The Saints’ coaching staff has over 75 years of experience just between Head Coach Dan Smrekar and defensive coordinator Toby Schweitzer, but there’s another piece of the team they will be relying on when they hit the field Friday. One who won’t be calling plays, but maybe the biggest part of their coaching staff.
When the Saints punched their ticket to the Dakota Bowl for the seventh time in the last nine years there was one guy who may have been happier than anyone else.
“People say he has a disability, and I sometimes think we’re the ones with the disability and I’d rather have his passion and his attitude and his way of life because he’s always a pretty happy guy,” Saints’ defensive coordinator Toby Schweitzer said.
Andy Richter has down syndrome, but that hasn’t stopped his passion for sports. You won’t find his name listed in a media guide, but he’s been an honorary coach for the Saints for nearly 25 years.
“I can help coach in the Fargo Dome, and sports, and win,” Andy said.
If there’s one thing Coach Andy is serious about, it’s winning.
“He does bring a lot of energy, but I think the most important thing is he is adamant about winning,” Andy’s nephew Jayden Richter said. “Any time you talk to him about any sport with St. Mary’s, ‘We’re going to win.'”
Coach Andy’s been a part of the St. Mary’s winning tradition for decades, he’s one of ten Richter boys. And he has nephews on this year’s football team. He’s pretty much anywhere that there’s a Saints game.
“He’s so engrained in the success and the athletics here at St. Mary’s that it’s like he sees himself as a coach, as a player, and just an integral part of the organization that he’s hanging out with,” Saints’ assistant wrestling coach Jayden Richter said.
And when there’s no coach Andy on the sidelines there’s a missing piece to the Saints’ puzzle.
“Coming from a school like ours you shouldn’t be superstitious, but people are, and when Andy’s not here everybody gets a little bit worried I think,” Schweitzer explained. “So what does he do for us? He gives guys incentive to do their best for him.”
And win or lose in Fargo, Coach Andy will be there for the Saints when the final horn sounds.