Jerry Kill tried to make a difference: How Rutgers OC relates overcoming epilepsy to coaching









Jerry Kill is 6 months into Rutgers practices, recruiting cycle, but still feels healthy and is inspiring others with epilepsy through Chasing Dreams Fund

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PISCATAWAY --Jerry Kill sits at his desk staring straight ahead at game film of Washington, but any visitors to his office surely fixate their eyes on the sword mounted on the wall behind him.
It was a coming-out-of-retirement gift from his daughter, and it is no foam sword like the one Rutgers mascot carries in playtime.
It is a four-foot-long sword like the kind used for battle, intended as an homage to becoming a Scarlet Knight but also perfectly appropriate for Kills life as heovercomes epilepsy and outside perceptions of Rutgers.
This is a good fit for me because Im used to turning programs around, Kill told NJ Advance Media. I felt like I could make a difference here. Theres some places I couldnt make a difference. Id just be a part of it.
Im trying to make a difference in the epilepsy world. Im trying to make a difference on the football field with kids. My legacy, I just want people to say, Coach Kill tried to make a difference.
How did Rutgers sports fare in Year of B1G?
Symptoms of epilepsy -- most notably public seizures -- forced Kill into retirement as head coach at Minnesota in October 2015.
Fourteen months later, Kill, 55, returned to coaching as an offensive coordinator, saying he felt better than he had in 12 years. It is seen as a blessing for Rutgers, whichranked near the bottom of the nation in all offensive categories last season.
I think playing for Coach Kill is the best thing thats ever happened,quarterback Giovanni Rescigno said. We want to play hard for him. Its his knowledge and everything he has been through in his life. It inspires me 100 percent.
I think that gives you a little more motivation when you step on the field. You never know when your last play will be, not just in football but in life in general. I think that really rubs off on us.
After five months of grinding in recruiting and installing a playbook in 15 spring practices, Kill says nothing has changed with his health self-assessment.
Im still keeping my weight down, Im still eating right, Im exercising, Kill said. But the most important thing is Im sleeping like I was before I took the job. Its different being a head coach. I only have to worry about one section of the pie, so to speak.
Chasing Dreams
After six months of dipping his toe in the water as an off-field football administrator at Kansas State, the scaled-back duties of a coordinator and his doctors clearance allowed Kill to return to his passion.
Or, if you prefer, to chase his dream.
Chasing Dreams is both the title of Kills biography and the name of the fund he and his wife Rebecca started under the Epilepsy Foundation of Minnesota.
Any time you are the face of the program like I was at Minnesota, you are on a platform, Kill said. We wanted to get involved. I was at a gala one night and said, This is what we are going to do. Its taken off from there. Weve been able to raise a lot of money.

