SEATTLE, WA (KELO) — Kalen DeBoer coached football at the University of Sioux Falls (USF) from 2000 – 2009, spending his first few years as offensive coordinator before taking over head coaching duties in 2005.
In his time as head coach at USF, DeBoer went 67-3, winning three NAIA championships.
After leaving USF, he bounced around a handful of teams, taking over as head coach at Fresno State in 2020, and most recently being hired on as Head Coach at the University of Washington (UW) at the end of the 2021 season.
The 2022 season was a success. The team went 11-2 for the season, and 7-2 within the Pac-12 conference and picked up a win at the Alamo Bowl.
This season has also started out hot, capped most recently by a win over rival University of Oregon on Saturday, October 14, leaving the team at 6-0, and 3-0 within the conference.
That Saturday however, DeBoer (as well as fellow former USF-turned-UW coaches Chuck Morrell and Ryan Grubb) was not the only Sioux Falls Cougar in Husky Stadium. A handful of former USF players were also in attendance.
KELOLAND News caught up with one member of that group Tuesday, Sioux Falls oral surgeon Trevor Holleman, who played Free Safety for USF from 2006 – 2009 while DeBoer was head coach.
“There was a group of former players that had been talking about trying to get to a game this year, and a couple guys took the lead and texted our old coaches out there — and they thought the Oregon game would be a good one to come check out,” Holleman said.
It was indeed a good one for the dozen or so players who were able to make the trip, with the Huskies pulling out the 36-33 win over the Ducks.
“It was pretty epic,” reflected Holleman. “The whole day was just really really fun — it’s a pretty big rivalry and having those two teams ranked in the top 10 for the first time ever in a matchup was pretty fantastic.”
Holleman also reflected on how big of a game this was. “I don’t know if they’ve had as big a game there for the past 20-30 years,” he said. “They really showed out for it — it was a packed house.”
After discussing the atmosphere at the game, Holleman took the time to reflect on his history with DeBoer and the other coaches.
“Coach DeBoer, Coach Grubb, Coach Morrell, all of them were just instrumental in the success at the University of Sioux Falls,” he said. “All us guys that played for them; we really respect them and are really proud of them for what they’re doing right now.”
Holleman said that despite a busy schedule on a home game weekend against a conference rival, DeBoer made sure to make time for his former players.
“On a Friday he gave everybody a tour of the facility — he spent around two-hours of his day hanging out with us,” Holleman said.
Despite the success that this coaching staff has had, Holleman says it hasn’t changed who they are. “They’re the same guys they were 10-15 years ago. They haven’t changed,” he said. “They’ve just taken their same principles they used at USF and applied them at a little bit bigger of a stage.”
Holleman credits these principles for a portion of UW’s success.
“One of the big things he always talks about is you want guys to play for you that are hungry and love football,” Holleman reflected. “The other thing that Coach DeBoer was extremely passionate about was being very disciplined and paying attention to every single detail.”
Holleman said this discipline and attention is one particular thing he remembers. “When you step on the field, you know you’re going to be more prepared than the other team,” he said. “He’s taken that from the University of Sioux Falls, and every stop he’s went, he’s been successful not only because he’s a great guy — but he’s also detail-oriented and extremely disciplined and those things matter when you get into big games.”
These principles served USF and Holleman well. In his time at USF, Holleman, now part of the USF Hall of Fame, was a two-time 1st Team All-American who lead USF to a 56-1 record, three NAIA championships and 4 GPAC league crowns.
Playing at free safety, he’s one of USF’s best defensive backs, having pulled in 16 interceptions and setting the school record with six blocked kicks. He had three defensive touchdowns and accumulated 191 career tackles, 17.5 of which were for a loss.
“My senior year, that’s the year we went up and beat the University of North Dakota,” Holleman recalled. “I had a great career as a free safety and it’s some of the best memories I’ve ever had.”