Paul "The Fox" Hoernemann Biography

Feb 13, 2013

College Football Hall of Fame Biography (Excerpt)

Paul "The Fox" HoernemannPaul Hoernemann coached Heidelberg 14 years and lost only 18 games. He won 102 and tied 4. His winning percentage was .839.

Hoernemann was a graduate of Heidelberg, class of 1938. He coached high school football at New Philadelphia, Ohio, with a 24-3-3 record.

In 1946 he began his remarkable record at Heidelberg. His teams had a 16-game winning streak in 1947-49 and a 17-game streak in 1954-56. In a 6-year stretch, 1951-56, the record was 46-5-3. Heidelberg won the Ohio Conference in 1948, 1952, 1954, and 1956. The school would have had one more co-championship except for an unusual rule in the conference.

Hoernemann had two unbeaten teams and seven that lost just one game.

After he left coaching, he served Heidelberg as vice-president for development and raised funds to build the school's Science Hall.

The Ohio Conference established the Hoernemann Trophy, given to the best defensive lineman.

Hoernemann was born May 18, 1916 in Lima, Ohio, and died Feb. 28, 1965, in Strongsville, Ohio.

Additional Honors

  • Naming of Hoernemann Refectory on campus in 1966.
  • Inducted into Ohio High School Coaches Association Hall of Fame in 1994.
  • Inducted into the College Football Hall of fame in 1997.
  • The Paul Hoernemann Award, given each year to a Heidelberg senior who exemplifies: good scholarship, high ethical character, leadership qualities, proficiency in athletics (intramural and/or varsity) and loyalty to the spirit of Heidelberg.
  • Many players who went on to successful coaching careers.
  • Players such as Bill Groman and Jim Boeke went on to enjoy careers as pro football players in the NFL.

“Paul was a good recruiter, but I remember him as a builder of men. You know, he wasn’t just a coach. He followed these players after they graduated. He wanted them to be successful. He was very loyal. And you know, West Point tried to recruit him, and he stayed at Heidelberg. That says a lot.”
— Dr. Kenneth Davison, retired faculty member

“Paul Hoernemann and the Glory Years of Heidelberg Football”, a book about the Hoernemann era, will soon be available.

Based on interviews with players and community and campus leaders, reviews of game films, archival research and more, “The Glory Years” tells the story of how football held small town life together in America in the post-WW II years.

The introduction of the book helps to put the significance of the Hoernemann years into context:

“This book is the saga of not only one of the most successful coaches in college football history, but more importantly the narrative of an outstanding man who, through sports, touched the lives of those who knew him in profoundly positive ways. In choosing to live his life in small towns at small schools with limited resources, his Hall of Fame accomplishments are even more noteworthy.”

Inside, the book describes many of the most memorable moments of The Fox’s career:

“Muskingum could only run two plays before the game ended and Hoernemann had his 100th victory by a count of 7-6. The players carried him off the field and Heidelberg fans rushed the team and unfurled a hug banner congratulating the coach. He was very proud of his team and called it the biggest win of his career, made much sweeter by the fact that it had come against the one team he had the least success against.”

“On January 31 1957, the citizens of Tiffin gave him a new Oldsmobile as a ‘token of appreciation for his meritorious service to the community’. The town had benefited greatly from the considerable attention his teams had brought to it and they fully supported Hoernemann in his efforts to maintain a winning tradition at Heidelberg. This certainly explained how a school with barely 600 students could regularly draw 3,000 to 5,000 fans per home game.”

“Paul Hoernemann and the Glory Years of Heidelberg Football” is a labor of love complied by a team Heidelberg fans, Hoernemann family friends, historians and authors – Lee Eudon Holland, former Heidelberg student; John Abbott, son of Hoernemann team physician Dr. Abbott; Doug Collar, Ph.D., Heidelberg faculty member and Hoernemann family friend; Laurie Gomulka Palazzolo, author; and Robert Dunkelberger, archivist.

The authors and Jane Hieronymus are providing signed complimentary copies of the book to all those who support the Foxmen Challenge, as part of their show of support for the naming of the new stadium after Heidelberg’s legendary coach.