Holy Family Football Starts New Chapter
If you want to know the direction Holy Family Catholic High School’s football program is heading under new head Coach Tim Triplett, you don’t need a crystal ball. You need to look in the rearview mirror and talk to people the Fire coach has inspired.
Players like Nick Olson, one of Triplett’s early recruits out of Minnesota to the University of South Dakota in Vermillion, where Triplett was a positions coach from 2010 to 2014.
“When he came through and we talked, it wasn’t about covering the bullet points like a lot of other coaches,” Olson recalls. “He was asking what was I looking for and who was I as a person rather than trying to sell me to USD. He wanted to see if I was a fit there. He’s a genuine person and tries to get to know you.”
And, once he knows you, Olson says, he makes sure his passion for football and living life right rubs off on everyone he comes in contact with. Olson, now a tight ends coach at the University of St. Thomas, recalls it took just one small, seemingly insignificant moment to jump-start his deep passion for college football.
“One of my first practices at USD, I made a play—a pretty good play,” Olson recalls. “He (Triplett) yelled out in front of everyone, ‘Would you look at that—Nick Olson, the pride of Richfield, Minnesota High School!’
“That was a big moment for a true college freshman 5 hours away from home in a fairly large Division I football program,” Olson says. “I didn’t expect or even know he was watching.”
The lasting impact Triplett has on players like Olson has become his legacy wherever he has coached. He’s invested in people and does everything he can to make little moments life changing. Now, he’ll share those shining moments with Holy Family Catholic High School student athletes.
“Tim is one of those guys who coaches football for the right reasons,” says Jim Kilian, head coach of St. Olaf football in Northfield, who was the offensive coordinator at the University of St. Thomas while Triplett coached various specialized positions from 2015 to 2018.
“Tim doesn’t do it for the notoriety or name recognition, but for the opportunity to give back and give others the same opportunities he had through football. He teaches life lessons by using the game of football as the medium.”
HF Football Starts Off the Field
Coach Triplett, relaxed in a random chair scattered among many empty ones in the Holy Family team meeting room on a quiet July morning, shared his vision on Holy Family football—where it’s been and where he sees it going. The conversation surprisingly begins far removed from X’s and O’s.
“What I told guys in early team meetings is that there is culture and legacy here at Holy Family. We’re not going to change it but add to it,” he explains.
“We should be honored to be a part of it and will continue to grow it and enhance what we can so we positively influence those around us. We’re going to be measured by how we add value to other people’s lives by being a football player here.”
What does that mean? According to Triplett, Holy Family players:
- Hold doors for others
- Look people in the eye when they shake hands
- Hustle across the street when there’s a walk signal
- And always play hard, play together and play fast
Simple things like these send a message not only about his program, but also about the entire school.
“That, by extension, is the Holy Family way,” Coach Triplett says. “That’s what drew me here. We’re all on the same page.”
So far, the players have heard his message loud and clear, says senior Dominic Philliips.
“He’s super energetic and always available if you have any questions,” Phillips says. “And, he emphasizes the importance of a Catholic education and how important it is for us to give Holy Family a good rep.”
Coach Triplett, who likes to randomly toss in movie references to make a point, shared this thought: “I think they form a symbiotic circle, it is all encompassing of one,” he chuckles, noting his clever Star Wars reference. “Once we get culture right, a lot of things start going your way.”
Field Report: High Energy, Heavy D
Triplett introduced “Trip Football” to the team on the Holy Family practice field last June. It was the first organized team activity (OTA), one of 11 team activities coaches can conduct before the mandated two-week “blackout” (no contact with team).
“It’s definitely high tempo. There’s no lollygagging,” says senior Ryan Bowlin. “Coach emphasizes if you do the little things right and go at 110% percent, you’ll get into a good tempo that will show in the games.” (Find a schedule of games HERE.)
Phillips adds, “There’s never a dull moment. We’re always in ‘attack mode,’ always keeping the defense on its toes.”
That type of high-spirited practice is by design. “The transition from a practice to a game is going to be seamless,” Triplett says. “Our practices are going to be chaotic, stuff going on all the time just like a game.”
While it may feel frenzied to the players, Triplett’s plan is well thought out. “He’s very intentional with everything he does, even if it is a little different,” Olson says. “There is always a rhyme and a reason to what he does. That is what is unique compared to other coaches.”
Triplett did share his concrete plan to getting his Holy Family football program off on the right foot, and it starts with these early priorities:
- Organizing practice and meetings. “We’re setting expectations of what we’re doing on a daily basis and finding that groove that the kids will respond to.”
- Getting to know each other. “This is a completely different team than last year, with new players, coaches in new positions and a different style. It will force us to focus on the process, not the outcome.”
- Defining personnel. “We’re going to move dudes around. Where they think they’re playing now may not be indicative of where they’re playing in August.”
- Setting realistic goals. “Our goals should be to get better every day and improve. They will come in the form of what we do on a daily basis.”
Players have also seen an increased focus on conditioning, the need to understand a more complex college-style playbook (including five-receiver sets) and the expectation of knowing what all positions on the field are doing during any given play.
“There definitely is more focus on the playbook, which is because we have a new coach and he really knows his stuff and wants us to be just as knowledgeable,” senior Sam Riegert says.
All those high expectations deliberately deliver against what Coach Triplett wants people to notice when Holy Family takes the field for its first game on August 30.
“When you watch a ‘Trip Team,’ you’re going to face speed, physicality and lots of running, in no particular order,” Triplett says. “And, I’d have to say it starts with D. We have to be a team that will play fast, physical and together. Offensively, we’ll find a way to move the ball. We have the athletes here to do that.”
Setting the Tone for the Future
While Triplett is careful not to promise lofty goals for his first season (“If you set a goal, be careful how you word it,” he says), the players themselves have high expectations.
“We were 10-0 our freshman year and are a class that is close and loves football,” Phillips says. “Coach gives us achievable expectations and wants to help us achieve our goals.”
“Everyone has a mindset that they want to make it to state,” Riegert adds. “We have a talented senior class and plan to improve step by step, game by game.”
Coach Triplett, on the other hand, has a more simple approach to what he wants the players to experience this season.
“I’m looking for enthusiasm. We work too hard not to have a lot of fun. I tell my players, ‘Don’t forget to have fun. There will be longer days and frustrating plays, but always find the pieces where you have fun.’ ”
That approach is likely where Triplett will make the greatest impression his first season at Holy Family. His passion and energy will be noticeable at practice, on the sidelines and in the huddle. He’s looking to the seniors to grasp that energy and share it with players coming up. If they do, it will pay off for years to come.
“The numbers are certainly important,” Triplett says. “We’re going to need to grow numbers in certain positions. Hopefully, we start to grow our own numbers by examples we set, games we win and how we carry ourselves on and off the field.”
Olson was a part of that same vision 8 years ago at USD. He credits Coach Triplett for setting him up for football success that has lasted to this day.
“He shows you what being passionate about life and everything about it is about,” Olson shares. “He’s always the guy who is happy and excited about every day. It can rub off on you.”