Veteran Coaches Return to the Steelhawks Staff
Bethlehem, PA: The Lehigh Valley Steelhawks are happy to announce the core coaching staff for the upcoming 2016 season. Fifth year Head Coach Chris Thompson continues to surround himself with veteran personnel in his coaching box. Returning to the coaching staff is Kenny Miller – Special Teams Coordinator and OL Coach and Bob Kohler – LB Coach and Director of Player Personnel. New to the Steelhawks organization is Bernie Nowotarski, who will be the Hawks Defensive Coordinator and DB Coach.
Coach Thompson enters his fifth season with the Steelhawks organization. In the Steelhawks first year in the PIFL, he guided them to their first winning season, a 3rd place finish, and 2nd consecutive post-season berth. Prior to Thompson coming to the Steelhawks, he worked for the Philadelphia Soul (AFL) as the Manager of Football Programs. Thompson also spent six years with the Reading Express Organization as a former Quarterback, Head Coach, Offensive Coordinator and Assistant General Manager. In his six seasons there he helped the Express to achieve an amazing 73-27 record. He had responsibilities that ranged from selling sponsorships, selling group tickets, and recruiting players to name a few. In his first three seasons as a Head Coach, he has yet to miss the post season action and has enjoyed helping more than 25+ young men move up to higher professional leagues, like the NFL, CFL, and AFL.
Over the years coaching and managing, he has accumulated five Northern Division Championships in 2006 – 2009 & 2011, two Eastern Conference Championships, the 2009 AIFA Bowl III Championship by beating the Wyoming Calvary 65-42 in Casper, Wyoming and 8 out of the last 9 seasons has participated in post season action. He has also been the Head Coach the last three seasons of the National Bowl All-Star Game that is held in December for college standouts. Thompson has recruited and coached several players over the years who have made it to the next level, signing contracts in those leagues like wide receivers Tyrone Collins and Tom Gilson, defensive ends Larry Ford and Brian Brikowski, and Offensive Linemen Travis Miller and Mike Simons to name a few. This will be his 11th season involved with professional Indoor Arena Football as a former player, coach, and front office personnel.
Thompson also had a successful playing career both collegiately and professionally where he played Indoor Arena football for six years in multiple leagues. He attended Bloomsburg University on a football scholarship after graduating from Manheim Central High School in 1997. As a former record setting Quarterback and captain of the Bloomsburg University football team, he helped lead the team to back-to-back PSAC and Lambert Cup Championships in 2000 and 2001along with a berth in the NCAA Division II Playoffs both years. In 2000, the Huskies played Delta State for the Division II National Championship game on ESPN but lost to the Statesmen. In 2001, the Huskies went back to the NCAA Div. II playoffs and lost to Grand Valley State in the quarterfinals but finished up with a record of 22-4 in those 2 years. He graduated from Bloomsburg University in 2002 with a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Management and currently resides in Reading, PA with his wife Leeann, daughter Haley, and son Kellen.
Coach Miller returns for his fourth season in the Valley. He brings to the Steelhawks twenty-three years of coaching experience at all levels from high school to professional. Coach Miller’s career achievement has been five Divisional Championships, two Conference Championships, and one AIFA League Championship in the professional ranks. Coach Miller and Coach Thompson have had a prior working relationship, where they spent 6 years together with the Reading Express organization. This is where they won multiple championships together and a part of an amazing 73 wins out of 100 games in those 6 years.
Coach Kohler is back with the Hawks for his third season, taking on a bigger role this year as he takes over as Director of Player Personnel. He has coached for more than 40 year. He spent 3 years at the high school level and 38 at the college level (Kutztown University, Muhlenberg College, and Moravian College); coaching all positions throughout his career. He has coached 12 All-Americans, scores of All-Conference players, coached in nine NCAA Division III National Championship Tournaments, and four Eastern Collegiate Conference Division III Bowl games. Kohler has spent six years coaching at a professional arena level with the Lehigh Valley Outlawz, New Jersey Revolution, and Trenton Freedom where he was the defensive coordinator.
In 2013 and 2014, he also served as the Head Coach for the Lehigh Valley Storm Minor League football team where he amassed a 22-5 record, 2 Conference Championships, and advanced to the National Championship game in Memphis, TN. Kohler currently serves as the Offensive Coordinator for the Bangor High School football team, and he was recently inducted into the Lehigh Valley Sports Hall of Fame. He lives in Coplay, PA with his wife. He has a son and daughter, as well as three grand children; and he is a retired Public School Teacher/Administrator from the Allentown School District and now works as an Educational Consultant for TURNING STONEchoice in Voorhees, NJ.
Coach Nowotarski joins the Steelhawks staff for the first time after having previously coached with both Thompson and Miller for many years in Reading and Harrisburg. In Nowotarski’s ten seasons of indoor coaching, he has amassed a 94-40 regular season record. His 12-6 playoff record includes five division titles, three conference championships, and two national championship victories with different teams (in the AIFA with the Reading Express in 2009, and the AIF with the Harrisburg Stampede in 2013). He was named Coach of the Year in both of those championship seasons.
Nowotarski has had tremendous success as a player as well as a coach. He is a member of a number of local football Hall of Fames including – Exeter Township High School, Kutztown University, Berks County Sports HOF, Berks Chapter of PA Sports HOF, and he was an All-American at Kutztown University for both football and track.
Three seasons ago he was diagnosed with Multiple Myeloma; an incurable blood cancer in the bone marrow. My wife Jill and our eight children and three grandchildren are my strength and inspiration to fight every day. “That’s the fight I plan on bringing to the LV Steelhawks organization. I look forward to coaching again with Chris Thompson and Kenny Miller as well as the rest of Steelhawk Staff. I want to thank the Clark Family for the opportunity to be a part of the Steelhawks Family. Let’s make the 2015 Season one to remember.”
Coach Thompson is excited to be working with such a familiar and experienced group. “We’ve had some unforeseen change this off-season with the loss of some coaches but I couldn’t be more thrilled with this 2016 coaching staff. Being able to retain Coach Miller and Coach Kohler and bringing Coach Bernie on board with us is very exciting. These guys are some of the best in the business and have all been doing it for a long time. We have accomplished a ton of success and not many can say they have made four straight playoffs but we want that Championship in 2016 and we are all committed in going after it!”
Fans are reminded that 2016 season ticket deposits are being accepted now to reserve your seats for the upcoming season. You can reserve your seats by calling the Steelhawks front office at 610-282-3100. Ticket packages start as low as $48!
Keep checking for the latest news and events from the Steelhawks! For further information please call Lehigh Valley Steelhawks Executive Vice President and General Manager Mike Clark at (610) 282-3100, or visit our website at www.LVSteelhawks.com for the latest Steelhawks news! 2015 Season Ticket packages are now on sale! Reserve your seat now by calling the Steelhawks office at 610-282-3100.
The Steelhawks are a PROFESSIONAL Arena Football team that plays in The Professional Indoor Football League. The PIFL (www.proifl.com) is a eight team league with franchises in six states. The league holds a 12-game regular season schedule that runs March through June. The PIFL’s playoffs culminate in late June with the PIFL Championship Cup. Season ticket packages start as low as $8 per game (or $48 for the full season) and games are an exciting event for people of the Lehigh Valley to attend on weekend nights.