The Touchdown Club would like to extend a special welcome to a new “familiar” face. Craig Stern has been announced as the new head football coach – the 13th in the school’s history. Craig’s resume includes the past nine years on staff right here at St. Olaf. He has been an instrumental part of a 63-27 record during that tenure. We are excited about the naming of Stern to this important position and look forward to working with him to ensure our mission with future players.
We would like you to have an opportunity to meet and congratulate Coach Stern in person. Please keep April 10th open on your calendar as the TD Club will be hosting an event in the Twin Cities for alumni to meet and greet. Details on time/location to follow.
Mike Jacobs, President
St. Olaf Touchdown Club
I have to admit, I am a sucker for this stuff.
A new head coach, one already familiar to Ole football families, is named. A team banquet is held. Most Valuable Players are praised. And I cannot stop thinking about the anticipated joys of next season.
Meeting with the other parents, again. Cheering for our boys, again. Singing Um Ya Ya with the incorrect accent (according to my Ole father-in-law, whom I trust and believe completely on this topic), again.
This past season, our first as Ole football parents, seems to have flown by. The next three, I fear, will speed away just as quickly. So, I want to hold these seasons in my arms, squeeze them, savor them. Drain every last drop and smell and taste out of them.
We were used to watching our boy, Seamus, play football. I was his first coach, from his second-grade year all the way until he started high school. Then, for four years, we were there like clockwork at those Friday night high school games, volunteering, raising money, cheering our lungs out.
Imagine our joy when we came to that first Ole game of the season in Decorah, Iowa, and sat with so many like-minded and soon-to-be-hoarse parents, all just as eager to shout their sons to victory, all as happy to stand and cheer. You veteran Ole parents spoiled us a bit with your collegiality and comeraderie. We were welcomed. But the other Ole footballers were just as impressive, shining like lights on the field with their ability... impressing afterwards with their manners and intellect.
I am going to take a pretty safe guess here: I bet most of you have had similar experiences.
It was easy to cheer for the Oles in 2012. It will be even easier this fall, with a good man and an excellent coach taking the reins from another good man and excellent coach. Craig Stern is different from his predecessor, I suspect, mainly in style... but not in substance. His dedication to our team, to this school, to our sons, is obvious and strong. It will be fun to see what Coach Stern accomplishes.
I am confident his players are in good hands. I am excited for the three seasons to come in our son's journey. And I am already circling dates on the calendar and sending texts to my wife, Heidi, about proposed road trips in 2013.
Yep, I am a sucker for this stuff. And I wouldn't have it any other way. Go Oles!
VIA St. OLaf Athletic Website......
February 8, 2013
NORTHFIELD, Minn. - St. Olaf named Craig Stern head football coach on Friday. Stern has been a member of the St. Olaf football staff for the last nine seasons and assistant head coach for the last three.
"We're excited for our football program," said athletic director Matt McDonald. "Craig has been an integral part of our success over the last decade and he is ready to lead."
Stern has coordinated the Oles' defense and coached defensive backs in his time at St. Olaf. With Stern on staff, St. Olaf has compiled a 63-27 mark in nine seasons, each at or above the .500 plateau. St. Olaf had four 8-2 seasons in that stretch and two at 7-3.
Prior to his time at St. Olaf, Stern was at Concordia-St. Paul for five seasons as defensive coordinator. The Golden Bears' defense was ranked fourth nationally when they captured a NSIC title in 2003. He also spent three seasons on the offensive side of the ball, as coordinator at Dana College from 1997-99.
Stern is the 13th head coach in school history.
I have been reading the touching tributes to former Ole football coach Tom Porter here. Personally, I did not know him. I played for St. Thomas teams that played against his, but, except for the handshake line after our games, I never had a chance to meet him in person.
But the many poignant and moving tributes to Coach Porter -- and the current vacancy in the head coaching job here -- got me thinking about those attributes that we, as players, parents and alumni, yearn for in a coach. The head football coach is, at its most basic, a leader to our young men for the time they play football. But, because football draws upon so many important facets of our sons' emerging character, the head coach -- ideally -- is much more than a leader.
He is a shaper. A mentor. A surrogate parent. An example. A guide. A disciplinarian. An advocate. A role model. At his best, the head coach transcends the cliches and becomes for our sons the culmination of what we hope they will become. Competitive, yet even-keeled. Demanding, but fair. Flexible, yet principled. Hard-working, yet fun.
The best, such as Coach Porter, are remembered by their former players for their lifetime. Not just for exciting wins, famous goal line stands or scintillating touchdowns. Those things become secondary memories, the "and, remember when?..." part of alumni gatherings. No, the best coaches are remembered for that pat on the back when things seemed low, the kind word when life seemed too tough, the toughness when the fight seemed impossible, the raised voice when teenaged stupidity threatened to spill over. They live in our memories -- if we were so blessed to have that coach -- as that person who sometimes seemed larger than life, yet was connected enough to guide us through those sometimes difficult years of figuring it all out. And figuring out where we fit into all of it.
For most of us, that time with the coach is only a handful of years. But the power of a coach on the shared experiences of hundreds of teammates can be impressive, transformative, transcendent. Unforgettable.
Let's hope that the next head coach at St. Olaf is able to forge those same kinds of positive memories, shared bonds and lasting experiences for the boys who return in the fall.