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A 75-Year-Old Coach Still Setting Aside Retirement to Make a Difference


A year ago I wrote about Elliot Uzelac who had coached college football for 40 years with stops at Michigan, Ohio State, Colorado and Maryland. At age 74, he set aside retirement to become head football coach at Benton Harbor High School in Michigan—a crippled program that that had endured 25 straight losing seasons and had lost its last 19 games in a row. Under Coach Uzelac’s leadership, the team posted a 6-3 regular season record and won its first state playoff game ever. In 2016 at age 75, Coach Uzelac is still there making a difference and his team went undefeated with a regular season record or 9-0 and is once again headed for the state playoffs. This is Benton Harbor High’s first undefeated season since 1962. As one of the players said after the game per the Herald Palladium, “This is wonderful. I never thought we’d be 9-0. I never thought we’d be undefeated in my lifeā€¦.” Coach Uzelac set aside his retirement and became, in the eyes of his players, members of the community and the students of Benton Harbor High, a miracle worker. A pretty good tradeoff when you think about it.

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One Sentence Wisdom 

  • “It is better to have a meaningful life and make a difference than to merely have a long life.” -- Bryant H. McGill
  • “Each one of us can make a difference. Together we make change.” -- Barbara Mikulski

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