Behind every great college football coach there is an even more elite spouse, and that is certainly the case with new Gophers coach P.J. Fleck with his wife Heather. The “first lady” of Gopher football has the energy and passion to match her enthusiastic husband and Heather Fleck is going to be an important part in helping shape the Gophers’ new culture.
GopherHole’s Nadine Babu caught up with Heather Fleck on National Signing Day to learn more about her background and her excitement to be in the Twin Cities.
GopherHole: Tell me about your first couple of weeks here. Has it been crazy?
Heather Fleck: It’s been a whirlwind. I wouldn’t call it crazy because this is just how we work. If we aren’t doing a million things then we wouldn’t know what to do. It’s been exciting, stressful, fun and we’ve met so many amazing people, but the best way to describe it is a whirlwind.
GopherHole: What conversations went on between you and PJ to decide whether to take this job?
Heather Fleck: Minnesota is one of those jobs we always talked about. You hear about Minnesota Nice and the institution, it’s such an elite institution, an elite campus. It screams PJ Fleck with what he can do with the facilities. There was nothing about it that made us pause. We are used to the cold. Everything about this was a no-brainer to us.
GopherHole: How do you manage with four kids?
Heather Fleck: We have a very amazing nanny. We have a 9 year old boy, a 7 year old boy, a four year old girl and a three year old girl. It’s organized chaos, it’s a lot of fun. During the season we spend a lot of time in the coaches office, the kids are around.
GopherHole: What kind of “first lady” of Gopher football do you want to be?
Heather Fleck: I will do whatever is needed. I want to get involved in the Childrens Hospital here. I am open to anything.
GopherHole: What is your favorite part of Minneapolis so far?
Heather Fleck: The fact that there is so much do to here. There are so many great places to eat. There is the Mall of America, so many sports. There is never a dull moment. I haven’t spent a ton of time exploring yet, we’ve been house hunting and recruiting. We’ll slow down a bit now.
GopherHole: What is the timeline with moving?
Heather Fleck: My first nine days here I went house hunting, we put an offer in on a house. We are in temporary housing now but we will be in a permanent house in the middle of March.
GopherHole: How involved are you in the football side of things?
Heather Fleck: Very, I am very involved. We watch film at home. I rarely miss a practice. I get to know these kids like they are my own. I am very involved there is not a day I am not at the facility at some point, whether it is making cookies for the staff or with the kids at the office. I wouldn’t want it any other way.
GopherHole: Coach has a ton of energy. How does he sleep?
Heather Fleck: We’ve gotten used to going on 4-5 hours of sleep. He does slow down, but he doesn’t have an off-switch. He wakes up like this, goes to bed like this, he has constant energy. Even if we go fishing he couldn’t catch enough fish. We’re both competitive by nature. If he does slow down its rare and it’s only a couple of notches.
GopherHole: Tell me about you two, how did you meet?
Heather Fleck: We meet in Kalamazoo through a friend that kind of set us up. It was one of those deals where we went to dinner and it was a love at first site. I recruited him a bit. He’s my best recruit!
GopherHole: What else will Coach bring to the program that will shock Minnesota a bit?
Heather Fleck: The energy, the serving the community, the culture of the players on how they walk, how they talk, how they dress. PJ is here to shape boys into men.
GopherHole: Has there been any obstacles with being a father and mother figure with you being young?
Heather Fleck: Not at all, we can relate to them. It’s been advantageous for us.