ISHPEMING - John Jessen has been selected as the new Westwood High School varsity football coach.
He'll replace current WHS athletic director Jon Beckman, who left the coaching position to spend more time with his family. Beckman went 9-9 overall in two seasons at WHS, including a 3-6 mark last season.
Beckman said Jessen will be formally hired at the NICE Community Schools' Board of Education meeting set for Monday, May 20.
Jessen has served as Beckman's assistant coach the last two seasons and has been a varsity assistant for three seasons total.
Beckman said Jessen has also been Westwood's head junior varsity coach, as well as a freshman head coach before that.
"He has some coaching experience," Beckman said. "He's a football 'teacher' who's a good communicator with students and athletes alike.
"He's not a screamer, but he knows who needs to be pushed and those who need an arm around them, as well."
Jessen, who Beckman said is "30 or 31" yeas old, played football at Kingsford High School. He currently teaches industrial technology at WHS, a job he has held for seven years.
"His greatest asset is the athletes respond to him," Beckman said. "They want to do well for him."
Beckman said the WHS coaching job had been offered to former Michigan Tech and Northern Michigan University head football coach Bernie Anderson.
"Bernie had applied and been interviewed for the job," Beckman said. "But he pulled his name out of the hat because of an opportunity he may have in the Ishpeming district as an administrator."
The Westwood AD said Jessen was the school's "top choice" before Anderson applied.
"But John decided to step aside when Bernie applied," Beckman said. "He knew Bernie's coaching knowledge and experience would benefit our program."
Once Anderson declined the coaching position - which would have included a teaching job at WHS - "we went right back to John," Beckman said.
"He jumped right back in with both feet. He has already started planning with me for summer camps and the coming season.
"We're lucky he has decided to take on that huge responsibility," he said.