Glenn Noe remembers the day in 1969 when he dropped his oldest son Ricky off to Portage Pop Warner football practice at the field on Evergreen Avenue.
Coach Bill Holmes was conducting practice by himself.
"There were like 35-40 kids out there and one coach," Noe recalled. " I saw he needed help and Bill asked me to take some kids and maybe show them the stance.
"I was hooked on it."
Little did he know then that he would have such an impact on young men and on the Portage High School football program.
Former Portage football coach and current Homewood-Flossmoor coach Craig Buzea said one word comes to mind when thinking of Noe.
"'Fun-damentals,'" Buzea said. "Every kid that I coached that had the pleasure to play for Coach Noe always talked about how enjoyable a time they had in playing for him. He had the unique skill of making the gamer fun while teaching the basics of blocking and tackling to young kids, which is not easy.
"Kids do love playing for him."
Noe assisted Holmes and stayed in coaching for 43 years between the Portage and South Haven programs which feed into Portage High School. He was part of 14 state titles at different levels of the Pop Warner program.
"We had some great players and good coaches," Noe said. "I worked with Ralph Cox, Bill, and Jim Connors."
He said you could tell which kids would be good players at the high school level. He coached many of the kids who helped Portage and head coach Les Klein win the 1977 Class AAA state championship.
"You know how smart I was? I had Mark Evans as a guard," Noe said. "Here this guy was an all-state quarterback and I had him at guard.
"Boy, could he run that option. Held onto the ball until the last minute, took the hit and pitched to (Mike) Wishnevski."
He said he had a great relationship with the Portage High School coaching staff, including head coaches Les Klein, Bubba Mattix and Buzea.
"They would support us," Noe said. "You need that in a community. Bubba, he would be working the chains on Sunday when his kid played for me."
Noe and his wife Mary have been married for 56 years. He feels as if he has 1,000 kids from his days as a coach. He said he loved doing it and loved seeing his players become successful and parents themselves.
"I felt like I should give back because my dad got killed when I was 10," Noe said. "I was raised without a dad, but a lot of people were good to me and I remember that. I just wanted to be a part of the community."
Noe is a retired pipefitter from Local 597. He was born in Ranger, W.Va. and graduated from Guyan Valley High School. He said he received a few offers to play college football, including from Marshall.
He went to Detroit and worked for Cadillac. It was there he met Mary, a Kentucky native.
"Detroit was a great town. If you wanted a job, you could get one and a good-paying one," Noe said. "Jobs were plentiful. The town was beautiful. we used to go see the Tigers and Lions at Tiger Stadium.
"Al Kaline was with the Tigers. The Lions had Joe Schmidt at linebacker. They won the (NFL) title in 1957. Great times."
He moved to Portage in 1963 and joined the pipefitters union.