jerry kill

Jerry Kill Headlines Coaching Clinic

jerry kill
Jerry Kill met with high school football coaches from across the region.

Hundreds of high school football coaches descended on Fargo for the annual North Dakota State coaching clinic Friday. The event was headlined by keynote speaker, former head coach Jerry Kill.

Kill was the former head coach at Southern Illinois University and Northern Illinois University, both in Division I-AA, before most recently coaching at the University of Minnesota. Under Kill, the Gophers would have a 29-29 record, reaching three bowl games in five years.

Kill has been away from coaching since late October, when he resigned due to health reasons. Even in retirement, Kill still has a passion for football, and said he felt honored to be invited to Fargo, even if he doesn’t have the greatest memories of the Fargodome.

“The opening of the Dome was against the (Pittsburgh State) Gorillas, and I was here (as offensive coordinator),” he said. The Bison, unsurprisingly, won that game 35-16 in 1993.

Kill spoke to the coaches at the clinic about core values.

“I’m hoping that coaches just take in a couple of nuggets that help them out,” Kill said.

He would then say that he was fine if coaches did not do everything, he said. “I tell them don’t take it all back, keep doing what you do.”

Those nuggets of information mainly had to do with fundamentals. Kill said while some teams have started teaching more, fundamentals are still the most important.

“We are all into drawing circles up (on the blackboard), but you can have the best circles in the world, you better have some players who have good fundamentals and technique,” he added.

Other than that, Kill wanted to talk about a balanced life, both on and off the field

Since his retirement, Kill has seen the game from a different light. The step back has allowed him to step back from the chaos that comes with coaching.

”I have not been home for Christmas in 30 years, with playoffs, bowl games, job change,” Kill said.

He still misses the game though, and said he is still in contact with the coaches at Minnesota.

“If I went back through the years, the best level to coach at is I-AA,” Kill said about his past. “The kids that you have, they have a chip on their shoulder. They are not entitled.”

He also joked how he was happy to take in the players who didn’t make it to Division I. “I wouldn’t want to join the Big Ten, and the Big 12 didn’t want them either, so I guess that they have to say with me,” he said.

Kill also elaborated on a bigger issue: the role of the coach for a player.

“Well, in this day in age, sometimes they are the father. I got a bunch of kids who had foster homes, broken homes. They are a teacher, their teaching life lesson,” Kill said.

The bond between coach and player is the key for success. While everyone plays for the moment, that bond is the thing that last forever.

“If you ask a guy who’s played, ‘Who is your most inspirational guy?’ Ninety percent will say the coach,” he said.

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