Trinity Center to host Skip Hall on Sunday afternoon

Merle “Skip” Hall (bottom) recently released a new book about his coaching career. Among his highlights was coaching the University of Washington football team at the Rose Bowl (above fourth from the left). 

By Chad Koenen


From the tiny streets of Henning to the roar of the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, Calif., Skip Hall has seen it all during his illustrious coaching career. The one-time Henning football and boys basketball coach will be making a return to Henning on Sunday as part of a book signing ceremony at the Trinity Center. The book signing of Hall’s new book “Coach ‘Em Up” will take place from 1:30-3 p.m. on Sunday. The event is open to the public and free to attend. 

Throughout the event there will be a number of special guests from Concordia College, as well as former students from Henning High School that Hall coached in college.

Several pages of Hall’s new book, which detail his nearly 30 year coaching career, are dedicated to his time in Henning. Just 10 years after coaching in Henning, Hall would find himself coaching in the Rose Bowl at some of the top colleges in the country.

“The message is about the power of influence and encouragement and how that can change lives. It’s about coaching people up and not down,” said Hall of his book earlier this year. “I’m really pleased with the finished product.”

Hall’s book was officially released last September and he was pleased by the end result. The idea of writing a book came from a person in Boise, Idaho who had heard the longtime coach speak. The writer was inspired by his message and encouraged Hall to share his message of hope and inspiration with others.

“She heard me speak several times and she grabbed me one day and said you really need to write a book. You need to put some of this stuff on paper,” said Hall. “When the pandemic hit that was the opportunity to sit down and really dive into writing this book.”

A foreword in the book was written by current University of Alabama head coach Nick Saban and shares a story about how the power of influence and encouragement changes lives. 

“I think it is a very enjoyable book. It is easy to read and it is real life,” he said. “It is speaking from the heart.”

Hall was the head football and boys basketball coach in Henning from 1966-68. During his tenure in Henning, Hall’s football teams went 23-1 overall thanks to some out of the box thinking and several talented players like Bob Bjorklund, Gerald Brutlag, Stan Eckhoff and Randy Guse. 

“They had a great work ethic and they were teachable. They wanted to learn, they were all ears and they wanted to win,” Hall said of the players in Henning. 

During his third year at Henning High School, Hall felt a tug to get his master’s degree and coach college football. He applied to the master’s program at four universities including Arizona, Arizona State, Colorado and Colorado State. When he was accepted into the master’s program at the University of Colorado, Hall decided to make the jump to the Pac 8 Conference in college and the family moved from Henning to Boulder, Colo.

“After our time in Henning, I wanted to see what the college scheme was like in football and I was hooked,” he said of his time at the University of Colorado. 

  Following his three year stint at Henning School, Hall coached Division I football at the University of Colorado and then at Kent State. 

He went on to serve as the assistant head coach to legendary coach Don James at the University of Washington for 12 years, before becoming the head coach at Boise State University from 1987-92. He finished his coaching career as an associate head coach at the University of Missouri.

One of his most memorable moments of coaching was in 1978 when the University of Washington Huskies defeated the Michigan Wolverines in the Rose Bowl. The Huskies were big underdogs, but the Pac 8 Conference champions defeated the heavily favored Big Ten Champions who were led by legendary coach Bo Schembechler by a score of 27-20. There were over 105,000 people in attendance at the football game that day and the Huskies were led by future Hall of Fame quarterback Warren Moon. 

During his football coaching career, Hall was part of 12 bowl games. His teams won seven of those games, including three Rose Bowls.

He also had the opportunity to coach, or mentor, some of the biggest names in professional and college coaching today including Nick Saban, Gary Pinkel, Jim Mora Jr., Jim Zorn, Chuck Pagano, Jim Fleming and Jay Mills.

“We had a lot of good people that we worked with and a lot of great players along the way for sure,” said Hall of his coaching career.

Hall currently resides in Boise where he lives near family and grandchildren. His book is available on Amazon, as well as