Unlike in his 32-year coaching career, Kill is just getting started. He wants to expand his involvement beyond raising funds and awareness into the research aspect and become more of a national spokesperson.
Its a welcome benefit of moving his life to the East Coast, under a bigger media spotlight and closer to the Washington, D.C.-based headquarters of the Epilepsy Foundation and its President and CEO.
Youve got epilepsy foundations all over the place, Kill said. Were trying to bring them all together more like cancer foundations, where its stronger. In talking with Phil Gattone, thats what he needs me to do.
Chasing Dreams supportsCamp Oz -- an epilepsy-safe environment for boys and girls ages 9-17 entering its 35th year -- and Seizure Smart Schools, which provides classroom education to curb bullying.
Our schedule is brutal, and football is first, Kill said. But in the offseason on Saturdays and Sundays -- I dont have much downtime, thats pretty much who I am -- Ill be helping the national foundation. I got the base laid in Minnesota. Its expanding what were doing.
Ive found ways to do it
In search of future Rutgers quarterbacks, Kill traversed the country by plane and by car over the last month. He was spotted in California and Florida, and reportedly isheaded to South Carolina this week.
I drove by myself, Kill said. Usually, my wife had to travel with me. I feel like Ive made enough progress and I feel comfortable.
On the road, where college coaches often are sustained by quick meals in time crunches, Kill wont sacrifice his diet.
Ill eat a sandwich and I dont eat any bread, Kill said. Ill scrape the stuff off the bread. Ive found ways to do it.
And yet as much as Kills condition is a way of life, its rarely on his day-to-day mind. Rutgers players aware of Kills medical history either researched it on the internet or read his book.
Its not a topic for team meeting rooms.
We definitely have respect for him and what hes done, running back Robert Martin said. He knows how to get on people, and he knows how to pick people up, too. So its not just bad love.
Thats what I like about him. Hes in good spirits. And he wants to win. He wants to win a lot. Thats why we just vibe off him well.
Kill openly discussed his epilepsy withRutgers coach Chris Ash beforeaccepting a three-year contract and he will address it in starting recruiting relationships, but the publicity mostly takes care of any explanations.
I was very close-mouthed about it for a lot of years, Kill said, but I never took a job or did anything without them knowing. Recruiting is the same way. Everyone knows. I tell them. It hasnt made a difference. They get it.
Kill doesnt think he wouldve gained medical clearance to be a head coach again. He didnt ask because he is happy to know his limits.
K-State was the best thing that ever happened for me, Kill said. I tested myself on hours and how I felt. The other 8-9 months before that, I called it rehab. I spent a lot of time in Florida, where its warmer. I walked 10 miles a day and made sure I got my sleep.
I took a nap. I worked on things that I never did before. I knew if I was ever going to get a chance to coach again as an assistant that I had to do all things I hadnt done before.
As much as events like a book signing that raised $200,000 for Chasing Dreams helps the cause, Kill living his normal life might be the most encouraging sign for others with epilepsy. Hes looking forward -- at life and at the film of the defense for Rutgers season-opening opponent.
Im not worried about it. Im not thinking about it, Kill said. There are no do-overs in life. Its like running a football play. You dont get to do it over in a game.
God has given me an opportunity to do this. Im the best Ive been in a long time. As long as I stay on course, Im very confident that Ill be fine. I dont look at it as a risk.
Ryan Dunleavy may be reached at . Follow him on Twitter @rydunleavy. Find Rutgers Football on Facebook.




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Jerry Kill tried to make a difference: How Rutgers OC relates overcoming epilepsy to coaching
3 years ago

http://www.nj.com/rutgersfootball/index.ssf/2017/05/jerry_kill_tried_to_make_a_difference_how_rutgers.html







Jerry Kill is 6 months into Rutgers practices, recruiting cycle, but still feels healthy and is inspiring others with epilepsy through Chasing Dreams Fund

Watch video




PISCATAWAY --Jerry Kill sits at his desk staring straight ahead at game film of Washington, but any visitors to his office surely fixate their eyes on the sword mounted on the wall behind him.
It was a coming-out-of-retirement gift from his daughter, and it is no foam sword like the one Rutgers mascot carries in playtime.
It is a four-foot-long sword like the kind used for battle, intended as an homage to becoming a Scarlet Knight but also perfectly appropriate for Kills life as heovercomes epilepsy and outside perceptions of Rutgers.
This is a good fit for me because Im used to turning programs around, Kill told NJ Advance Media. I felt like I could make a difference here. Theres some places I couldnt make a difference. Id just be a part of it.
Im trying to make a difference in the epilepsy world. Im trying to make a difference on the football field with kids. My legacy, I just want people to say, Coach Kill tried to make a difference.
How did Rutgers sports fare in Year of B1G?
Symptoms of epilepsy -- most notably public seizures -- forced Kill into retirement as head coach at Minnesota in October 2015.
Fourteen months later, Kill, 55, returned to coaching as an offensive coordinator, saying he felt better than he had in 12 years. It is seen as a blessing for Rutgers, whichranked near the bottom of the nation in all offensive categories last season.
I think playing for Coach Kill is the best thing thats ever happened,quarterback Giovanni Rescigno said. We want to play hard for him. Its his knowledge and everything he has been through in his life. It inspires me 100 percent.
I think that gives you a little more motivation when you step on the field. You never know when your last play will be, not just in football but in life in general. I think that really rubs off on us.
After five months of grinding in recruiting and installing a playbook in 15 spring practices, Kill says nothing has changed with his health self-assessment.
Im still keeping my weight down, Im still eating right, Im exercising, Kill said. But the most important thing is Im sleeping like I was before I took the job. Its different being a head coach. I only have to worry about one section of the pie, so to speak.
Chasing Dreams
After six months of dipping his toe in the water as an off-field football administrator at Kansas State, the scaled-back duties of a coordinator and his doctors clearance allowed Kill to return to his passion.
Or, if you prefer, to chase his dream.
Chasing Dreams is both the title of Kills biography and the name of the fund he and his wife Rebecca started under the Epilepsy Foundation of Minnesota.
Any time you are the face of the program like I was at Minnesota, you are on a platform, Kill said. We wanted to get involved. I was at a gala one night and said, This is what we are going to do. Its taken off from there. Weve been able to raise a lot of money.

