The 2018 season will be the 10th as Lake Forest’s head coach and 13th at the College for Jim Catanzaro.
The Foresters were 8-2 overall and finished second in the Midwest Conference South Division standings with a league record of 4-1 in 2017. Thirteen players on the team were named All-MWC South, including running back Joey Valdivia, the MWC Offensive Skill MVP, and R.J. Pompey, a first team selection as a defensive back and special teams player for the second year in a row. Valdivia also earned First Team All-West Region honors from D3football.com and First Team All-American accolades from the American Football Coaches Association. Pompey was among eight Lake Forest players to conclude their collegiate careers at the Tazón de Estrellas (Game of the Stars) in Tijuana, Mexico, in December.
The Foresters’ eight-win season in 2017 was their second in a row and fourth in the last six years. Lake Forest also had back-to-back 8-2 records in 2012 and 2013 to match the highest two-year victory total in program history. The team is 23-8 on Farwell Field in the last six seasons with a school record-tying 10-game home winning streak from 2012-13.
Catanzaro was named MWC Coach of the Year in 2012 after Lake Forest earned a share of the fifth conference title in team history. He has also been a finalist for the Liberty Mutual Coach of the Year award twice in his tenure. After nine seasons as head coach, Catanzaro ranks third in program history in career victories. His players have earned 87 All-MWC honors since he took over as head coach, including 36 First Team accolades and a pair of Offensive Player of the Year/Skill MVP awards. Six players on the team have been named All-West Region by D3football.com and five have earned All-American distinction. The Foresters have also broken or tied 68 school records during that time, including a 12-game winning streak and the highest scoring totals in a season, game, half, and quarter.
Lake Forest has been especially successful on the defensive side of the ball since Catanzaro took over as defensive coordinator in 2006. In addition to ranking among the conference and national leaders in several statistical categories as a team, individual defensive players have tallied 59 all-conference honors during that time.
Catanzaro’s team’s improvement on the field has coincided with its increased success in the classroom. The Foresters had 19 Academic All-MWC honorees in 2017-18 and have amassed 133 such honors in his nine seasons as head coach. In addition, 16 players on the team have been selected to the prestigious Hampshire Society of the National Football Foundation and one was named Capital One Academic All-District® in 2013.
Forester Football has also been extremely involved in the community under Catanzaro’s watch. The team’s annual Heroes Day efforts have generated more than 340 care packages to be sent to American troops overseas and the squad has raised more than $92,000 over the last nine years in Lake Forest’s Relay for Life initiative. The College has twice presented the team with the Program of the Year award for its participation in on-campus events. Catanzaro’s players have also contributed to numerous other community service projects, both individually and as a group, and have averaged more than 500 hours of community service per semester over the last five years.
At the national level Catanzaro has served on the NCAA Division III Football Committee since 2016 and as a Regional Advisory Committee member since 2014.
Catanzaro came to Lake Forest from NCAA Division II Wingate University, where he was the defensive line coach for three seasons. The Bulldog defense tallied 86 sacks, led the South Atlantic Conference in turnovers twice, and helped the 2004 team post the best single-season record in the program’s history. In addition, a pair of Wingate players earned All-American honors under his direction. He was also the head strength coach for all Wingate sports.
Prior to his time at Wingate, Catanzaro was the defensive line coach, recruiting coordinator, and head strength coach for three seasons at Glenville State College. The Pioneers claimed the West Virginia Intercollegiate Athletic Conference title in 2001 and he was a member of that year’s SAC Coaching Staff of the Year.
Catanzaro graduated from Greenville University, where he started every game of his career and earned all-conference honors on both sides of the ball. He also handled all the long snapping duties. The team captured a conference title his senior season. Catanzaro also lettered twice in basketball and once in tennis.
He later earned a master’s degree in communications studies from West Virginia University.
Catanzaro, his wife Catherine, and their children Caden and Katie reside in nearby Gurnee.