Twisters Coach Passes Away
(North Little Rock, AR) - Arkansas Twisters defensive coordinator Art Haege (Hay-ge) has passed away due to complications from an aneurysm. He was 69.
The funeral is scheduled for 2:30pm Wednesday, March 6th at Hamilton Funeral Home in Des Moines, IA.
"This is the most devastating situation the Arkansas Twisters staff and team have ever had to cope with. Those that knew Art know how entertaining he was to be around. I consider myself lucky to have known him for the brief two years we worked together. I will thoroughly miss his humor and stories. On the field his expertise goes without saying. He converted the Twisters into one of the most feared defenses in the league and I know the players learned so much from him. He made a difference in the players' lives. The Twisters will honor him this season both on and off the field. We have lost a true great ambassador to football and friend to the Arkansas Twisters af2 team," said Twisters President Jack Lankford.
Haege had been the defensive coordinator for the Twisters since accepting the position mid-way through the 2005 season. His defense help lead the Twisters back to the playoffs in '06 by tying the team record for sacks in a season with 51. The sack total was also second most in league history. The Twisters had the fourth ranked overall defense in the af2 and the team advanced to the National Conference Finals for the second time in four years.
"Art and I had a long fun relationship during which time we won a lot of ballgames. He was a great football coach and will be missed," said Twisters Head Coach John Gregory.
The former AFL head coach had a reputation for helping turnaround struggling football programs and was a perfect fit for defensive coordinator position for the Arkansas Twisters after taking the reigns of the defense four games into the '05 season. The Twisters went from giving up an average of over 60 points a game into a defense that gave up just over 40 points per game.
Haege coached on every level of football throughout five decades, from the smallest little leagues with young children to giants on the gridiron in professional football in the NFL, CFL, and AFL.
After growing up in Peoria, Illinois, Haege went to college at St. Ambrose in Davenport, Iowa, where he earned All-American honorable mention as a tight-end and defensive end. He was named Ambrose athlete of the year in '59 and inducted into their Hall of Fame in '93. Haege played one year in the CFL before a serious shoulder injury cut his playing career short. Coaching is in the Haege family, with Art's son Frank having been an assistant and head coach on the AFL and af2 levels. The younger Haege has the highest winning percentage of any coach in af2, losing just once during a two year span while winning a pair of ArenaCup titles with Quad City.
"I've worked with Coach Haege since 1994 when we started the Iowa Barnstormers (AFL). He is a unique individual and a joy to be around," says Twisters General Manager Dick McDonald. "He will be sorely missed on the football field, by all those who knew him, especially his family."
Haege is survived by his four sons, Frank, Danny, Matt, and Michael.
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