Celebrated graduate enters 50th year in coaching
by Rama Peroo
Sharing his knowledge of the game, Jan Chapman, who was inducted into Cowley College’s Tiger Athletic Hall of Fame in 2005, is entering his 50th year in coaching.
Chapman was a track, football, and basketball standout at Arkansas City Junior College. Although no longer playing sports, Chapman has remained involved with the game of football as a coach for the past 50 years.
His résumé includes coaching stops at several San Diego schools, including Marian (now Mater Dei Catholic), Castle Park, Bonita Vista, Southwestern Community College and Eastlake High School.
He was the head football coach for six years at Marian, five at Bonita Vista and one at Southwestern Community College. The other 39 years have passed as an assistant. He is currently serving as the offensive coordinator at Eastlake High School in Chula Vista, where he has spent the past seven years.
During his time at the school, Eastlake has advanced to the semifinals
of the CIF (California Interscholastic Federation) each year, including
2009 when they were champions of San Diego.
He coached boy’s basketball (two section titles at Marian) and track, but football is his passion.
“I enjoy working with the young guys.
I like to think it has helped keep me young,” Chapman said.
Chapman was a History major and minored in English, Physical Education, and Philosophy. He taught a majority of classes, but primarily World History and U.S. History, and retired as a teacher at Hilltop High School in 1999.
Chapman began thinking of a career in coaching and teaching when he was growing up in Arkansas City. Although 75 now, he still walks with a bounce to his step.
“I love coaching today as much as I did 50 years ago,” Chapman said.
Prior to entering the coaching and teaching profession, Chapman starred as an All-State quarterback for the 1953 Arkansas City High School state football champions. Chapman turned down a scholarship offer to attend the University of Arizona and instead followed his friends to Arkansas City Junior College (now Cowley College).
Chapman played quarterback for the 1954 Tiger football team that went 5-3-1, and was a member of the 1954-55 Jayhawk Western Division champion/Region VI champion basketball team that finished fourth at the national tournament. He also was elected freshmen class president.
After a semester at ACJC, Chapman decided to accept the scholarship offer to the University of Arizona. He lettered in track and football during two semesters in Tucson, but then decided to join the Navy.
Chapman spent two years in the Navy, and played football, basketball and baseball at the naval center. After his stint in the Navy, Chapman re-enrolled at ACJC in the spring semester of 1958.
This time, Chapman concentrated solely on track, and went on to finish undefeated in the javelin, winning the Kansas and National Junior College championships.
He has several fond memories of his time at ACJC.
“It was a plus all the way,” Chapman said.
After the spring semester at ACJC, Chapman accepted a football scholarship to the University of San Diego, where he participated in football, basketball and baseball.
Chapman was a three-year starter in football, was named an honorable mention Small College All-American, and was third in the nation in punting in both his sophomore and senior seasons. He also was named associated student body president his senior year.
Following his graduation from San Diego in 1961, Chapman signed a short-lived free agent contract with the San Diego Chargers of the National Football League. His roommate during training camp was Chargers’ team captain Jack Kemp, who spent 13 years as an NFL quarterback and later served as a United States senator.
Legendary head coach Sid Gillman was the coach of the Chargers, while Chuck Knoll and Al Davis were assistant coaches on Gillman’s staff. All three coaches are members of the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
In 1962, Chapman began his teaching and coaching
career. He went on to earn numerous awards, including Coach of the
Year and Teacher of the Year. In 1995, he was inducted into the University
of San Diego’s
Hall of Fame.
He also served as an athletic director and social science department head, and was the head of the San Diego Chargers’ statistician spotters from 1968-1995.
Chapman credits his former teachers and coaches at ACJC with helping him get to where he is today.
“I especially think back on all the help I got from coach (Dan) Kahler; he was very fatherly to me and I really appreciated that,” Chapman said.
Chapman also recalls good things about Tiger track and field coach Reece Bohannon as well as former instructor Hoyt Piper.
Chapman returns to Arkansas City each year to visit his half-brother, Ross Rommell. While in town, he makes sure to see what’s new at the college.
“I have been amazed at all the stuff that has been built and am anxious to see the new (Travis Hafner) Training Center,” Chapman said.
As for coaching, Chapman has no plans of hanging it up any time soon.
“If I weren’t coaching, I’d probably be dying,” Chapman said. by Rama Peroo Director of Institutional Co