Gretna Alum Plans to Command Girls Track at GEHS

Coach Janssen Returns to Gretna with Experience


Brooke Rose (24)

As a new door opens, past experiences begin to resurface. Over the past few years, Gretna’s population has boomed and, with the new school eminent, many former faces are returning. Legacy has commonly been looked upon in the community with familiar families staying around and staking their claim. The new GEHS head girls’ track coach, Mr. Dana Janssen, is coming back to Gretna and will take charge of the new program.
“Being able to come back to this district, it’s really important to me,” Coach Janssen said. “Our family has created a pretty good culture and community feel around there. There’s only one school I would ever leave where I’m at to go to, and that’s back to Gretna.”
Growing up in Gretna, he comes back to a district with lots of change. While in high school, Coach Janssen was very active in sports participating in football, baseball, golf and basketball. He graduated from GHS in 2000 and attended Wayne State College until 2005. He accepted his first teaching position with Louisville Public Schools but left a year later for Papillion La-Vista High School where he has been teaching for the past 16 years as an Industrial Technology teacher.
During his tenure at Papillion La-Vista, Coach Janssen found time to coach and lead different areas. He has been a varsity assistant football coach for the past 14 years and was the head girls’ golf coach for two years. He has experience in track where he has been the girl’s head coach for the past six years and was an assistant coach for eight before that. Outside of sports, he has been the SkillsUSA sponsor for the last 13 years and a sponsor of the PL Club for the last ten. Track has always been an intriguing sport for Coach Janssen, and he has found a perfect blend between the good and the bad.
“Track is one of those relaxed sports, but it’s also mass chaos at the same time,” Coach Janssen said. “I say relax because it’s a six- to eight-hour meet, but they’re relaxed or having a good time and you can have a good conversation and really get to know what a kid is all about.”
Change has been in order since Coach Janssen graduated, but he comes back to a vastly different district. GEHS will have a year of firsts, and Coach Janssen will be one of the leaders. In addition to coaching girls’ track, he will be a wide receiver coach for the varsity football team. Beyond the world of coaching, he finds time to golf and spends time with his wife, Mary, and two kids Clay and Willa. Now with a year of beginnings ahead, he is following a similar path as other coaches by planning to continue the start of a fresh culture within his program.
“To start a program and a culture for the whole building is one of the biggest things I’m looking forward to,” Coach Janssen said. “I think with the staff that we have, in general, it’s not about ‘me’, it’s about ‘we’. Our staff can create a culture in our whole school that’s going to make our school the best school around town.”