Heart of a Champion: Milford football coach returns after major surgery

Milford head football coach returns after major surgery
Published: Sep. 2, 2022 at 11:37 AM EDT
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MILFORD, Ohio (WXIX) - The Milford Eagles’ head football coach is back on the sidelines after heart problems sidelined him for the start of the season.

Tom Grippa is constant energy. He has been a head coach for more than three decades.

At 66 years old, he will tell that he can still bench 225 - three sets of ten.

So, when Tom lost that energy several months ago, he knew something was wrong.

He did not know how serious it was, though.

Goalpost to goalpost, sideline to sideline, the football field is a special place for Tom. For the past month, he has been away from that sanctuary.

“It was brutally hot,” Tom recalls the feeling he had last month. “I had some chest discomfort right in my sternum.”

The football coach was unconvinced he needed to see a doctor. That was until his son, Jimmy, urged his dad to get checked out.

“I was able to talk to my mom and ask her about it,” Jimmy explained. “He was keeping a secret at home about his chest pain. She called the doctor and got him in that same day.”

That is when Tom realized how serious his heart problem was.

The surgery took nearly three hours with three stents to keep the lifeblood of the Milford Eagles football team pumping blood to and from his heart.

“I feel lucky,” Tom says. “If I had kept going, I could have had the big one. That would’ve been bad.”

Less than a month from his surgery, Tom is back on the football field. Back in his happy place, with his son coaching the defense.

It was Jimmy who led Milford to a 2-0 start while his dad was sidelined.

“There’s a few things my dad loves in this world: football, his family and his job teaching,” Jimmy says. “The best thing I could do was keep the team moving forward.”

Back on the sideline, the Grippa family and the Milford family are back to full strength with the heart of a champion.

When Tom returns to the field Friday to lead his Eagles onto the field against Loveland, he will try to accomplish something Milford has not done since 2008: start 3-0.

Friday’s game at Milford kicks off at 7 p.m.

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