Letter from MHSFCA President, Ed Greenman (Harper Creek)
July 28, 2015 11:12 AM
Dear Coaches,       July 28, 2015
In less than two weeks the 2015 football season will be starting, and I’m sure all of you are making your final preparations on what will hopefully be a championship year for you and your school. As President of the MHSFCA I felt compelled to share with you some thoughts that I hope you will benefit from.
On July 14 the football profession lost a giant when Pat Riepma, head coach of Northwood University passed away after a long struggle with cancer. Pat and I go way back as we were graduate assistant coaches in 1984 at Central Michigan. Last week I attended Pat’s funeral to pay respect to a man that truly made a difference in the lives of thousands of people.
Pat was a family man, leaving behind a wife and three sons. He was not only a wonderful husband and father, but a great leader, mentor, educator, coach and friend. As I talked to different people before and after the funeral it was apparent that Pat was universally respected by all that came into contact with him. I heard people describing Pat as a class act, someone that did things the “right” way, a person with a great sense of humor, a coach that believed in his players and got the most out of them, a man that impacted lives and had others best interests at heart, and by caring for others he helped those around him reach their highest potential.
Coach Riepma did all of this and much more for 20 years at Northwood. His mantra for his team was GO MAD- Go Make A Difference. What was most important to Pat was his personal relationship with Jesus Christ. His Christian faith guided him on a daily basis and he was not afraid to express his beliefs. Pat had two bouts with cancer and endured a lot over the past decade but his faith never wavered and he lived his life in a way that all of us can benefit if we take part of his legacy with us into the 2015 season.
As your President, I have asked myself, “What can I do to help the coaches in Michigan?” My question was answered when I attended Pat’s funeral. I can help you by challenging you to take a part of Pat Riepma and incorporate it into your coaching. As coaches we all want to win. We want to beat our rival school, end the season on top of our league, and ultimately win a state championship. Unfortunately, that is not going to happen for everyone. Because of that, I challenge you to be a winner in the same way Pat was a winner.
I believe your role as a football coach is the most important position in your school. You touch people every day as you strive for greatness. It’s not just the kids you have an impact on, it’s their parents, the school, your entire community. You are the face of your school and with that comes a great responsibility. At the end of the day it all boils down to a list of questions: Are you turning boys into men? Are you educating your players on and off the field? Do you bring passion and enthusiasm to our great profession on a daily basis? Do you hold people accountable? Do you lead by example? Do you possess humility and grace in victory and defeat? Are you a father figure to your players?
Pat would say over and over that every day is a gift from God. It is up to all of us to treat it as such. Seems simple but yet it’s hard to put into practice unless you live your life to its fullest.
So as you put the final touches of preparation on the upcoming season, take the time to think about the big picture. Step it up another notch this year when it relates to how you are going to treat your players. Lead them with love, encouragement, and a can-do attitude. GO MAD is not just a slogan, Making A Difference a lifestyle that Pat Riepma exhibited on a daily basis, and you can have the same influence in your community that he had in is his.