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John Lavelle

Assistant Coach —  1976-96


From 1976 to 1996, John P. Lavelle served as probably the most intense assistant coach the Bettendorf football program has ever had—and considering all of the coaches that have worn the Black and Gold, that’s a lot to be said.  Growing up on the South side of Chicago in the early ‘60s, Lavelle graduated from Calumet High School and then attended Woodrow Wilson Junior College (now called Kennedy-King Jr. College) which is also in the Windy City.  While at WWJC, Lavelle was also member of the 1966 football team until an injury ended his athletic career—and temporarily his academic one.  Joining the Army on October 18th, 1966, Lavelle eventually was sent to Vietnam in September of ’68—but not before marrying the former Martha Fentem on August 3.  After serving his tour of duty in Vietnam, Lavelle returned to college and graduated from Western Illinois University; eventually, all of his knowledge, experiences, and worldly travels would come into to play while helping mold Bettendorf into a dynasty.          

Lavelle’s first job—as he described—was “…a semester fill-in down in Lee Central High School” (in Iowa) where he coached both football and girls’ basketball.  After a brief stint at Lee, Lavelle then returned to his home state when he took a head football coaching job at Leaf River High School.  At the time, the River Demons were owners of a 21-game losing streak—but that quickly ended after Lavelle assumed head duties and the River Demons finished the season ended with a 5-4 campaign.  Lavelle then moved on—this time to the college ranks—when he returned to Western Illinois as a graduate assistant where he coached the junior varsity offensive line.  A short time later Lavelle then settled in the Quad Cities when he was hired to teach at Rock Island High School and coach both the offensive and defensive ends.      

In 1976 Lavelle began his teaching and coaching career at Bettendorf High School; in his own words he said, “I had moved so much in those first few years of coaching that I never intended to stay at Bettendorf for very long. Then, one Friday night during warm-ups, Coach Randy Scott came up to me and said, ‘Congratulations!...we’ve been here for twenty years!’ I could not believe him.  I guess it’s true that time flies when you’re having a good time.  And believe me, we had good times. I was able to work with some really talented and hard-working young men while at Bettendorf.  It was that hard work that produced—and still produces—the Bulldog Mystic in Iowa.”  While at BHS, Lavelle taught English and coached football, track, and golf.      

In 1991, Lavelle was honored for his hard work and dedication by being named the Iowa Football Coaches Association “Assistant Coach of the Year.”  However, Lavelle humbly stressed that the greatest honor he had was being able to coach his two sons as Bulldogs:  Stephen was a starting tight end on both the 1987 and ’88 state championship squads while John was his team’s leading receiving and a member of the All-Conference team in 1994.  As well, although Lavelle has retired from teaching, he currently still is involved in coaching Bettendorf athletes and at present time is the girls’ head track coach.  As well, he
—along with Merv Habenicht—returned to the gridiron as a coach for the Quad City Steamwheelers for the 2007 af2 season.