MAPLEWOOD, Minn. (WCCO) — He was a marquee quarterback for Wisconsin in his college days, and since then Brooks Bollinger played in the NFL, including a stint with the Minnesota Vikings.
He’s now settled into a new football job. He’s the head coach at Hill-Murray High School and in his first season he’s got his team in unchartered territory: The state playoffs.
Bollinger enjoyed quite a career as a college quarterback. He led Wisconsin to the Rose Bowl. After that, he spent time with the Vikings, and it was a bit of a homecoming as his wife is from St. Paul.
This fall, football came in a different form as he took over as the head coach of the Hill-Murray Pioneers, who are playing in the state tournament Friday night.
“It’s been unbelievable, and like I said way back then it’s just been a learning experience for me,” Bollinger said. “I’ve been around this game my whole life and I love it. I love being around the kids.”
Like the player he was, he enjoys the preparation it takes to win, the study time.
“Just being able to play the chess match a little bit and see what they do on defense, trying to decide how were going to attack them,” Bollinger said.
But is it like heaven to him being in control in the video room as well as leading a team onto the field for a potential victory?
“It’s fun and it’s enjoyable. The greatest pressure in high school is finding a way to put your kids in a position to be successful,” he said.
He loves to see his team succeed and to understand what this season has been about: Winning and doing it frequently.
“What winning and having success does is it shows every one of these kids the lessons and things we preach are true,” Bollinger said.
He surprised many people’s expectations this year, but Bollinger said he didn’t know what fair expectations would be coming into the season.
“I didn’t have time to figure out what I really expected for them,” Bollinger said. “It’s just been one week at a time and that’s the honest truth. For me on Friday night when we won that football game, just to see the excitement of the kids.”
Now that he is a resident of Minnesota, there is a fair question to be asked.
“Now that you’ve lived in Minnesota long enough are you prepared to pick the Gophers over the Badgers?”
“Not so fast my friend,” Bollinger said with a chuckle.
Hill-Muirray faces Faribault in the Class 4A State Tournament Friday night at East Ridge High School. The winner advances to the state semifinals at the Metrodome.