure he will get everyone bought in real fast. I will always have football in my blood, so I am very excited for the start of next season.”

Lindheim previously worked as co-defensive coordinator under Featherstone during the 2008-09′ season at EC.

Coach Eugene Engle, who served as offensive coordinator last year, is confident in Lindheim as a leader.

“He is really engaged with the players,” Engle said. “He is strong in building relationships and bringing people together.”

Engle said he’s also looking forward to seeing the level of competition that Lindheim brings.

“We love when the players go out there and earn their spots,” Engle said.

Lindheim said that with the support of the staff and administration, and the opening of the new $40 million football stadium, El Camino College was a destination job for him.

“I’m thrilled to be joining this campus community, and I am excited to help our team reach its full potential,” Lindheim said.

Lindheim is making his return to EC after a seven-year coaching stint at Santa Monica College, while also coming off one of the best years in SMC football history.

Lindheim led the Corsairs to an undefeated season in 2015, topping it off with a blowout victory over Victor Valley College in the Southern California Football Association American Division Championship game.

He also led SMC to five consecutive conference championships, while earning five conference coach of the year awards.

Aside from all the football accolades, his family-type team culture was valued by the administration.

“We inspire our athletes to be students first so that they can leave this college within two years, that is what we have brought (Lindheim) in here to do.” Dean of Health Science and Athletics, Rory Natividad said. “He has already proven that he can win and I trust that he can continue that legacy at El Camino College. This really is a great time to be a Warrior!”

Lindheim’s staff back at SMC also spoke highly of his character.

Tim Kaub, who coached with Lindheim for four years at Venice High School and again as the offensive coordinator at SMC for the last three seasons, believes EC has found the right person to bring its storied football program back to the top.

“I have come across a lot of coaches and (Gifford) by far cares the most about the kids and his staff more than anybody I have ever worked with,” Kaub said. “He is going to bring a culture of winning that will get all of the athletes bought in real quick.”