Dykeman Continuing Football Journey In XFL

Dykeman Continuing Football Journey In XFL

Last Sunday, 113 million people watched the Kansas City Chiefs and Philadelphia Eagles play in Super Bowl LVII. The game ended the NFL season in Glendale, Arizona, but for Cheshire’s David Dykeman, the professional football year is just getting started.

As Vice President for Football Operations with the XFL, Dykeman is excited to see his league kick off with two games on Saturday and Sunday.

“We are the spring football league,” said Dykeman. “After the Super Bowl ends, we are right into our 10-game regular season and two weeks of playoffs.”

Dykeman spent 10 seasons as the head football coach at Cheshire Academy, but at the close of 2021, XFL President Russ Brandon reached out to him about joining the league as Director of Football Special Projects.

Brandon’s son, Jack, played quarterback under Dykeman at CA.

“This was a great opportunity to work in professional football,” reflected Dykeman. “The vast majority of our staff is NFL people.”

Since starting his new position in January 2022, he has worked with the team’s directors to oversee all aspects of football operations. Dykeman attends free agent workouts and summer showcases.

He also handles player and personnel aspects, including player evaluation, roster development, and recruitment.

“I’m ecstatic about where we are at right now,” said Dykeman. “Our ownership group is exceptional, with Dany Garcia, Dwayne Johnson, and RedBird Capital. They are committed to making this as incredible as it can be.”

The XFL has been through a series of reformations since being founded by World Wrestling Entertainment’s Vince McMahon. The league kicked off in 2001, but ran just one season.

The XFL was brought back in 2020, however due to the pandemic, the league was shut down again.

On Aug. 3, 2020, a consortium group of Garcia, Johnson, and RedBird Capital purchased the organization and began preparing for its eventual return this year.

In the revamped XFL, the St. Louis Battlehawks, Seattle Sea Dragons, Arlington Renegades, San Antonio Brahmas, Houston Roughnecks, D.C. Defenders, Vegas Vipers, and Orlando Guardians are playing this year.

“I think these cities are starving for this (football),” said Dykeman. “I think they are excited about it.”

After the regular season, there will be semifinals for the North and South Divisions on April 29-30. The winners will play for the title on Saturday, May 13, in San Antonio.

“We have a good league that is getting a lot of support,” stated Dykeman.

XFL rosters have a mix of college athletes and former NFL players.

“It is impressive to see the make-up of these teams and what they are putting together,” said Dykeman.

In bringing the XFL back, Dykeman admits that it is important that the league is now partnering with the NFL for features such as health, safety, and officiating.

“So many people want to compete with the NFL and you are not going to do that,” explained Dykeman. “Our hope is that our players go on to play in the NFL.”

Growing up, Dykeman developed a passion for football in Cape Cod. He shined on the field, but as a high school senior, he fractured his C-5 vertebrae playing linebacker.

“It was one of the darkest times of my life,” recalled Dykeman. “I was a three-sport athlete and I couldn’t play again.”

While he wasn’t able to compete on the next level, Dykeman became a student assistant coach at the College of the Holy Cross in Massachusetts.

“My head coach, Dan Allen, took me under his wing. He changed my life,” reflected Dykeman. “I don’t think if I hadn’t gotten injured, I would have gone into coaching. Things happen in life for a reason.”

After graduating with a bachelor’s degree in history and education at Holy Cross, Dykeman went on to earn his master’s degree in education administration at the State University of New York at Albany.

He wanted to extend his coaching career and chose to take positions on the high school, prep school, and college levels.

“It gives you great perspective,” said Dykeman, of coaching in multiple places. “I can see how we can do things with less now.”

From 2008-12, Dykeman worked as the head coach and post-graduate program coordinator at Worcester Academy in Massachusetts. From there, he came to CA to lead the football program and work as the Associate Head of School.

With the Cats, Dykeman led the football team to multiple titles. He had more than 200 players go on to play in college and six athletes compete in the NFL.

“My greatest achievement was watching the young men achieve and play college football,” reflected Dykeman. “I’ve known some of those guys since they were little kids. Building relationships is one of the most fulfilling things you can have.”

A 2017 CA graduate, wide receiver Tarik Black signed with the NFL’s New York Jets and Baltimore Ravens last year. As a 2019 grad, Army outside linebacker Andre Carter II completed a stellar career this year and has garnered interest from the NFL.

“He was a late bloomer in football and didn’t have a lot of tape going into college,” recalled Dykeman. “I got the chance to see Andre play a couple of times this year. He has great character and to see him have the success he has had, is incredible.”

When Dykeman was hired by the XFL, his former assistant Daniel Mehleisen became the CA football head coach. Mehleisen took on his new role last fall.

“Dan is one of my best friends. I think the world of him,” stated Dykeman. “I don’t think people understand how competitive their league is.”

Dykeman believes that the XFL compares favorably to prep school in that teams have players from different areas of the country and world.

“I love the game, man,” said Dykeman. “I think it is the greatest sport and life lesson there is. You surround yourself with people from different backgrounds and ethnicities.”

Dykeman feels that football teaches people to overcome adversity. In the fall of 2020 at CA, he was happy that his team was able to play three games during the pandemic.

“We tested every week and there were no cases of COVID,” recalled Dykeman.

While he is no longer a head coach, Dykeman enjoyed having the opportunity to assist last fall with the Cheshire High School football program. Led by Head Coach Don Drust, CHS (7-5) won their first state playoff game since 2009 and reached the Class L semifinals.

“I just wanted to be helpful. I was so impressed with the staff, especially Don,” reflected Dykeman, whose daughters will both be attending CHS in the fall. “If I can, I would love to keep helping out with the program.”

After assisting with the Rams last year, Dykeman traveled to Arlington, Texas, to work on a mix of XFL duties. Since Jan. 2, he has attended senior all-star games and pro days, along with helping to plan training camps.

“We want to be sure that we are good to go for the season,” added Dykeman.


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