Rushford's Steve Heiden lands job as tight ends coach with Detroit Lions
After spending the last 10 seasons as a coach with the Arizona Cardinals, Rushford's Steve Heiden has been named the tight ends coach of the Detroit Lions.
ROCHESTER — After spending the past 10 seasons as an NFL coach with the Arizona Cardinals, Rushford native Steve Heiden is moving into the same division as the Minnesota Vikings.
The Cardinals coaching staff was let go following a 4-13 record in 2022, but it didn’t take Heiden long to find a new job. He has been hired as the tight ends coach for the Detroit Lions, the same job he held with the Cardinals for the past four seasons.
“I think I landed in a good place,” Heiden said. “I know some of the coaches here well and obviously kind of seen from afar what they’ve done and how they’ve grown this program and what it’s going to become."
The Lions, under head coach Dan Campbell, appear to be on the rise. They have a strong nucleus of young talent and have two picks in both the first and second rounds of the upcoming 2023 draft. After a 1-6 start, the Lions surged in 2022 to finish 9-8, second in the NFC North Division behind the Vikings.
“There’s some good energy around here,” Heiden said.
Heiden got to Detroit last Monday to begin scouting current free agents and players coming into the draft. He mostly scouts tight ends.
“You have to make sure you have a good feel for all of those guys,” he said.
He is also learning the Detroit offense before the players arrive for spring camps.
In Arizona, Heiden spent his first five years coaching from the press box. His last five years were spent on the sidelines. Being a position coach, he most likely will be on the sidelines with the Lions.
“We’re still trying to get a feel for each other,” Heiden said. “They’ve got to get a feel for where I fit best.”
Heiden is a 1995 graduate of Rushford High School. He was a standout football and basketball player for the Trojans before playing college football at South Dakota State University. He then played 11 seasons in the NFL for the San Diego Chargers and Cleveland Browns.
He tries to get home to Rushford at least once during the summer. He and his family also own a cabin on Leech Lake so he spends a lot of the time in the summer there.
Former Rushford-Peterson boys basketball coach Tom Vix and several others visited and stayed with Heiden during the 2022 NFL season.
“Tom’s the best and is still a good friend of mine,” Heiden said.
Heiden and his wife, Jessica, have three children, two girls and a boy, ages 15, 12 and 6. He said his family will remain in Arizona until the 2022-23 school year is over before moving to Michigan.
“I’m excited to get to work and it will be a new chapter for me and my family,” Heiden said.
Austin High School has inducted six new members to its Hall of Fame class in 2023.
The inductees include Warren “Pete” Lade of the class of 1929. He played football, baseball and basketball and earned 11 letters. He later served in World War II.
Others from the 2023 class include:
• Debbie (Diggins) Van Leeuwen (1978) who played softball and volleyball and competed in state tournaments in both sports. She helped the softball team place second in the state in 1977.
• Pat Landherr (1979) was a standout football player for the Packers who set school records for most tackles in a game and season. He went on to play college ball at Austin Community College and Macalester College.
• Dean Diggins (1983) earned three letters each in basketball and softball. She capped Austin’s unbeaten 1981 softball season by driving in the winning run in the state championship game. She later excelled as a pitcher at Emporia State University.
• Beau Webber (2003) was a four-time All-Conference selection as a diver. He capped his standout career by winning a Class A state title in 2003.
• Lynn Gulbrandson was the girls swimming and diving coach for 34 years at Austin and the boys coach for 33 years, winning numerous honors along the way. He was the Class A girls Coach of the Year in 2002.
Guy N. Limbeck is a sports writer for the Post Bulletin. His Local Notebook appears each Tuesday. He can be reached at email@example.com .