Former NFL coach meets with Veterans at Hampton VAMC - Hampton VA Medical Center
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Hampton VA Medical Center


Former NFL coach meets with Veterans at Hampton VAMC

Coach Schottenheimer poses with Mark Baker.

Schottenheimer and Baker pose for a picture to show their family and friends while sharing a great story of chance.

By Public Affairs
Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Chesapeake Bay waters run deep, especially for one Hampton VA Medical Center Community Living Center (CLC) Veteran who was taken by surprise during an Aug. 9 visit by former National Football League Coach Marty Schottenheimer.

“We see a lot of different visitors but when a celebrity like Coach Schottenheimer visits us ~ it really means a lot,” said Mark Baker, a former U.S. Naval officer and resident of the unit.  “I was definitely surprised when the coach introduced himself.”

The coach didn’t need an introduction.  Employees and residents alike walked and rolled their wheel chairs right up to the coach, smiles wide and hands outstretched.  The mood was infectious among the residents as word quickly spread that there was a celebrity visiting residents in the CLC.

“Coach, who do you look up to as your role model,” Baker asked.

“That’s an easy one to answer ~ it’s my cousin who served in the Navy,” the coach responded.  “I always looked up to him for what he did because he was a great leader.”

Without missing a beat ~ and already somehow knowing the name he would utter ~ Schottenheimer confirmed the Veteran’s hunch that they were talking about the same man.  The coach’s cousin, Lou Thomassey, had been Baker’s commanding officer when he was a flight officer on the U.S.S. Forrestal in 1989. 

Both men took a moment to ponder how small the world is and how incredible that they would come to share the same hero.  They reminisced about their hero and posed for a picture to show their family and friends. 

“It’s important to me to be able to come to the Hampton VA Medical Center and say thank you to all the Veterans who have served and sacrificed so much for our county,” said Schottenheimer.  “My history with the VA goes way back to when I was a football player in college.  We practiced on a field that was right next the VA hospital in Pittsburgh.”

That afternoon, Schottenheimer shook a lot of hands and was asked many questions during his VA visit.  But one particular question was on everyone’s mind: Were the Destroyers going to win this year?

“I always tell my guys, you can’t go the season undefeated if you don’t win the first game,” Schottenheimer said.  “It’s one step at a time, one day at a time, one game at a time.” 

Simple words of advice from a great NFL coach who is now the head coach and general manager for the Virginia Destroyers, a new professional football team of the UFL based in Virginia Beach, Va.  However, his words of wisdom are one that can work in everyday life.


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