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ST: Former NFL star Lohmiller finds satisfaction in coaching


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Former NFL star Lohmiller finds satisfaction in coaching


Minneapolis-St. Paul Star Tribune


CROSSLAKE, Minn. -- Chip Lohmiller doesn't need the responsibility or the hectic schedule that comes with the territory of coaching high school football. And let's be honest: No prep coach _ especially not a former NFL player _ is in it for the money.

The question, then, is a simple one: What exactly prompted Lohmiller to become the coach at Pequot Lakes? The answer is one coaches know well: The urge, and the game, is in his blood.

"I've always known it would be something I would want to try," Lohmiller said. "I really enjoy the high school kids."

Lohmiller, a former Minnesota all-state kicker and a standout with the Gophers, went on to a nine-year pro career, seven with the Washington Redskins. He lives in Crosslake _ about 20 miles north of Brainerd _ and is his second year as Pequot Lakes head coach.

He didn't expect coaching to be easy, and he's finding out he was right.

Pequot Lakes, which has never qualified for the state tournament, was 3-6 last year and is 2-6 this season after losing its final game of the regular season last week. With a grade 10-12 enrollment of 355, it is among the smallest Class 3A schools in the state, meaning the Patriots often face opponents bigger and faster than them. To make matters worse, starting running back Mike Soukup broke two bones in his left leg Oct. 7 in a 28-20 loss to East Grand Forks. The referees, Lohmiller reports, were also not in his corner for that game.

But unlike Dick Butkus _ a Pro Football Hall of Famer who quit on the Pennsylvania high school team he was coaching after he had fulfilled his contractual obligation for ESPN's reality show "Bound for Glory" _ Lohmiller says he wants to stick around for a while.

Lohmiller, 39, has worked to revamp the area youth football program. He helped get $60,000 in new equipment for the weight room. Now the task is persuading players that sweating indoors in the summer is a better option than what the multitude of area lakes have to offer.

Being a former NFL player helps in that regard.

"I think we trust him more and know that he knows what he's talking about because of his experience," said quarterback Kris Durham, a senior captain. "It's nice to see, too, that he's someone that doesn't have to coach, but he's doing it for the kids."

Throughout his playing career, Lohmiller took great pains to establish that he was not like other kickers. At 6-4 and 220 pounds, Lohmiller routinely worked his way into offensive or defensive drills with Washington, saving the kicking for after practice.

As such, Lohmiller did not bring a specialist's mindset into coaching. While he does work with the kickers _ a sophomore is showing potential, Lohmiller said _ he also tries to establish a tough mindset and works extensively with the offense. In that vein, he has borrowed from high school clinics as well as NFL minds such as Joe Gibbs and Mark Rypien.

"I think with the stories I can tell, they listen," Lohmiller said. "I've learned from so many different coaches, and I don't really yell much _ unless they're not listening."

Aside from coaching, Lohmiller does some fishing, works as a volunteer fireman, runs a property management company and maintains his status as a scratch golfer on the area's top-notch courses.

Life sounds pretty good _ his only grousing comes at how populated the area has become.

He would rather have it quiet, with the simple pleasures in life and coaching being more than enough to sustain him.

"When the kids see something work well, and they apply something you're trying to teach, it's fun to watch," Lohmiller said.


High school: All-Minnesota kicker at Woodbury High School.

College: Second all-time in Gophers history to Dan Nystrom with 57 field goals and 268 career points. ... Made a 30-yard field goal to defeat Michigan in 1986, the last time Minnesota defeated the Wolverines before this season.

Pro: Made 71.8 percent of his field goals in a nine-year career (1988-96), the first seven with the Redskins; he also played for the Saints and Rams. ... Led the NFL in scoring in the 1991 regular season (149 points). The season culminated with the Redskins winning the Super Bowl at the Metrodome.

Now: Lives in Crosslake, near Brainerd, and is in his second season as the head football coach at Pequot Lakes High; also is a volunteer fireman and has a property management company in the area.

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Good to see he's doing well. Always thought Lohmiller was money. I remember a '91 game where he made two 50 yarders.


I was at that game. He made two other long ones too. When the game ended, he was 4-4 with all field goals being longer than 45 yards. Best performance I ever saw from a pro kicker.

Did I mention that was the game where we beat the friggin' Cowpies in Dallas. Scheewt!

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