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Long-time dream becomes reality for Grimmius

WORTHINGTON -- Brad Grimmius' career-shaping revelation came at a strange time.

He was square dancing.

Grimmius was executing a dosey-doe in his eighth-grade physical education class at Worthington Middle School when he decided he wanted to follow in the footsteps of his teacher and Worthington High School football coach Dennis Hale.

"It was weird," Grimmius laughed. "At the time, Coach Hale was teaching square dancing, and I'm thinking, 'You know, I think being a P.E. teacher would be a lot of fun.' Even back then, when I had him as a teacher in junior high, I really liked him and wanted to be like him. He's second to none, and I really looked to him as a role model."

Grimmius was a two-year starter at both offensive tackle and defensive end for Hale on WHS's football team, leading the Trojans to consecutive conference championships, an undefeated season and a second-place finish in the section tournament. He played two years of football at Minnesota West and another at the University of Sioux Falls before an arm injury cut his career short.

After graduating from college, the dream Grimmius developed while square dancing in Hale's class nearly eight years earlier became reality.

Grimmius landed a job teaching physical education at a middle school in Elk River. He also coached the defensive line and the linebackers at Elk River High School.

After two years in Elk River, he became the defensive coordinator at Spirit Lake High School, and, two years after that, he became the head coach.

Still, Grimmius had one regret.

"Four years ago, I sent Coach Hale an email saying that I really appreciated what he did for me," Grimmius said. "I said, 'The only thing I wish that would have happened was that I got to coach with you.'

"It's kind of weird how things worked out."

Earlier this summer, Grimmius left Spirit Lake and accepted a teaching position at WHS.

"I went to (Hale's) house and was just going to explain my situation, like, 'Hey, I understand you're full of coaches, but I don't need to be paid. I want to coach," Grimmius said. "But, before I got to say anything, he told me about the situation that had arisen and that he wanted me."

Pat Shaughnessy's retirement opened up a paid position for Grimmius, who, after 16 years, finally was reunited with Hale on the sidelines.

"Does it change how I'm coaching? Not at all, because I'd do it for free," Grimmius said. "It helps the family financially, but, when you love football and the sport, you do it for the kids and the athletes who are out there. Making them the best they can be is more rewarding than a paycheck.

"I gave up a head-coach position and pay to come back to Worthington to coach with Coach Hale. That's what it boiled down to, because I really have the upmost respect for that guy."

It goes both ways.

"He was a very good player, and he was a very key player on a really good team that went undefeated during the regular season," Hale said. "It's fun to have guys back who have played for you. They know my demeanor and what I expect. (Grimmius) brings a new fire, a new light, a different personality. It's fun to have that, and we're really glad to get him back."

While Grimmius has brought new drills and ideas to WHS, he's much like his former coach when it comes to his demeanor and coaching style.

"If you watch Coach Hale, he's the same (as me)," Grimmius said. "As a coach, we don't call it 'stealing' -- we call it 'borrowing.' I took some stuff from him, especially the approach of how to handle athletes and how to keep your cool and demeanor."

Grimmius has kept his cool in regard to giving up a head-coaching position.

"The only place I was going to give up being a head coach to go to, in all honesty, was here," he said. "I've been a head coach for six years, and to go anywhere other than the college ranks would have been really tough. I don't think I would have gone anywhere else to be an assistant coach except for here.

"I wanted to get back to Worthington, and it's a bonus that I get to coach with Coach Hale. I think the world of him. He's a technician of football, and I just loved playing for him. Now, to have the honor to coach with him is even better."

Everything seemed to work out the way Grimmius hoped as an eighth-grader so many years ago, in regard to coaching, teaching and dancing.

"The one thing I thought to myself was, when I become a teacher, I'm hoping square dancing is no longer in existence. And it's not," Grimmius laughed. "So, I have no regrets."