New Buffalo Bills head coach McDermott is nephew of Pelican teacher Colleen Guhl

By Louis Hoglund

Pelican Rapids schools have a distinct connection to the National Football League, following the announcement that Sean McDermott was named head coach of the Buffalo Bills.

The announcement “made the news” on the air–as high school Principal Brian Korf announced it over the intercom last week.

Eleven-year Pelican teacher Colleen Guhl is proud of McDermott–who is her nephew.  David Guhl is Colleen’s husband; and McDermott is the son of his older sister.

The extended families have kept in contact, though somewhat sporadically, as McDermott went on to play football for the College of William and Mary, and on to a pro football career as an administrator, assistant coach and now head coach with the Philadelphia Eagles, Carolina Panthers and now Buffalo Bills.

“About three years ago, we flew to Charlotte (North Carolina) for a game,” said Colleen.  “Because of our connection, we had on-field passes and we got out on the field before the game.  Sean came to the sidelines to greet us, and then he had to get back to work.”

The extended family has roots in Nebraska, Iowa and Philadelphia, where McDermott went to high school and enjoyed a successful high school football career.

“We’ve always had some connection,” said Colleen, noting that families would gather at reunions and family functions.

Commenting on McDermott, Colleen said: “He’s a very driven individual; one who will always see the good in a person, and bring out the best in the person…He works very hard, and is always learning ways to improve himself and the people he works with, whether it is players or other coaches.”

McDermott’s professional football career dates to 1998 with Philadelphia, where he rose to defensive coordinator.  In 2011, he took the position as defensive coordinator for the Carolina Panthers. His head coach assignment with Buffalo was announced Jan. 11.

“It’s cool to have that connection.  One of these years we’ll probably go to a game in Buffalo,” said Guhl, who is a FCS (Family and Consumer Sciences) teacher in the Pelican school system. “We will probably be traveling through  Buffalo this summer, and plan to see him…and maybe get a tour of the stadium.”