Myers Hendrickson left his coaching position with the Kansas Wesleyan football program after the 2015 season, but certainly kept strong ties with a university and city he had grown to love in only two years here.

That was a major factor in Hendrickson applying for the position of Coyote head football coach earlier this month and also a huge factor in Wesleyan officials selecting him as Matt Drinkall’s replacement.

Wesleyan athletic director Mike Hermann introduced Hendrickson as the school’s next football coach in front of a large crowd Monday afternoon in the Student Activities Center.

“It is truly an honor to come back and serve as head coach at Kansas Wesleyan University,” Hendrickson said. “It’s just a special place that means so much to myself and my family.

“Ultimately I knew since the first time I was at Kansas Wesleyan that if I ever had that chance to come back and be head coach, I would love that opportunity.”

Hendrickson, 29, takes over a Wesleyan team that is coming off a record-setting season and one that will have some sky-high expectations for 2019. The Coyotes return a large number of starters from a team that went 13-1, was unbeaten in conference play and advanced to the NAIA national semifinals before taking its only loss.

“That’s the type of program you want to be a part of, somewhere there are already championship expectations,” Hendrickson said. “With me having some sweat equity here, I already understand that and I think that part makes it a good fit.”

Hendrickson was hired as a graduate assistant in 2014, Drinkall’s first season, and a year later was promoted from quarterbacks/wide receivers coach to offensive coordinator.

In February of 2016 Hendrickson was named offensive coordinator at NCAA Division III’s Coe College in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. After two seasons there he was hired at Division II Northern State, where he spent one season as offensive coordinator at the school in Aberdeen, S.D.

After leaving Kansas Wesleyan, Hendrickson not only stayed in touch with Drinkall, but maintains a close friendship with the man who led the Coyotes for the past five seasons.

“Having known coach Drinkall for a very long time, we had a great relationship before coming here and really only strengthened when we got here and are best friends now,” Hendrickson said. “Going back, I’ve got some experiences before Kansas Wesleyan and after Kansas Wesleyan, but truly I look back on some of the best experiences of my personal and professional life were here at Kansas Wesleyan.

“Ultimately when you are going to be a head coach and lead a program you’ve got to have outstanding passion for the entire university and the campus community and the city, and that’s what I have for Kansas Wesleyan University and Salina. It’s really a special place with my wife being from here and the relationships we’ve built here and just looking to continue to carry on the great traditions and history of Coyote football while also adding excitement to future years.”

During his introduction of the school’s new coach, Hermann noted Hendrickson was the first to submit an application after Drinkall’s resignation earlier this month and he was the first applicant to be interviewed by the university.

“As I spoke with coaches at his previous stops, each one sung his praises and was sad to see him move on,” Herman said. “Of course, I knew what an outstanding job he did when he was on campus as a member of coach Drinkall’s original staff.

“More importantly, I learned how good of a person he is. His character, faith, intelligence, leadership and coaching ability were all visible while he was an assistant.”

With his background as an offensive coordinator, Hendrickson said his plan is to call the plays on offense next season and admits there are similarities between his own schemes and those Drinkall used in his five seasons here.

He also said he hopes many of the current assistant coaches will agree to stay with the program, another factor that would help with the transition.

“As an offensive coach I will be able to step in schematically and we will look very similar on offense,” Hendrickson said. “Each coach has their own wrinkles and you’ll see some things that I will do that coach Drinkall did not. We are different people but on the football field we’re pretty similar.

“We will keep as much continuity as possible on the staff. Almost everybody on the staff I’ve got a great relationship with already. They were either here as a coach or they played for us while I was here or I’ve gotten to know them very closely since leaving.”

Hendrickson is married to the former Hannah Martin, a Salina South graduate, and they have already found a home in Salina. Hendrickson had his first opportunity to meet with his team Monday morning before the introductory press conference, but will spend considerable time in the coming weeks getting to know his players even better.

“Step one is get out and reconnect with the campus community and meet every single player individually,” Hendrickson said. “Ultimately I want to know where every single player is academically and where they are at personally and socially.

“We are going to sit down and have an individual meeting and probably won’t talk about any football. We’ll talk about academic goals, personal goals, maybe some team goals but ultimately I want to know every single player on this roster. I’m all about building relationships with my student athletes. That is step one.”