Concordia football head coach Mike Eshbach enters new career of service with “Man’s Best Friend”

High School Sports

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) – With time spent at both Eastside and Wawasee, Mike Eshbach is no stranger to ‘Highlight Zone’ but this year will look a little different as he returns to Concordia Lutheran for the first time as a head coach.

“Based off my experience with Concordia when I was just a young coach out of college, I always thought so highly of the kids and the program. I just felt like it was an opportunity that I had to pursue and couldn’t really pass up.” Eshbach continued, “When you look at this conference from top to bottom there is not an easy week and so I think as a coach, you always want to coach at the highest level that you can. It’s different, I’ve coached in some other places but the SAC is different.”

His biggest reason for staying in coaching for Eshbach is the ability to help others reach their potentials and succeed.

“Coming to Concordia, one of the things that we’ve tried to impress upon our kids so far in our short time here is it’s not about you, it’s about your influence on others and I think that’s really important.” Eshbach said.

Off the field, the coach’s mission is the same. After spending 25 years as an administrator, Eshbach has transitioned out of the school system for a new career getting to train English Cream Golden Retrievers to be service dogs for this community and beyond.

Pictured is Mike Eshbach’s dog, Emma.

He started by training his dog, Emma.

“We had lost a teacher to cancer, and so we had invited some counselors to come in and one of the counselors had a therapy dog. Instantly when i’m looking at the grieving process and things like that, I looked at our principal and was like ‘why can’t Emma be that.” Eshbach said.

From there, the coach took a career leap of faith.

“The older you get, the more time is more valuable and that window of taking chances and taking opportunities was smaller, and so I thought this was a great opportunity and the timing seemed to work out well.” Eshbach said.

Now under Eshbach’s watch, golden retrievers like Emma and many more will be trained for a life of helping through service and therapy.

“When you pick up the phone and people ask you, ‘hey, what can we work out as far as a puppy goes’ and things like that and you hear their stories. Any where from Hawaii to Montana to Florida, all over the US and as the puppy grows, they send you pictures,” Eshbach said.

Two new journeys for Eshbach but with the common goal of serving others.

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