LYNDEN - Nobody knows you better or how to push the right buttons for motivation better than family, and there's no doubt Dan Kaemingk is family for the Lynden Christian football team.
Not only was Kaemingk the Lyncs' head coach for 21 years, leading them to their only state championship in 1997 before stepping down following the 2010 season, he is the cousin of current LC coach Galen Kaemingk.
After two years off, Dan returns to coach the team's defense.
"At the family reunion, I threatened Dan and made all sorts of threatening remarks at him and said, 'Look, you need to come back,'" Galen joked. "He was itching to come back. He had a couple of years off, got his batteries recharged and was ready to come back.
"For me, it's just a dream come true. All these years living apart and kind of following each other from afar, now to have this chance to work together, it's very exciting, and I think he's excited, too."
The coaches certainly aren't the only ones excited by Dan's return, as there is a noticeable difference in practice, especially during defensive drills.
"We have a bit more intensity this year, and we're flying around," senior tight end/defensive lineman Josh Hornstra said. "We're just having more fun, overall, on defense. ... It definitely feels like it makes sense more this year."
It better make sense, because the new defensive coach has his troops working at a higher pace this year.
"We're getting in a lot more reps every time," senior lineman Joe Kooiman said. "He strives for reps. We're getting the scout team up there real quick and getting in more plays, which will help us a lot when we get into the game."
That higher pace has even spilled over the other side of the ball.
But then again, LC was already hoping to be rather quick on offense in 2013.
"I think we're going to be faster this year, which will be good," junior quarterback Daulton Hommes said. "We should be able to have more speed out there, which means we can throw the ball more."
The Lyncs hope the quicker pace and increased focus on defense will help them rebound from a frustrating conclusion to 2012, when they lost all five Northwest Conference 1A games to finish 4-6 overall.
"We know that we have the team here, and we to believe we can win games," Kooiman said. "We know we can, but once things start going bad, we need to make sure we still believe and we have heart. We need confidence and unity in our team."
While time will tell if LC can build that confidence and unity, one thing is already definite - the Lyncs plan to play with more energy in 2013.
"We're going to come out with a lot more passion," Hommes said. "That's our theme for this year. We have our goals, and we're determined to make it there."
The coaching addition certainly has had a hand in that, as many of the Lyncs can remember playing for Dan, and he brings and unmistakable energy to the practice field, as seen when LC ran the Oklahoma Drill on Wednesday, Aug. 28.
"He's a great teacher, and he's got a lot of experience," Galen said. "Those two things are hard to find, especially at the high school level. When you have all that experience, you can see things happening, you can prepare your kids, and he does it in a manner that the kids understand and respond to it."
The Lyncs will try to turn that into success when they open at home on Sept. 6 against Omak, the school Galen previously coached before coming to LC.
"It's whole different involvement than we've had in years past," Hornstra said. "We have a lot more passion this year. It's more fun and higher intensity and more passionate."
Reach David Rasbach at email@example.com or 360-715-2286.
FOOTBALL CAMP UPDATES
This is the last of 11 preseason looks at the high school football programs in Whatcom County. Look for the 2013 season preview in the Friday, Sept. 6, edition of The Bellingham Herald.
Reach DAVID RASBACH at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 715-2271.