MINNEAPOLIS – A Minneapolis college football coach is opening up about how life changed this year in a very personal way.
Jack Osberg captained the Augsburg University football team in 1960. He went on to coach the team. Back in October, he gathered with his former players for the 25-year anniversary of the 1997 Augsburg football team's conference win.
"I just was thrilled. I mean, the memories, they just came all back," Osberg said. "And some of [the players] were bigger, and some of them were smaller [laughs]!"
Memories carry more weight to Coach Osberg these days. He doesn't take them for granted, especially now that he's back on the field as assistant coach, at the invitation of Darren Lamker, his former star player.
"He's obviously a great football mind, but just a great person and a family man that's kind of showed me the ropes," Lamker said. "And when your old head coach agrees to work for you, that makes you feel really good."
"It's a joy to come back and be a part of what you have seen as a player now become a coach," Osberg said.
He's full of joy, yet missing his personal cheerleader in the stands – his wife of 46 years, and mother of their six children – Nina.
"I get emotional," he said. "She recruited with me, and she taught high school at Wayzata, and did a marvelous job with kids that needed help."
Last winter, Alzhemer's disease took its toll, and he had to make the decision to move Nina into a memory care unit.
"Hardest decision of my life," Osberg said.
He stops by every day to see her, and to comfort her. But he knows it will never be the same.
"Some days she's so giddy and so conversational. Other days you work to keep something going," Osberg said.
He walks with her, he talks with her, and more than anything he feels for her, as he adjusts to a new life he did not want or choose.
Augsburg's gridiron is his comfort zone, where they know his circumstances, because they know Nina. And they know the example Coach Osberg has been to the team in the fall of 2022.
"Miss Nina, lovely lady. Just what Coach did everyday for her, bringing her to practice, allowing us to talk to her and let her know what's going on," said Augsburg defensive lineman Shaquille Young.
"Showing these young men what that's about is probably one of the coolest things for me to see, and my family to see, and even these young men," Lamker said.
Nina may never sit again in Augsburg's stands, a place that has meant so much, and that is sad. But life has a new plan for the coach and husband.
"It's such a brutal disease, and a lot of people suffer from it," Osberg said.
The Osberg family is grateful for their memories, their faith, and their love – all stronger than any disease.
"Every night I say a prayer, and I ask the good Lord to watch over us, and get Nina some joy, some comfort, some peace," he said.
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