Gottfried continues coaching for Team Focus

By Hunter Ford
TWS Reporter

In the spring of 1956 an 11-year-old boy sat on his bathroom floor holding his father’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 father’s life ended.

The boy and his two brothers were separated for a time, because his mother couldn’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.

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Gottfried never forgot the profound effect of his father’s death. “I still miss my dad,” 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.

“It was going to be a one time deal,” Gottfried said. “But we were fortunate enough to have some people who really supported the idea and it kept growing.”

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. It’s a faith-based program.

“When my dad died, the devil wanted to jump into the picture,” Gottfried says. “I was under attack, even though I didn’t know it at the time. But God was there too. He wanted to fill that hole with good things and good people.”

Gottfried has written an autobiography, Coach’s Challenge, Faith, Football and the Father Gap. For more information about Coach Gottfried and Team focus visit or contact the group toll free at 1-877-635-0010.


Add Yours
  1. 1

    I was in college when my father died, but I too, still miss him. Gottfried is right that young boys need mentors. Without appropriate male role models, boys can easily make the wrong choices. But when you have someone there setting a good example, and holding you accountable, then it is easier to stay on the straight and narrow.

    That’s why Chette Williams is important to Auburn—he provides a good role model for at-risk young men in college.

  2. 2
    Sheer Darkness

    That’s exactly why I said what I said in the other blog. Gottfried will forever be known for his kind hearted deeds, and he won’t go unrewarded for it.

  3. 4
    Bama Fan In NYC

    It’s always good to play the role of a father figure for younger kids who’s never had the luxury of a father’s guidance.

    This is why I have such a problem with fathers who abandon their children at a young age, never to see or acknowledge them ever again, while other kids are less fortunate to have had a loving father who passed while they were still young.

    Kids are kids, and I’ll never understand why deadbeat fathers wants to play on the field, but never wants to pay the price when that day comes.

    I would personally like to shake Mike’s hand for his kind generosity.

  4. 5

    Jamie Collins, Alabama Polytechnic Institute’s 398th commitment received just days ago, is a kid who was unfortunate enough to find himself in a similar situation, sadly enough.

    Now, all of that notwithstanding, I know we do make a lot of fun around here with Tuberville and the whole “character” bit, but I will say it’s hard not to pull for this kid, regardless of what colors he is going to wear. Both of his parents died when he was young, and he has been forced to grow up in a very rough neighborhood and live with his sister. Apparently he has had a goal for a long time of making it alive out of his neighborhood, going to college and getting a degree, and then buying his sister a house. He’s a good student in the classroom, and seems to be on his way to doing that.

    All kidding aside, regardless of who we plays for, that’s the kind of kid I’ll be more than happy to root for any day of the week.

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