Inspirational coach comes to Menlo College

January 12, 2012 10:30:06 PM PST
A Bay Area native with an inspirational story is coming home to coach football at Menlo College in Atherton. He has goals and the determination to achieve them.

Mark Speckman posed for the photo ops and talked on point about being Menlo College's new head football coach.

"Wherever I've been, you know, we've won and I think winning in football is important. That the bottom line and probably the way it should be," said Speckman.

His coaching philosophy and indeed his outlook on life are influenced by many things, including the fact that he was born without hands.

"I was one of the youngest people in the United States to get fitted for hooks and at about age 14, going to high school, I said, 'I'm not wearing them ever again' and I haven't worn them since," said Speckman.

Returning to the campus is a homecoming of sorts for coach Speckman. He grew up in Belmont and played two seasons at Menlo College in the early 1970s.

The man who signed him up as a linebacker decades ago was at Thursday's news conference. He shared how Speckman overcome the odds with both dedication and humor.

"The joke for years has been that he was called once for holding, and a 15-yard penalty, and it's been denied, and all that, but I know for a fact he did hold the guy with his forearm down in there," said Ray Solari, the former Menlo College football coach.

Speckman went on to coach football for 34 years, the last 17 at Willamette University in Salem Oregon. He has earned a reputation for his fast-paced offensive maneuvers. Former players rave about both the man and coach.

"He's a genus, he's a genius of the game, right. I mean obviously Jim Harbaugh and the 49ers are using some of his plays this year," said Tony Borba a former Menlo College player and coach.

Speckman's new players say they are eager to embrace his no excuses attitude.

"It's like we are all ready and we're all on board now and we ready to go and start winning games," said Camyar Meshkaty, a Menlo College football player.

There's no question winning is important to coach Speckman, but it's also clear his legacy will be much more.

"As you walk in all these buildings, they are named for somebody who put the money up and I'm not going to be that guy, but as I've learned you can give back to your college in a lot of ways and I think it's important to be a good alum. And so I'm really grateful I have a chance to do this," said Speckman.