Dan Vanderjeugdt Inspiring Niles West Since 2000


Dan Vanderjeugdt

Dan Vanderjeugdt poses for a selfie

By Ella Lindemann, Features Editor

Physical education teacher and boy’s head varsity swim coach Dan Vanderjeugdt has worked at Niles West for 21 years and still finds joy in every day with his students and athletes. Vanderjeugdt teaches Adventure Ed. classes, a boys’ freshman P.E. class and integrated P.E. In the winter he coaches the boys’ varsity swim team.

Before he came to Niles West, Vanderjeugdt realized his love for working with a younger age group while at a YMCA, where he spent time as an aquatics director and head coach for their swim team. When the YMCA closed, he decided to continue working with students and earned a masters degree in Physical Education at Roosevelt University. In the year 2000 he interviewed for his current position at Niles West.

“My favorite part about being a P.E. teacher is just getting to see and work with these kids every day,” Vanderjeugdt said. He especially enjoys teaching the Adventure Ed. P.E. class because he gets to help students get out of their comfort zones. “To me that is a really important thing to have in life: knowing how to come out of that comfort zone because it’s going to happen your whole life.”

“He’s very considerate and wants the best for his students,” junior Elliot Myung said.

Vanderjeugdt has been a swim coach for the past 29 years and has helped the Niles West boys’ varsity swim team achieve many wins at swim meets and make new personal best times. “I’m very fortunate that I have some great kids come in, and they’re the ones that make it, so we’re doing pretty well” Vanderjeugdt said. He reports that about 97% of the team will make a new best time at the end of each season.

“I really liked him as a coach. He was always very enthusiastic and made sure we gave it our all. He made sure everyone felt like they were part of the team and welcome,” Niles West alum Lance Tran said.

Vanderjeugdt’s love for coaching at the pool extends even to his summers where he runs a pool at a country club. “I manage the pool, I run the swim team and I do probably 20 to 25 private lessons a week,” Vanderjeugdt said. There was one summer that Vanderjeugdt was finishing up his master’s degree so he didn’t work at the pool. “My wife said to me, ‘You will never ever take another summer off,’ because I didn’t know what to do with myself. I was bored and I have to work… I decided that this was a good thing, It’s fun and it’s everything I know.”

Outside of work Vanderjeugdt enjoys — you guessed it — working out. “It’s really changed my life, as far as getting in shape,” Vanderjeugdt said. Boating and skiing are among his favorite ways to get in some exercise, and he takes a couple of trips to Colorado every year to ski. His family also keeps him busy. “My kids are very active, so I try and keep up with them and do as much as I can with them,” Vanderjeugdt said.

Whether Vanderjeugdt is your P.E. teacher, swim coach or just someone you see in the hallway, don’t be afraid to say “hello,” because he will always have a smile and a “hello” to answer with. His dedication to students and athletes is inspiring to many and his impression on Niles West will last for generations to come.