Dale Mueller will be honored twice next week for successful high school football coaching career

By Terry Boehmker
NKyTribune sports reporter

After closing the book on his highly successful football coaching career 11 years ago, Dale Mueller has enjoyed spending time with his 10 grandchildren too much to miss the game that his life once revolved around.

“I hang out with them as much as I can,” Mueller said of his grand kids. “I don’t really consider it babysitting because it’s really as much fun for me as it is for them. I just love being around them.”

Former Highlands football coach Dale Mueller, left, and his friend, Chuck Keller, have been singing at local coffee houses and bars as the Chalk Brothers. (Photo provided)

Mueller compiled a 309-67 record over his 29-year head coaching career. He spent his last 20 years at Highlands, where his teams won 250 games and 11 state championships. But most of his grandchildren are too young to know that’s why he’s being honored twice next week.

On Sunday, Mueller will be one of seven persons inducted into Buddy LaRosa’s High School Sports Hall of Fame. Four days later, he will serve as grand marshal of the Fort Thomas 4th of July Parade.

Mueller, 69, should be comfortable in front of the big crowds at both events. He and another former teacher, Chuck Keller, have become a singing duo known as the Chalk Brothers who perform at local coffee houses and bars.

“We sing a lot of old stuff, a lot of Beatles, Cat Stevens, John Denver and whatever else we think of,” Mueller said. “And I have an absolute ball doing it.” 

In his Hall of Fame induction speech on Sunday, Mueller plans to give credit to the players who were responsible for his remarkable 82.1 winning percentage as a head football coach.  

“I’m getting in a hall of fame because we won a lot of games, but we won a lot of games because we had great players,” he said. “I’m extremely honored, but it’s the players that win the games.”

Dale Mueller retired from coaching to spend more time with his grandchildren. He took three of them to a Reds game with his wife, Patty, and brother, Dan. (Photo provided)

Mueller grew up in Fort Thomas. He earned varsity letters in football and baseball and continued his baseball career at Cornell University in New York.

He graduated with a degree in mechanical engineering. After working in that field for four years, he decided he wanted to become a teacher, like his mother.

He and his wife, Patty, were living in Pittsburgh at that time. He was going to return to college to get an education degree before he was offered an emergency teaching certificate to join the faculty at Newport High School.    

“My wife was just awesome,” Mueller recalled. “She said, ‘You want to do this, let’s go give it a try,’ even though it was a substantial cut in money.”

Mueller started coaching football with the middle school team at Newport. Four years later, he got his first head coaching job at Withrow High School in Cincinnati and then took charge of the Sycamore High School team in Ohio.

In 1994, he retuned to Highlands as head coach of the Bluebirds. His teams had five undefeated seasons, an 11-3 record in state championship games and were nationally ranked eight times.

Dale Mueller was named Coach of the Year by the National Federation of State High School Associations after his final season in 2013. (Photo provided)

After his final season in 2013, Mueller was named Coach of the Year by the National Federation of State High School Associations. He was inducted into the Kentucky High School Athletic Association Hall of Fame in 2022.

“When I get into any Hall of Fame, it’s a little embarrassing,” Mueller said. “I’d say to a linebacker, ‘Bust through that double-team and knock down that 230-pound running back even though you only weigh 170 pounds.’ It’s a lot easier to stand on the sideline and do that than be the guy who actually goes out and does it.”   

After his retirement, Mueller said he helped with a youth football camp one summer and was a guest speaker for several teams. Other than that, his only involvement with the sport has been as a fan.

He was excited to see the Highlands football team make it to Class 5A state semifinals last season and said he’s looking forward to the 2025 season when the Bluebirds will be district rivals with Covington Catholic once again.

“It’s just a fun rivalry between Highlands and CovCath and after next year they’ll be back in the same district, which I love,” he said.

During the 4th of July parade, Mueller will be wearing a t-shirt designed by one of his daughters that has “Team Grandpa” printed across this front. His wife, brother, two sons, two daughters and 10 grand kids will also be wearing those t-shirts to celebrate the head of their family who was also a successful head coach. 

“I’d say high school coaches, the vast majority of them, are really trying to do a great job for young people,” Mueller said. “In my case, I think I’ve gotten a little too much credit, and in a lot of other cases they don’t get enough credit.”


2 thoughts on “Dale Mueller will be honored twice next week for successful high school football coaching career

  1. Your Hall of fame is growing a great family and the impact you have on players lives. Trophies get dusty, the impact never fades. All the best Dale!!

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