Memories of Joe & Winona State

As you read in the last posting, Joe played football for the Winona State Warriors in the fall of 1971.  Moon Molinari knew Joe’s high school football coach, and it was at his prompting that Joe decided to go to Winona State.  However, Moon retired before Joe actually got to play football that fall.

Joe’s head coach was Bob Keister, who had been the defense coach under Moon.  Keister was only 37 years old, and when he took on the responsibilities of the head coaching job, he totally revamped the staff.  It was a “young and energetic coaching staff.”

The Winona State Warriors had just come off of two losing seasons, and the the 1971 season wasn’t any better.  A young coaching staff and young players, including a freshman quarterback, the team was plagued with high-scoring shut outs and lots of injuries, including Joe.

Details of Joe’s playing career at Winona State are sketchy at best.  Joe’s head high school coach remembers Joe starting every game, but his senior “mentor” says that Joe didn’t start, but would be subbed in later in the games.  Joe’s “mentor” also said that he remembered Joe as being very shy and a goofball–much like his high school teammates remembered him.  His mentor said they had some great times together, and the one things that sticks out in his memory is the time that they played the University of Chicago at Soldier Field.  While they were in Chicago, they visited the top of the Sears Tower.  Joe was so scared to stand up that he crawled across the floor to the windows!  Since Joe was in Chicago with the team, we know that he was one of 25 traveling freshman for the team.

Stories are also sketchy as to how Joe really got hurt.  Some say it was during practice, some say that it was during a game, some say he hit a goal post.   Regardless, Joe was hit, or hit something, hard enough that it apparently caused his helmut to crack.  He suffered a severe concussion and was told he should never play football again.

Ironically, even though Joe must have been one of the 25 traveling freshman on the team, and is very well remembered by his senior mentor, Coach Keister had no recollection of Joe.  In fact, he put me in contact with several “Hall of Famers” from that year, and they also had no memory of Joe.  They only knew that he had played because they had a roster with Joe’s name on it.

And, an attempt to interview Moon Molinari, who was Joe’s first introduction to the team, was not possible either.  At the time this book was started, Moon was 91 years old and was in the hospital.  He passed away on October 20, 2011.


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