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Holmgren enjoys time in Calaveras County, talks football

Former Calaveras head football coach and Calaveras County Superintendent of Schools Bob Bach, 74, invited Super Bowl winning head coach Mike Holmgren to share his life experiences at a men’s breakfast sponsored by Grace Hills Covenant Church on Saturday at Bret Harte High School’s multi-purpose room in Angels Camp. Holmgren spoke with Union Democrat sports reporter Vongni Yang after the breakfast about life and football.

UD: Did you enjoy your time here in Angels Camp and Calaveras County?

MH: It’s been great. First of all, it’s a beautiful place and it was good to see Bob and Marlene (Bach). We’ve known them forever. The turnout today and being able to talk to these fellas that have lived here, a lot of them their whole lives, was great. It’s a privilege.

UD: How’s life out of football?

MH: I’m busy. I’m doing a radio show up in Seattle. I have the freedom to do a lot of things. We’re more involved in our church. We’re involved with a group called Medical Teams International. We get to spend a lot of time with our grandkids. It’s good.

UD: Legendary NFL coach Chuck Noll passed away on Friday, what are your memories of the former Pittsburgh Steelers head coach?

MH: He was one of the guys when I came into the league that was a legend. He won all those Super Bowls, and I liked the way he did it. He did it with a sense of quiet dignity it seemed to me. 

UD: Do you miss coaching?

MH: I do. I like the players. I like teaching. I like the chess matches of the football games, and the relationships with my coaches and players. That’s the biggest thing.

UD: What’s the most satisfying aspect about coaching?

MH: It’s being able to teach someone to do something, and have them execute it very well on the field. That means you’re communicating, you’re getting your point across. And lastly, just hoping not only in football, but in life, hopefully I was a positive influence on my players.

UD: Do you think the NFL game has evolved over the past decade or so?

MH: The game’s still the game, but I think they have made a strong approach towards safety. Being more safe for the players, which is good. But they haven’t changed too many rules. I hope they don’t change too many more.

UD: For aspiring coaches who may want to get into the profession, what kind of advice would you have for them?

MH: I say it’s a great profession. The greatest thing you can do is teach young people, not only play football, but also how to conduct themselves. I think it’s an admirable way to go.

UD: What was your most memorable moment as a coach?

MH: Probably winning my first high school game. We lost a lot of games in a row. We were at a small school and lost a lot of games. That, and of course, winning the Super Bowl with Green Bay.

UD: How much does football relate to life?

MH: I always thought football was a really good way to teach people how life is going to be. It’s one of the few games where you get knocked down and then you have a choice to make: To get up, keeping going or do you go home? That’s like what happens in life. After when you’re not playing a game, when you have to be able to be tough and persevere, and work through things because not everything is going to be rosy.

UD: How do you feel of Seattle’s chances of maybe defending that Super Bowl title?

MH: I think they have a great and fine football team, but you have to be lucky with injuries and a lot of things have to fall your way to get to the Super Bowl. It’s hard to repeat, but I think they have a talented football team.

UD: Is there any chance that you will be coaching in the future?

MH: I probably won’t, but never say never.

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