Kostich family shares passion for football, with big weekend ahead involving Concordia-St. Thomas and Minnesota-NDSU

Moorhead - Shawn Kostich was in sixth grade when his dad, Dan Kostich, realized how interested his oldest son was in coaching football. The Kostichs were on their annual spring trip to south Florida that usually included visits with the Miami Dol...

Moorhead - Shawn Kostich was in sixth grade when his dad, Dan Kostich, realized how interested his oldest son was in coaching football.

The Kostichs were on their annual spring trip to south Florida that usually included visits with the Miami Dolphins or Miami Hurricanes football teams.

On that particular trip, the Hurricanes offensive line coach Art Kehoe let Dan and Shawn sit in on a meeting.

"He told Shawn, 'You better pay attention because I'm going to ask you questions when we're done,' " Dan recalled. "So here we're sitting with the offensive linemen, we're looking at video, he's going through stuff."

Then Kehoe turned to ask Shawn a question.


"Shawn fired the answer right out, which as a parent makes you proud," Dan said. "I thought, 'Maybe there is an interest here,' because there are not many kids that age who are going to pay attention to what's going on."

Shawn is still playing attention. He and his father will be on the sidelines Saturday for two important area college football games.

Dan is the co-offensive coordinator for Concordia, which hosts No. 3-ranked St. Thomas at 1:10 p.m. at Jake Christiansen Stadium. Shawn is a defensive graduate assistant coach for the University of Minnesota, which hosts North Dakota State at 6 p.m. at TCF Bank Stadium. You can also add into the equation Blake Kostich, Dan's youngest son and a junior safety for the Cobbers.

"I think this one is a little more special than usual, just because of the North Dakota State factor coming in, a team I watched so much when I was young, and with my dad and brother playing in a big game," said Shawn, who is 25 years old. "I think it's a cool deal."

Let's not forget mom.

Linda Kostich will be at "The Jake" on Saturday watching the Cobbers, but also hoping she could be at Shawn's game.

"It's really hard," she said. "I would love to be with Shawn and then Blake and Dan are playing. ... I think it will be very, very chaotic."

Shawn is in his first year as graduate assistant for the Gophers under new head coach Jerry Kill.


In 2009 and 2010, Shawn was an offensive intern for the Gophers. Shawn said he is very thankful that Kill gave him the chance to be on the staff. Shawn said it's common for his work day to start at 6 a.m. and end around midnight.

"Minnesota football is everything to me right now," said Shawn, a U of M graduate. "A lot of my friends are getting married and they have a wife and kids and this is my wife and this is my kid."

Linda remembers Dan, the former head coach at Moorhead High, taking Shawn to the football field as early as nine months old.

Shawn was the water boy for the Spuds and would often follow equipment manager Al Gravalin, who has the nickname "Pebbles" around and help clean helmets in the equipment room.

When Dan led the Spuds a state football title in 1987, Linda said, soon after the game ended Dan grabbed Shawn and took him onto the Metrodome field.

"Shawn was just a little guy, probably barely two, and he could not say Spuds," Linda recalled with a laugh. "So he said 'Go subs' and then he would clap. He would be hollering out in the crowd, 'Go subs! Go subs!' "

Both Shawn and Blake were multi-sport athletes at Moorhead High. Football, however, was the sport that was omnipresent.

"I think the biggest thing is dads take their kids hunting, fishing, skiing, I took mine to football," Dan said. "They were exposed to it at a young age, and they were exposed to it for a long period of time."


While Dan, Blake and Linda will be in Moorhead on Saturday, and Shawn, in Minneapolis, game days unite the Kostich family.

"It seems like we always have a bond come the weekends with family," said Blake, who often sends Shawn a good luck text on Friday nights. "We're all a little bit closer.

"It's pretty cool when I come home after a long day at 'The Jake' and I see my older brother down there in the (Twin) Cities on TV. It's a neat experience."

Dan said NDSU has been good to the coaching staffs on which he's worked at both Moorhead High and Concordia.

However, this is the one weekend he won't hoping the Bison win.

"That is a big game for the Bison and we've always tried to support our area teams. If we're coming back on the road and the first thing we do if the Bison are playing at night is turn on the Bison game. It's going to be exciting," Dan said. "I wish them all the luck all year, except for one game."

Dan and Blake made it to one of Shawn's games last season. The Gophers beat Iowa at home to win the Floyd of Rosedale trophy.

"We got to have them in the locker room with the pig," Shawn said. "I just remember that being a really great moment for that family. It was one of the greatest experiences I've ever had. You kind of look at that moment and say, 'That's why I do all this work,' for moments like that."


Blake hopes Saturday is another memorable day for the Kostich family.

"The ultimate Saturday for me would be to come here to 'The Jake,' have a great game and beat the Tommies, go home and watch my older brother on TV get a win," Blake said. "Saturdays have always been crazy for our family."

Readers can reach Forum reporter Eric Peterson at (701) 241-5513.

Peterson's blog can be found at

Peterson covers college athletics for The Forum, including Concordia College and Minnesota State Moorhead. He also covers the Fargo-Moorhead RedHawks independent baseball team and helps out with North Dakota State football coverage. Peterson has been working at the newspaper since 1996.
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