Northwood University football coach, associate athletic director dies at age 54

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MIDLAND COUNTY (WJRT) - (07/14/15) - Northwood University in Midland County has told ABC12 it's lost its football coach and associate athletic director.

Pat Riepma died Tuesday after 21 years with the university. He was just 54 years old.

His team slogan was "Go MAD"; standing for "Go Make A Difference". One could argue nobody made more of a difference at Northwood University than Riepma.

"The most wins in a season, the most wins in a career, the most playoff appearances, the most conference championships. You name a coaching record, he probably owns it," said Northwood Sports Information Director Travis McCurdy.

That's just on the field.

"Whether it's our facilities, our achievements on the field, in the classroom, it's Pat," McCurdy said.

Riepma came to Northwood in 1993 as head coach and added the role of athletic director in 2000. Stepping down as coach in 2007, he settled back into a head coach/associate AD dual role in 2013.

His 21-year career with the Timberwolves included 96 wins - the most in school history - and millions of dollars raised for athletics.

"As good of a coach and as good of an administrator he is, he's an even better father and family man," McCurdy said.

That included his football family - a family he would lean on after being diagnosed with lung cancer last year, his second cancer diagnosis in five years.

"I can remember him, even on his bad days, showing up to work with a smile on face," said senior tight end David Kolanek, who got the call that his coach had passed, Tuesday morning.

The Bay City native says Riepma was a big reason why he came to Northwood and the lessons he learned from the coach go well beyond football.

"Every guy in that locker room loved Coach Riepma. He did so much for all of us and made us better men," Kolanek said.

It's those life-long lessons the team will take long after their football careers are over.

"It's heartbreaking," Kolanek said. "(But) you can look back and try to celebrate his life as much as you can and I think that's what he would want."

Riepma's legacy will live on in Northwood Football. One of his sons, Zach, is an assistant coach, and another, Jake, plays on the team.

Riepma's funeral is next Wednesday, July 22, at Hantz Stadium, where he coached for so many years.

Visitation is Tuesday from 4-7 p.m. at Smith-Miner Funeral Home and on Wednesday at the Stadium before the service.

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