Devine Family Shares Football Memories

Jul 30, 2013

For the Devine family, football is a father-son legacy guided by two legendary Heidelberg coaches.

The story begins with the late Paul Devine, Class of 1949, who played for the Berg in World War II era. Like many players of that time, he enrolled right out of high school, but was then drafted after his freshman year. When he resumed his education a few years later, he was a war veteran with a whole new perspective on life.

“My husband always said that every kid out of high school should go into the service so they could figure out what they wanted to do in life while serving their country,” said his widow and wife of 62 years, Betty Devine.

Betty and her son Steve recognize the 1940’s at Heidelberg was a unique time on campus, and that it took a special coach like Paul Hoernemann to work with both veterans and “true” freshmen on – and off—the football field.

“It was a different time and place,” said Betty. “The boys coming back from the service were older and had a lot of experience. It was a challenge to coach them, but they always respected Paul Hoernemann.”

Betty and Paul Devine met at Heidelberg, which she was able to attend due to a local scholarship program. “I don’t know what would have happened in my life without that scholarship,” she said. “I could not have asked for a better husband, he was a wonderful man.”

“He was the type of person who always loved football. There were X’s and O’s all over the house when he was coaching,” she recalled with a laugh. “After awhile, I learned to like football, too.”

Betty credit’s Hoernemann’s influence to leading Paul Devine to be signed by the Green Bay Packers after graduation, and later into high school coaching. He stayed close with Hoernemann through the years, and was an honorary pall bearer at his funeral. In 1987, Paul Devine was inducted into the Heidelberg Athletic Hall of Fame.

Steve went on to become a three year letter winner and Team Captain for the Berg as well as to pursue his own career in football after graduation.

“Heidelberg always sent me a card on my birthday when I was growing up,” Steve recalls. “So back in 1968, when it came time to make my selection of where to go to school, it was one of the reasons the Berg was my choice.”

His father and Paul Hoernemann also had a lot to do with Steve’s decision to pursue a career in football after graduation.

“I was always interested in hearing my Dad’s stories about football, and how Paul Hoernemann did things. Both of them really influenced my own choices.”

At Heidelberg, Pete Riesen became another powerful mentor for Steve. “I was very honored to named one of the team captains for him, and to part of the first winning season in a long line for Heidelberg. “

Like many players of the Riesen years, he has fond memories of the Coach’s clipboard. “You could hear him coming, and he sure got your attention when he hit you with it,” he laughed.

After graduation, Steve Devine was pleased to have the chance to coach with Pete Riesen at Bowling Green State University. He later went on to coach with Earl Bruce at Ohio State. Later, he was recruited to be a scout for the NY Giants, a position he’s held since 2001.

Steve says that college football culture has not changed that much, despite the media attention and negative stories that are sometimes told. “Young men still play football because they love to play football. I always tell them to just enjoy the game, and they’ll be successful.”

That sentiment was certainly true for both Steve and his father, Paul.

“My Dad was proud to be a Berg graduate and to play for Coach Hoernemann,” Steve said. “I’m glad to be part of a strong legacy.”

Making a gift to the Game Day Campaign for a new stadium for Heidelberg is way to honor his father, Paul Hoernemann and Pete Riesen, as well as support a needed addition on campus. “Despite the success we had (on the field), playing our games off campus we didn’t always fill up the stands and we didn’t always feel the closeness you have when you have your own stadium.”

Betty Devine agrees that the Stadium is good for Heidelberg, and is enthusiastic about supporting the project by naming Row D for the Devine family. And she also enjoyed the chance to make her donation jointly with her son for son, Steve.

In fact when it came to writing the check she was the one who remembered to write it to Heidelberg University instead of using Heidelberg College! “When Steve said, ‘You know, Mom, you’re right,’ I said, ‘Either way, it’s a smart thing to do for Heidelberg. It’s something your Dad and those great coaches would surely be proud of!’”