MN Nice: 'Coach Grandpa' stands out at football camp

- Sports are often considered a good training ground for life.

That's certainly the approach for former Viking Chad Greenway and Chad Harlander, who organize a football camp.

There's one volunteer coach who heads out there every summer to help run the show and make a difference.

His name is Ray Pederson. But at camp, he’s Coach Grandpa.

“The kids were calling me that and then Chad Greenway picked up on it,” said Pederson.

To know Pederson, you have to go back to 2008 in Cottonwood, Minnesota to one of the worst things to ever happen in that town.

“A van came through the intersection, hit the bus, tipped the bus over and four children did not survive,” said Pederson. “Two of the boys we lost were on my football team.”

The crash established a real sense of community in Cottonwood - teamwork in a lot of ways.

“It's something you will never forget, but at the same time it brought our community together,” he said.

A surviving brother of one of those victims and his parents invited Ray - Coach Grandpa - to come to the football camp.

Coach Grandpa has been helping at the camp and bringing kids from Cottonwood ever since.

“Basically it's to teach kids about football, teaching them about teamwork and coming together,” he said.

The coming together part is what the Greenway and Pederson are all about.  This year's theme at camp was “attitude.” And Coach Grandpa would also add the word: gratitude.

“I think they leave knowing they are part of a bigger team,” he said.
 

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