By Hunter Ford
In the spring of 1956 an 11-year-old boy sat on his bathroom floor holding his fatherâ€™s head in his lap. His father had collapsed from a massive heart attack. The young boy cried and prayed and talked to his father as his fatherâ€™s life ended.
The boy and his two brothers were separated for a time, because his mother couldnâ€™t afford to pay the rent. Eventually, the boy became a star athlete with a college scholarship. Later he became a head football coach, for Murray State, Cincinnati, Kansas and Pittsburgh. The boy was Mike Gottfried, a well-known color commentator for ESPN college football broadcasts.
Gottfried never forgot the profound effect of his fatherâ€™s death. â€œI still miss my dad,â€ he said.
In 2000 he founded a group called Team Focus, a ministry with the mission of mentoring boys ages 10 to 18 who are lacking a father in their lives.
Gottfried had been instrumental in organizing the GMAC Bowl in Mobile. The first Team Focus activity was a week long camp paid for with funds left over from the inaugural bowl game.
â€œIt was going to be a one time deal,â€ Gottfried said. â€œBut we were fortunate enough to have some people who really supported the idea and it kept growing.â€
Now Team Focus holds camps several states and the District of Columbia. Last week Team Focus held a camp at Lawson State Community College in Birmingham.
The leadership camp features a variety of instructional and sports related activities ranging from how to tie a necktie to ironing clothes to respecting women. Itâ€™s a faith-based program.
â€œWhen my dad died, the devil wanted to jump into the picture,â€ Gottfried says. â€œI was under attack, even though I didnâ€™t know it at the time. But God was there too. He wanted to fill that hole with good things and good people.â€
Gottfried has written an autobiography, Coachâ€™s Challenge, Faith, Football and the Father Gap. For more information about Coach Gottfried and Team focus visit teamfocusonline.org or contact the group toll free at 1-877-635-0010.