The 2019 season will be the 11th as Lake Forest’s head coach and 14th at the College for Jim Catanzaro. In the spring of 2019 he added the title of Assistant Director of Athletics overseeing sports performance and the Forester Game Plan.
The Foresters were 6-4 overall and finished second in the Midwest Conference South Division standings with a league record of 4-1 in 2018. A dozen players on the team were named All-MWC South, including four first team selections on offense, three on defense, and one on special teams. Lake Forest ranked in the top half of the league in scoring offense and defense and, individually, linebacker Jordan McInerney led the conference in tackles for loss while quarterback Jagan Cleary and kicker/punter Michael Bounds were second in passing yards and yards per punt, respectively.
The Foresters' winning season in 2018 was their third in a row and Lake Forest's 22-8 record since 2016 represents the second-best three-year run in program history. With victories in four of five home games, the team is 27-9 on Farwell Field in the last seven 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 10 seasons as head coach, Catanzaro ranks second in program history in career victories. His players have earned 99 All-MWC honors since he took over as head coach, including 44 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 school records in 71 different categories during that time, including a 12-game winning streak and the highest scoring totals in a season, game, half, and quarter.
Lake Forest was especially successful on the defensive side of the ball with Catanzaro as defensive coordinator from 2006-17. In addition to ranking among the conference and national leaders in several statistical categories as a team, individual defensive players 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 have had 67 Academic All-MWC honorees over the last three years and have amassed 152 such honors in his 10 seasons as head coach. In addition, 22 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 360 care packages to be sent to American troops overseas and the squad has raised more than $100,000 in the last decade 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. In 2019 he was appointed as one of two NCAA Division III members to the American Football Coaches Association (AFCA) Board of Trustees.
Catanzaro came to Lake Forest from NCAA Division II Wingate University, where he was the defensive line coach for three seasons and was part of the South Atlantic Conference Coaching Staff of the Year in 2004. The Bulldog defense tallied 86 sacks, led the SAC 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 WVIAC 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.