Unlike in his 32-year coaching career, Kill is just getting started. He wants to expand his involvement beyond raising funds and awareness into the research aspect and become more of a national spokesperson.
Its a welcome benefit of moving his life to the East Coast, under a bigger media spotlight and closer to the Washington, D.C.-based headquarters of the Epilepsy Foundation and its President and CEO.
Youve got epilepsy foundations all over the place, Kill said. Were trying to bring them all together more like cancer foundations, where its stronger. In talking with Phil Gattone, thats what he needs me to do.
Chasing Dreams supportsCamp Oz -- an epilepsy-safe environment for boys and girls ages 9-17 entering its 35th year -- and Seizure Smart Schools, which provides classroom education to curb bullying.
Our schedule is brutal, and football is first, Kill said. But in the offseason on Saturdays and Sundays -- I dont have much downtime, thats pretty much who I am -- Ill be helping the national foundation. I got the base laid in Minnesota. Its expanding what were doing.
Ive found ways to do it
In search of future Rutgers quarterbacks, Kill traversed the country by plane and by car over the last month. He was spotted in California and Florida, and reportedly isheaded to South Carolina this week.
I drove by myself, Kill said. Usually, my wife had to travel with me. I feel like Ive made enough progress and I feel comfortable.
On the road, where college coaches often are sustained by quick meals in time crunches, Kill wont sacrifice his diet.
Ill eat a sandwich and I dont eat any bread, Kill said. Ill scrape the stuff off the bread. Ive found ways to do it.
And yet as much as Kills condition is a way of life, its rarely on his day-to-day mind. Rutgers players aware of Kills medical history either researched it on the internet or read his book.
Its not a topic for team meeting rooms.
We definitely have respect for him and what hes done, running back Robert Martin said. He knows how to get on people, and he knows how to pick people up, too. So its not just bad love.
Thats what I like about him. Hes in good spirits. And he wants to win. He wants to win a lot. Thats why we just vibe off him well.
Kill openly discussed his epilepsy withRutgers coach Chris Ash beforeaccepting a three-year contract and he will address it in starting recruiting relationships, but the publicity mostly takes care of any explanations.
I was very close-mouthed about it for a lot of years, Kill said, but I never took a job or did anything without them knowing. Recruiting is the same way. Everyone knows. I tell them. It hasnt made a difference. They get it.
Kill doesnt think he wouldve gained medical clearance to be a head coach again. He didnt ask because he is happy to know his limits.
K-State was the best thing that ever happened for me, Kill said. I tested myself on hours and how I felt. The other 8-9 months before that, I called it rehab. I spent a lot of time in Florida, where its warmer. I walked 10 miles a day and made sure I got my sleep.
I took a nap. I worked on things that I never did before. I knew if I was ever going to get a chance to coach again as an assistant that I had to do all things I hadnt done before.
As much as events like a book signing that raised $200,000 for Chasing Dreams helps the cause, Kill living his normal life might be the most encouraging sign for others with epilepsy. Hes looking forward -- at life and at the film of the defense for Rutgers season-opening opponent.
Im not worried about it. Im not thinking about it, Kill said. There are no do-overs in life. Its like running a football play. You dont get to do it over in a game.
God has given me an opportunity to do this. Im the best Ive been in a long time. As long as I stay on course, Im very confident that Ill be fine. I dont look at it as a risk.
Ryan Dunleavy may be reached at rdunleavy@njadvancemedia.com. Follow him on Twitter @rydunleavy. Find NJ.com Rutgers Football on Facebook.




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