When players reach coach Randy Minniear’s station during football drills, he offers them a “word of the day” and asks them to come back with a definition.
“My first one I always start off with is: ‘Character. What is character?’” he said.
“I define character as what a person does when the world isn’t watching.”
In front of crowds and reporters, Minniear is a constant booster for the teams, the athletes and the coaches.
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“That’s him, even behind closed doors. He’s very positive,” assistant football coach Colton Sample said.
“Whether it’s about the coach or about the team, I mean, he’s — that is Randy Minniear.”
“He just loves life and loves the kids, and it just puts a little pep in your step when you talk to him,” said Brown County High School Principal Shane Killinger.
Minniear’s history with sports started at Tabernacle Recreation in Indianapolis when he was 7. He played football and basketball there, as well as Little League baseball.He continued playing all three sports at Broad Ripple High School. In 1961, he was named the Indianapolis High School Athlete of the Year. He also made All-City, All-State and High School All-American in both football and baseball.Last month, Minnear was inducted into the Indianapolis Public Schools Hall of Fame. The Broad Ripple class of 1962 nominated him for a lifetime of accomplishments.
He went on to play baseball and football at Purdue University. He led the Big Ten Conference in touchdowns in 1964. He earned a degree in coaching and teaching with a minor in biological sciences and spent a year at Purdue graduate-coaching.
He was then drafted by both the New York Giants and the Minnesota Twins. Minniear chose football, playing three seasons with the Giants and one with the Cleveland Browns.
But in the 1960s, playing football did not pay the off-season bills. Putting food on the table led him to a Wall Street trading desk during the off-season.
When he blew a knee in a kickoff return against the Steelers, his primary profession went from running back to block trader, where he handled the accounts of institutional investors.
The knee took Minniear out of the game, but it did not take him out of sports. He has been involved with the NFL Alumni association for 39 years and served as chairman of the board for about 21, he said.
But his love for coaching, teaching and helping kids always took a front seat — from his NFL Alumni charity work, to about 24 years coaching Pop Warner football, to about 18 years coaching Little League baseball in Freehold, New Jersey.
“My passion in life is working with kids,” Minniear said.
In 2009, when he and his wife, Becky, moved back to Indiana, he was called by a number of schools that wanted him to volunteer, he said.Minniear saw one program he agreed with, one he felt he could contribute to. BCHS football coach Ken Wendling got him.Since then, Minniear has become the face of pride and enthusiasm in Brown County athletics.
“He stresses to us kids is that we’re from Brown County, and that’s something to be proud of,” said junior Baylee Mosier, whom Minniear coaches in football.
When boys basketball head coach Chuck Hutchins was interviewing in 2014, Minniear was the second person he met in the district.
“He was so positive about Brown County’s athletics, you couldn’t help but feel the same way and want to be a part of it,” Hutchins said.
As Minniear resigned some NFL Alumni duties, he reinvested that time in the kids, including coaching baseball.
Now, Minniear can be found around the high school many days of the week, talking with the students he coaches and their teachers after school, said assistant football coach Jay Myers.
“He’s just passionate about football and about Brown County,” Myers said. “He loves the school and loves the sport, and that just kind of overflows out of him.
“You can tell that he’s in his element when he’s there — out on the practice field or walking around in the hallways and seeing the players he coaches.”
About three years after he started coaching football at Brown County, Minniear underwent treatment for prostate cancer. He continues to take medication to keep the cancer from coming back.In the midst of radiation, Minniear still made almost every practice.Wendling renamed the football team’s annual “Mr. Tough Award” to “The Randy Minniear Mr. Tough Award.”
Minniear never complained or lost his positive attitude, Wendling said.
“That’s just Randy. He was going to do what he was asked to do and didn’t look for anybody to give him any sympathy,” he said.
Each year, Minniear picks a player to receive the award who stayed dedicated to the team despite something that could have held him back.
This past season, senior Tyler Lanfair was the recipient. He sustained a hand injury and had to work around it to keep playing football, Minniear said.
The feeling of Minniear choosing him can be summed up in one word: “Honored,” Lanfair said.
For the students
“He’s basically a ball of energy,” said former football head coach Ethan Schreiber. “We just wish we had as much energy as he does. He’s a very positive person, very goal-oriented, but he also cares a lot about the kids.”“I don’t know that I’ve ever talked to him where he’s had something negative to say,” Sample said. “His heart is far greater than his stature.”When it comes to motivating the student-athletes — a phrase Minniear notes for the emphasis it places on education — he makes no bones about what he thinks of their potential.
“Why not us?” is his pregame rallying cry.
“Is there going to be a winner in the division? Yes. Is there going to be a regional winner? Yes. And I say, OK, why not us?” he said.
Even during this year’s 2-6 football season, Mosier does not remember a single negative word from Minniear.
“He’s there for the kids, he’s the one that’s there on Saturdays, he’s putting in the commitment,” Mosier said.
And the students respond.
“I think the kids would run through a brick wall for Randy,” said baseball head coach Kyle Heminger.
“He can coach any aspect of the game,” Heminger said. “The wealth of knowledge that he has for baseball is unbelievable.”
Minniear has worked with seniors Austin Heminger and Matt Redmond as pitching coach and in other aspects of the game.
There is never a question among players as to where Minniear’s priorities lie.
“He’s a competitor, but he would never raise his voice to a kid in a way that would hurt his feelings,” Austin Heminger said. “He’s really motivational. He’s really inspirational.”
For Minniear, the student-athletes are the focus more than the game, Redmond said.Lanfair is looking at a career in athletic training, and Minniear regularly checks in with him, making sure he’s on the right track.Helping in the weight room after school, Minniear can answer questions about what players plan to do after graduation as easily as he can questions about their workouts.
“I think coaching is about more than just the sport,” Minniear said. “It’s about helping young people develop and grow and find their passion and find what they want.”
“Sports is just sort of the platform,” said Brown County Intermediate School principal Brian Garman, who worked with Minniear as high school athletic director. “He wants the best for the kids, and he wants the kids to have the most success that they can have.”
And Minniear’s excitement for Brown County kids goes beyond sports.
He talks with pride about the junior high We the People civics team that took two national championships and about the recent regional second-place finish by the theater department.
“I think young people can really do anything they want to do if they put their mind to it, and if they work hard enough, and if they really go after it,” he said. “They can accomplish so much more than I even think they realize.
“Have a passion. Have a dream. Follow it. Don’t be afraid to go after it.
“If you fall a little short, you still have accomplished a lot more than you would have if you just settle.”
“There’s always somebody looking up to you for what you’ve accomplished. So, I say, ‘Take that responsibility.’ Remember that: that somebody is looking up to you, and that you need to set an example and set a standard for them to strive for.”
“Opportunities don’t come along all the time, and when an opportunity comes along, be willing and be strong enough to step up and accept that opportunity and go for it.”
“They are ‘student-athletes,’ and it’s in that order for a reason. And I want them to get their grades, and I want them to go on to college somewhere, and if they want to play ball, that’s great, that’s wonderful. But, go on and get that education, and prepare yourself for what comes after.”
“We’re building a culture here at Brown County. Throughout all the sports, I truly believe that we are building a culture, ‘We can win.’ It’s not that we’re always going to be the doormat. No. We can win.”
“I think athletics is a great mirror of life. … Literally and figuratively, you’re gonna get knocked down, and you’ve gotta be able to get back up and brush yourself off and go on and strive for whatever it is that you were doing at the time that you got knocked down. You don’t say, ‘I got beat, and that’s it.’ No, that’s not it.”