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Where are they now? - Ray Hitchcock discusses business, Cretin and love for the U

06/18/2009, 12:00am CDT
By Rob Litt

Where Are They Now?

Ray Hitchcock is a passionate man. Whether it's his family, his career, his love for football or all things Gopher sports, Hitchcock's passion is contagious. And it's no surprise that this passion has produced a loving and close family, a successful real estate career, a football playing career that included two bowl games with the Gophers and a Super Bowl ring with the Washington Redskins, and a career that now includes a long stint as a line coach at Cretin-Derham Hall.

Hitchcock had only one D1 scholarship offer coming out of St. Paul Johnson High School, but it was the only offer he wanted as the lifelong Gopher fan fulfilled a dream as a Gopher. His career included playing for three different head coaches, but also two bowl games and the opportunity to block for two Gopher legends in Rickey Foggie and Darrell Thompson.
Hitchcock's collegiate career led to the NFL and a proud member of the 1987 Super Bowl champions, Washington Redskins. After two reconstructive knee surgeries in an 18 month time span, Hitchcock retired and began a successful residential real estate career that continues to thrive. Through it all, Hitchcock has remained fiercely loyal to Gopher football"”a program that is ingrained in his core and a love and passion for the maroon and gold that is evident the minute he starts talking.

GopherHole recently had the chance to catch up with Hitchcock to talk about his Gopher career, his love for real estate, serving as an assistant on a Cretin team that includes his son and of course his deep-rooted passion for Gopher football.

For more information on Ray
Hitchcock's real estate services,
please visit his web site:
GH: Out of HS, what was it that attracted you to Minnesota?

Hitchcock: Minnesota was my only D1 scholarship offer which made it the most attractive opportunity. As a St. Paul Johnson grad. I got to stay at home and fulfill a dream. I would have gone to Minnesota no matter what.

GH: You played for three head coaches during your career. Was this difficult?

Hitchcock: It wasn't ideal, but as a group we persevered through all of the change. I have great respect for Coach Salem and it's too bad that it didn't work out for him. His last season he played a lot of young guys which was hard. It was a learning process as I started 11 games as a freshman which helped down the road. We had it going in the right direction and we went from 1-10 to back-to-back bowl games as a senior. The one thing that was encouraging was that I had the same position coach in Jim Huber for my sophomore, junior and senior seasons and he was a great coach and influence on me and we are lifelong friends now.

GH: How did you like blocking for Rickey Foggie and Darrell Thompson?

Hitchcock: You certainly look like a better lineman with those two in the backfield. I played with Rickey for three years and Darrell one. They were both great players and made our job easier. I also got to play with some other great lineman who made me look better.

GH: After Minnesota, you had a chance to play in the NFL with Washington "“ what was that experience like?

Hitchcock: It was fun "“ we won the Super Bowl my rookie year. I enjoyed living out there and living out a dream. And then I had both knees reconstructed within 18 months.

GH: Where has your post Gopher career taken you?

Hitchcock: After my football career was over I went back and finished my degree at The U and have been selling residential real estate ever since, which is a career I really enjoy as it's a people business and I really enjoy the relationships I get to build. I have been in the Twin Cities area for my entire career and I have benefited from my network here in town and playing here and name recognition helps. Sid is correct that people can have a great career for student athletes who play at the U and stay in the area. It really helps me out and I've told Sid that in person that he's right about that and shouldn't stop saying it. I hope student-athletes take that into consideration when they choose a school.

GH: How do you like your role coaching the line at Cretin?

Hitchcock: I have been doing it for 10 seasons and I enjoy it a lot. It's very rewarding. My son is a WR on the team and it's been fun being around him and watching him develop. It's a hard working and demanding group of student athletes but the kids step up to the challenge. The bar is raised high as we expect to win the Prep Bowl every year and the kids work very hard. It's very rewarding watching young boys come into the program early in high school and leave as mature young adults.

GH: What is limit for a kid like Seantrel Henderson?

Hitchcock: Seantrel is not the first big lineman we've had. We have guys in the NFL and guys playing major college football right now. But his upside is tremendous. I'd love to see him at Minnesota as it would be a great fit for him. Coach Brewster is doing a great job with Seantrel and he's doing a great job with recruiting overall, but Seantrel has a big season ahead of him with high expectations and he doesn't shy away from that. What's nice about having him around is the other guys on the team get noticed as well and that is a positive for everyone.

GH: How much do you or the other Cretin coaches give Seantrel and others advice on their college decision?

Hitchcock: That's a good question. If they ask I'll talk to them about it, but it's unfair to the student athlete for me as their coach to come up to sell Minnesota. If they ask I'll talk for days about it, but it's unfair to start the conversation. But guys know where I stand as I wear Minnesota clothes to practice everyday.

GH: What will TCF Bank Stadium do to the Gopher program and the U campus?

Hitchcock: We had a tour the other night with Coach Brewster and it's a top notch facility. It will help recruiting and the overall experience for all students at the University. Football will be a part of the culture for all students on campus now. I can't wait.

GH: What does Coach Brewster have to do to get the Gophers back to the Rose Bowl?

Hitchcock: Win. It's that simple. His approach is there as well as his commitment to recruiting.

GH: Are there any games as a Gopher player that stick out in your mind more than others?

Hitchcock: Beating Michigan at Michigan in 1986 with Lohmiller's kick late in the game that was a big win. The Liberty Bowl we gave up a late TD to Tennessee and it was the last game of my Gopher career. We had a nice trip to Memphis and that was a lot of fun.

GH: What does it mean to be such a big part of Gopher history?

Hitchcock: It means so much to me and just a few days after Mr. Bye died it's a sober reminder. He was such a huge part of this program and will be missed forever. Gopher football is huge part of my life, my wife's life and our family's life. Many of us live and die by Gopher football. It's impacted me in so many ways - in business and in life. I am very proud to be a part of the program and the University. It's been quite a stepping stone athletically and professionally.

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Tag(s): Where Are They Now?