Bye-week babies: 3 UND football coaches thankful for extra time at home
GRAND FORKS -- Ann Freund rocked newborn baby boy Tucker in her south Grand Forks living room upstairs. Downstairs, her husband Danny Freund, the University of North Dakota football team's wide receivers coach, was playing with almost-2-year-old ...
GRAND FORKS - Ann Freund rocked newborn baby boy Tucker in her south Grand Forks living room upstairs.
Downstairs, her husband Danny Freund, the University of North Dakota football team's wide receivers coach, was playing with almost-2-year-old Jossy, who was cooking ice cream before showing off her abilities on a rocking horse.
This team parenting effort was made possible by the UND football team's first-round bye in the FCS playoffs, where the Fighting Hawks will be the No. 7 seed in the school's first Division I football tournament.
But Danny isn't the only UND football coach taking advantage of Thanksgiving weekend at home.
Two other UND assistant coaches are handling very similar situations.
The Freunds, Luke and Tiffany Knauf and Eric and Tiffany Schmidt all were coming down the home stretch of pregnancies late in the regular season.
Now, thanks to two weeks off at the end of the regular season and the start of the playoffs, all three wives will have their husbands at home for Thanksgiving during an important stretch of their personal lives.
Danny and Ann Freund's baby came first, with Ann delivering Tucker on Nov. 18, a week before she was due.
Then came the Schmidts. Eric and Tiffany had Harrison, their third child, Monday afternoon.
The Knaufs (Luke is UND's offensive line coach) plan to have their new baby Dec. 4, a day after UND hosts the winner of Richmond and North Carolina A&T in the Alerus Center.
"We're thankful the baby came on the bye week, so he can be with me," Ann said. "We were really praying for the additional week so he can be with us for Thanksgiving. It's the late nights that are the tough part with bath time and getting everybody ready for bed."
Eric Schmidt, UND's defensive coordinator, said the coaches' ability to juggle football and family is enabled by head coach Bubba Schweigert.
"I think I've got a good guy to work for who is supportive," said Schmidt, who was able to sneak in some football preparation when everyone was asleep at the hospital earlier this week. "I know that if I fail at home, I fail. So that's got to be No. 1."
After each season, Schweigert writes a letter to the wives of his coaching staff to thank them for dealing with the long hours of the college football coaching profession.
"It was important for my wife to get that note," Luke Knauf said. "That's a big deal for her. The staff has been great that way."
Tiffany Knauf plans to be at the Alerus for UND's playoff game, although Luke gave her some instructions.
"If she gets ready to go there, it might come out that day," Luke said. "I told her to tone it down a bit so that doesn't happen."
Knauf's dad was a longtime high school coach in Wisconsin and also coached at the college level at Wisconsin-Steven's Point. Luke said he learned a few lessons from his dad about priorities.
"Time is important as a coach and it's hard to get family time," Luke said. "When you get those times, you better make them count.
"I've been on staffs that grind from 5 a.m. to midnight. It's nice when a guy like Paul Rudolph (offensive coordinator) says 'Go, I'll take the offensive line today.'"
Danny Freund also credited Schweigert for easing the balancing act of football and family. He said Schweigert told him not to go out recruiting over the weekend to be with his family.
"I'm fortunate to work with a person like that," he said. "You know this isn't happening everywhere. It's pretty special."
Ann Freund echoes those sentiments.
"I feel like anytime we need anything, (Schweigert) is the first to say, 'Danny, go, family first,'" Ann said. "I feel close with him on a level where if I needed anything I could ask him for it. Coach Schweigert is that personable and caring. He truly cares about our family. I don't know if you get that with every coach."