Coach Mike Pursued His Dream on the Football Field with Help from HSS
“I got the job,” Coach Mike said proudly, as his sister stood beside him beaming and a TV camera captured the exchange for tons of viewers at home.
It was a touching moment for all of us here at HSS who have been rooting Mike Kuhlmann on from the sidelines, watching as he pursued his dream and became a local celebrity, all within a couple of months.
Of course, Coach Mike’s growing fan base is no surprise to us. We knew he would be an instant hit once we began telling the story of how he landed his dream position as a football coach.
He has an enthusiasm and dedication to the game that comes across in every play that he calls, and every pat on the back he delivers.
He also has a unique ability to see people for who they are, rather than what they can do — and to see him spreading that message in the community is really something special.
For those of you who have not yet heard his story in the news, let us catch you up to speed.
Kuhlmann, 59, is the honorary assistant coach of the CHS Eagles football team. He got the job after our organization partnered with the school’s athletic department as part of our Building Futures program.
The program helps people with intellectual and developmental disabilities recognize their strengths and abilities, and then pursue their goals and dreams within the community.
Now, in case it isn’t already clear, Kuhlmann LOVES football. Sometimes you just know what you want to do in life and that is certainly the case with him.
Some people are drawn to teaching. Others to mechanics. Kuhlmann has always been blinded by those Friday Night Lights.
In other words, this appears to be his calling.
Kuhlmann got his first taste of coaching in 2009, with the Rampage youth football squad of the Waterloo Sports Association.
Craig Laskowski — our director of quality and training, and also a former Rampage coach — helped connect him with that position.
Laskowski, who is also now a quarterbacks coach for the Eagles, knew Kuhlmann would work well under CHS Eagles Head Coach and Athletic Director Scott Horner.
So he helped connect the two. Then Kuhlmann took it from there, just like he always knew he could and would.
With an official coach’s jacket, Coach Mike has been a constant presence on the field. He offers play advice and also general encouragement and inspiration.
“He’s been passionate about wanting to coach. That passion, that love to be on the football field, has never left him,” Laskowski told the Republic-Times in a September news article.
But the best part of this story? It is not just about Kuhlmann. Everyone involved is benefiting from this partnership, just ask any player or any one of the coaches.
“Having Coach Mike around our program is great for him and great for our players,” Horner told the newspaper. “He provides motivation to our guys, and our guys really appreciate his presence. Mike just loves football and I am humbled to be asked to give him the opportunity to live out a lifelong dream.”
Sometimes he gets choked up talking about it. And so do we. We just love hearing those kinds of comments. Because it speaks to what our mission is here at HSS.
We want to live and work in a community where people of all abilities can lead fulfilling lives and realize their dreams. Because that helps the community as a whole. And that’s exactly what Coach Mike is doing.