Washington University in St. Louis’ head football coach Larry Kindbom continues to carry the Bears to new heights. Since assuming the head coaching reins in 1989, Kindbom has overhauled the Bears’ gridiron program and has guided Washington University to the upper echelon of NCAA Division III football.
Kindbom announced on Sept. 11, 2019 that he will be retiring at the end of the 2019 season.
After winning a total of 20 games in the 1980s before Kindbom took over, the Bears have since gone 185-116 (.615) with 12 University Athletic Association (UAA) championships and one Southern Athletic Association (SAA) title. He has guided the Bears to NCAA Division III playoff appearances in 1999, 2013 and 2016, and is one of only 89 coaches, regardless of division, to surpass 200 wins.
Kindbom ranks fifth in NCAA Division III in winningest active coaches, 21st in Division III history and 66th all-time with 213 career victories.
1. Rick Giancola, Montclair St. - 247
2. Pete Fredenburg, Mary Hardin-Baylor - 225
3. Steve Johnson, Bethel - 218
4. Rich Lackner, Carnegie Mellon - 216
5. Larry Kindbom, WashU - 213
6. Joe Fincham, Wittenberg - 210
7. Norm Eash, Illinois Wesleyan - 208
8. Mike Maynard, Redlands - 197
Mike Swider, Wheaton - 197
10. Brien Cullen, Worcester St. - 181
Kindbom led the Bears to an 8-2 overall record in the program's first season as an associate member in the College Conference of Illinois and Wisconsin (CCIW) in 2018. The Bears finished in third place in the CCIW with a 7-2 mark. WashU upset then No. 12-ranked Wheaton College (Ill.) 17-10 on Oct. 13 for its first victory over a ranked opponent since 2010.
The Bears finished third in the CCIW in scoring defense (22.6 ppg), third in pass offense (322.8 ypg) and first in turnover margin (+8). WashU set the CCIW single-season record for passing completions in a season (273).
For his efforts Kindbom was named the CCIW Bob Reade Coach of the Year, D3football.com North Region Coach of the Year and AFCA Region 4 Coach of the Year. He was also selected as the 2018 Allstate Insurance Company and the American Football Coaches Association (AFCA) Good Works Team Honorary Coach.
Senior Hank Michalski earned second-team AFCA All-America honors in 2018, and was also a second-team Google Cloud Academic All-American selection along with Jake Coon.
In 2016 the Bears posted an 8-3 record and made its third NCAA playoff appearance in school history. The eight wins are the second most in school history. The Bears were also co-champions in the SAA and UAA, and secured its 22nd winning season under Kindbom.
Kindbom also mentored a pair of All-Americans in 2016 - Matt Page (second team, tight end) and Kevin Hammarlund (honorable-mention, wide receiver).
In 2015, senior kicker Alex Hallwachs capped an outstanding career earning D3football.com Third-Team All-America and CoSIDA First-Team Academic All-America honors. In addition, Kindbom mentored Quincy Marting to honorable-mention D3football.com All-America accolades.
In 2013, Kindbom led WashU to an 8-3 overall record and an appearance in the NCAA Division III Playoffs for the first time since 1999 and second time in school history. The Bears also won their 10th UAA Championship with a 3-0 record and ended the season with seven straight wins, their first regular-season seven-game win streak since 1948.
WashU capped off the most successful decade in team history with one of the most successful seasons in history in 1999. The Bears won their first outright UAA title, posted an 8-3 record and earned the school’s first bid to the NCAA Division III playoffs.
In 1995, the Bears savored their most successful campaign since 1948, finishing the season with a 9-1 record. WashU captured a share of the UAA title in 1994, 1995 and 1996 to go along with the 1999, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2012 and 2013 outright crowns.
With 7-3 records in 1990, 1994, 1996, 2007 and 2010, an 8-3 season in 1999 and 2013, an 8-2 mark in 2001 and 2018 and his 9-1 mark from 1995, Kindbom is the only coach in school history to have guided 10 different WashU teams to seven or more victories.
As a collegiate athlete, Kindbom lettered four years at Kalamazoo College, a Division III school in Michigan. Then, after serving as an assistant coach at three NCAA Division I institutions, he guided Division III Kenyon College for six successful seasons before moving to Washington University in 1989.
Prior to his six-year stint at Kenyon, the Lancaster, Pa., native served two years as a graduate assistant at Ohio State under Woody Hayes and four years as an assistant coach at the University of Akron. After Akron, Kindbom was handed the coaching reins at Kenyon in 1983, where his first team enjoyed a 5-3-1 record. The following year, Kenyon savored its finest season since 1976, equaling a school record for victories with a 7-3 mark. Kenyon also was nationally ranked in 1984, and rated fifth in the nation for its passing offense.
Besides his resurrection of football at Washington University, Kindbom has played a valuable leadership role in St. Louis, helping found the area’s National Football Foundation/College Hall of Fame chapter in 1992. At the organization’s annual banquet in 1994, Kindbom received the Eddie Cochems Award, an inaugural honor given for his contributions to amateur football in the St. Louis area.
He was presented the 2009 Grant Teaff “Breaking the Silence” Award at the 2010 American Football Coaches Association (AFCA) Convention in Orlando, because of his hard work and dedication to the prevention of youth suicide.
Kindbom is on the Board of Advisors for the Fellowship of Christian Athletes (FCA), and has been a speaker for the nationally based Character Plus Program. He serves his profession at the national level as Chairman of the Division 3 Football Coaches Council, and has started a Head Coaches Summit, which is an annual meeting for regional high school coaches to share ideas in meeting the challenges of coaching in today’s world.
Kindbom, a former member of the NCAA’s Division III championship selection committee, earned his bachelor of arts degree from Kalamazoo in 1974 with a major in political science and a minor in physical education. He earned a master’s degree in physical education from Western Michigan in 1976, and is a doctoral candidate in physical education (athletic administration) from Ohio State.
Kindbom and his wife Kate have one child: Kelsey McAfee. Kindbom also has two sons, Kevin and Kyle, and six grandchildren. He is also an elder at his church.
Updated Nov. 17, 2019