Patience pays off: Austin head football coach spent 13 years as an assistant

Published 8:41 pm Wednesday, April 24, 2019

Ed Schmitt learned early on in life that sometimes you have to take your lumps before you get to the top. That lesson came back again for Schmitt as an adult as he has now been named Austin head football coach after he worked as an assistant coach for 13 seasons.

Schmitt grew up as the youngest child in a seven sibling household in Bad Axe, Michigan and he was much younger than his older siblings. That didn’t stop him from trying to keep up.

Schmitt, who graduated from high school in 1990, was always trying to keep up with his three brothers and three sisters and he also thrived on watching the Michigan Wolverines play football on Saturdays.

Email newsletter signup

“We played a lot of basketball with the lamp shades and we had a long coffee table and that was our football field,” Schmitt said of his childhood. “ I was dumb enough to think I had an advantage when my brothers went down on their knees and I would try to run through them. I wasn’t the brightest kid, probably, and I got beat on quite a bit. I looked up to my brother who was closest in my age, and I watched him play sports when I was in elementary school. I really wanted to be like him.”

Schmitt played basketball, football and baseball in high school for the Bad Axe Hatchets and he earned a red-shirt spot on the baseball team at Division II Saginaw Valley State after graduating. However, with his family only having one car, Schmitt wasn’t able to seize that opportunity.

While he still loves baseball, Schmitt has been focused on football over the last 13 years. He’s worked under former Austin coaches Tim Hermann, Matt Schmit and Brett Vesel and he has learned a lot from the sidelines as he’s coached just about every position.

Schmitt is planning on making big changes to the offense and defense this fall, but mostly he wants to create a program that has a positive environment for everyone involved.

“We want to have a great culture of respecting each other,” Schmitt said. “It would be nice to not have locks on the lockers in here and trust that nothing is going to go missing. We want to communicate appropriately and invest in what we’re doing. We want kids invested into creating a great program for themselves.”

Schmitt plans on being flexible with players in the summer while respecting the other commitments they have with other sports. He wants to stay dialed in with the youth football programs and he also wants to treat varsity players as a teacher would treat a student.

“I’m not a yeller. I don’t believe the old way of grabbing a face mask and screaming at a kid works anymore. Treat them like they’re your own children and if they make a mistake, you can pull them aside. We’re teachers, first and foremost,” Schmitt said. “We want to have a good connection back and forth, where they know I’m not just here for a pay check and to win football games. I’m here because I care about Austin, the community and these kids.”

After 13 years as an assistant coach, Ed Schmitt has been hired as the new Austin head football coach. Rocky Hulne/

Austin junior Andy Chesak, who played linebacker and running back for the Packers last fall, said he’s looking forward to playing under Schmitt.

“I was excited when I heard that he got hired. He’s always been a good coach and everyone likes him,” Chesak said of Schmitt. “He’ll bring a good offense, he’ll bring change and he’ll bring success. We’re excited to get working to see what’s going to happen.”

Schmitt still has some work to do in getting the program set up with assistant coaches, but he’s ready to move forward. The Packers are scheduled to open their season at Faribault on Aug. 30.

Austin is coming off a 2-7 overall season and the Packers haven’t finished over .500 since the 2003 season when the Packers lost to Farmington 23-7 in the section title game.

Schmitt works as a probation/parole officer for Mower County.