SIOUX CITY – The Sioux City Bandits didn’t have to look very far to find their new defensive coordinator.
Bandits veteran linebacker Marlon Lobban has retired from playing and will assume the top defensive coaching responsibilities this season, which begins March 18.
It is a move Lobban is willing to make because of the comfort level he feels with the organization and former defensive coordinator John Zevenbergen who will remain on the coaching staff and focus on the defensive backfield.
“I didn’t know if I was ready for the whole lump sum of things, but with Z still being on board and having the support I have … by early winter I knew it would be official,” Lobban said. “I couldn’t pass up the opportunity of a lifetime to coach fresh off of playing.
“We have had a chain message (offensive coordinator Jarrod DeGeorgia), (head coach) Erv (Strohbeen) and Z and I for approximately three years and in the past year-and-a-half included (managing partner) Bob (Scott). So we have been talking and recruiting players before I was officially defensive coordinator so I knew I would be part of the Bandits in some capacity but I had no clue it would be this.”
The Bandits Defensive Player of the Year in 2016, who played linebacker for the team for six seasons, including last year, came to the decision to coach only after deciding the itch to play had passed.
Zevenbergen has deep roots with the Bandits beginning as the defensive coordinator in 2011. That came only after a playing career with Sioux City as a free safety from 2006-08 after attending Morningside College. His playing days with the Bandits overlapped with Strohbeen.
“I had some things change at work and I have a different position now and I have four kids and everyone is getting busier with sports and that kind of stuff,” Zevenbergen said. “I couldn’t give 100 percent to everything so I had to step back.
“I still want to be around, I still be involved so I will be at as many practices as I can, I will be at games up in the box helping Marlon and Erv and those guys.”
“His schemes he runs, the way he coaches the players, he is a real level-headed guy and he just prepares them,” said Strohbeen of Zevenbergen. “I think he has taught Lobban that over the last six years. He has learned a lot from Z and I think he will take that into the defensive coordinator role.
“Both of those guys teach well, they love the game of football and they are going to work well on that side.”
Zevenbergen has passed the keys of the defense to his former linebacker.
“He is always prepared, he always works hard and he is passionate,” Zevenbergen said. “He cares about the team and I think he will bring all those things as a coach.”
“He has put me in the driver’s seat and he has told me ‘decisions are yours and I am just here to be your support system,’” Lobban said.
The Bandits, who just began training camp last week, are set to play a preseason game against the Sioux City Stampede Saturday at the Tyson Events Center. Lobban said he is still adjusting to some of the coaching role.
“I called a play for the guys and I called it in the huddle,” Lobban said. “One of linebackers said ‘hey, coach you are not playing back up.’ I knew he was right so I had to step away about 15 yards and call the play from that distance. I still have those player instincts.”
Much like during his playing days, Strohbeen believes Lobban will pour himself into the new job and be determined to give Bandits fans the highest quality product on the field.
“He loves the Sioux City community and he will do anything for the community and for this football team,” Strohbeen said. “He is just one of those guys that invests everything about him into the culture, and over the last few years he was my best recruiter.”