Dan Boggan would be a man in blue if his career took the path he initially envisioned.
The Lansing native’s dreams of being a police officer have been replaced by a love of working with kids and coaching.
“I hadn’t planned on getting involved in education,” said Boggan, who is now the assistant principal at Sexton after starting at the school in public safety and then as a student-support specialist. “It all started with me just waiting on the academy to re-open. I had already met with officials from the police department, and they were going to pay for me to go through the academy and I was excited about it. When the freeze was open, that’s what I was going to transition into. I fell in love with coaching and fell in love with the kids. Next thing you know, you’re almost at 25 years in the district and over 20 years coaching.”
Boggan has made his impact in the hallways, on the football field and beyond in his more than two decades working at Sexton. And he has enjoyed a significant amount of success in his 15 seasons as the Big Reds’ varsity football coach.
Boggan has taken the Sexton program to new heights since taking over for Bob Meyers in 2002, and with Friday’s opening-round playoff victory over Williamston became the winningest coach in school history. He enters Sexton’s Division 4 district final against Lakewood with 105 career coaching victories. Boggan never imagined sticking around long enough to pass the person he worked under as a defensive coordinator.
But Boggan’s love of the people he worked with, having the chance to shape the lives of youth in his hometown and helping Sexton football reach new heights have kept him going.
“When you fall in love with something and you fall in love with the kids you work with and then the people you work with and (then) you start focusing on different goals that you want to accomplish (it’s hard to leave),” said Boggan, who also is a track coach at the school. “(It’s like) I want to get this group through, let me see this group through. Before too long, your five years turns into 10 and your 10 into 15 and 16.”
The primary goal Boggan had when taking over was to build on the success Sexton had experienced under Meyers. The Big Reds reached the postseason four times while Boggan was an assistant for Meyers and won a playoff game just once.
There’s been plenty of playoff success under Boggan, who has guided the Big Reds to playoff wins in each of their last six appearances. Sexton is a couple years removed from becoming the first Lansing city program to reach a football state championship game and won a combined 25 games during the 2013-14 seasons.
Last fall marked just the fifth time the Big Reds have failed to reach the playoffs under Boggan’s direction. But Sexton has bounced back from that 2-7 season this fall with a 7-3 mark and finds itself in the hunt for a fourth district title since 2010.
“He’s done a great job,” Sexton Athletic Director Chris Henderson said. “It helps for him to be in the school, active in the community. When you put all those pieces together with the school support and community support, the support that his staff and the teachers give the students – all those pieces helped him become successful.”
Boggan has been pleased with the growth of this year’s team to get to this point. The 33 player roster has just eight seniors. Several team members went through the struggles of losing a number of close games at the varsity level a year ago. Others were part of a junior varsity team that didn’t have success.
The success is there this year for the group, which has helped Boggan reach a special milestone.
And he hopes there’s more to come as he enjoys the journey of a career he didn’t imagine getting into.
“There is still a lot of growing that is happening with this group,” Boggan said. “They’ve come a long way. A lot of development from last year to this year and a lot of maturity has happened and is going to continue to. I’m hoping that we have four more weeks to keep developing and maturing. You see the growth happening with our players each week. We’re learning different things still about each other.
“It’s probably one of the slower developing teams I’ve been around, but it’s a group that desires to really be good at football. They’re not afraid of hard work and that’s why they’ve had the success they’ve had. I told them this year that they’re not most talented team (I’ve had), no doubt. They are hard workers and they do have some talent and they are understanding they have the ability to be playmakers and game changers. That’s spreading among the team.”