Winning coach: God has a plan for us
A strong commitment to his faith has been helpful in coaching young people, says Chad Gimbel, head coach of the Class 1A championship football team, the Blooming Prairie Blossoms.
Coach Gimbel on Wednesday, Dec. 11 took time from his busy schedule as a coach and as a teacher to visit with confirmation students at First Lutheran Church.
The Rev. Heidi Heimgartner, senior pastor at First Lutheran Church, moderated a question and answer session with the coach of the Blossom football team.
Gimbel has been head football coach of the Blossoms for the past 23 years. The football championship his players earned was the first ever by a Blooming Prairie football squad.
Gimbel said he is "always learning" as a coach and learned how important his faith was when his son, Seth Peterson, broke a leg while playing football for his father. "I felt like something was taken away," Gimbel said.
"Seth told me God had a plan for him and for me," Gimbel said, fighting back emotions. Gimbel said Seth told him that God's plan was to help the team by mentoring his successor Kaiden Thomas. "He indeed had a good perspective on this unforeseen development," explained Gimbel.
Coach Gimbel said his faith began to grow by his involvement in a youth group at his home church in Browerville, Minn.
Challenging the confirmands to "build a unique you," Gimbel said he had other words of wisdom, too:
• Put down the phone and learn how to read body language.
• Pick out someone you don't want to disappoint.
Gimbel also quoted three processes to follow, suggestions offered by college basketball coach Jimmy Valvano when he was fighting cancer. Those processes are: 1) Laugh; 2) Think or meditate and 3) Take time to cry.
"Why are you so awesome?" a confirmand asked Gimbel. "It's because of good players and great assistants," Gimbel replied. "I still can't believe that we finally made it as state champions," he added.
Talking more about his faith, Gimbel said he gives the team a motivational talk before a game and then had the players hold hands and pray The Lord's Prayer.
Gimbel said he played on the Browerville football team but was not a good football player. "I was too small and too slow," he grinned. Wrestling was his favorite sport. Gimbel also coaches wrestling for the Westfield team, consisting of Hayfield and Blooming Prairie athletes.
Gimbel said he grew up on a small hobby farm and rode Western Pleasure horses. "That was not my favorite thing but my sister loved horses and convinced me to ride, too," Gimbel said. "We had cows, pigs and sheep on our farm," he remarked.
Asked who his role model was as he grew up, Gimbel said it was his 73-year-old father. "He's unselfish and cares about kids first," Gimbel said.
Coach Gimbel also pointed to his high school football coach, Jerry Grand, as a mentor. "We only had 28 kids on our team and I played in the line as a 128-pounder," he laughed.
Discipline was an important ingredient in his mentor's coaching philosophy, Gimbel said. He further explained that he believes in discipline and encourages players to play to their ability. "Play the game the right way," he challenges his athletes.
Gimbel said his players know when he is upset with a development in a game "because I don't say anything and the athletes know they are in trouble."
The x's and o's of football are important to Gimbel who says he prefers running the offense and letting his assistants run the defense. "They (assistant coaches) made me look good," he says.
He says his passion is coaching kids. "You can never prepare for that, and I am still learning how to motivate kids," Gimbel says.
"You can't treat everyone the same," Gimbel emphasizes. "You have to look at each kid individually.”