For this coach’s son, the football field was a special bonding place with dad

By Brittany Harlos | Posted 6/16/2017

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On Sunday, millions of kids across America will celebrate their dads and show how much they appreciate everything they have done for them.

We sat down with Garrett Shea, USA Football managing director, to discuss the impact his father had on his own football career, his life, and his own experience being a dad himself.

Terry Shea has an impressive coaching resume, with stints at the professional, amateur and college level. The former Oregon quarterback became the head coach at Rutgers in 1996. While there, he had the unique opportunity to coach his son Garrett.

Garrett looks back at all the time they spent together during those years at Rutgers and truly cherishes each moment. After his time at Rutgers, Terry coached for several NFL teams and now trains quarterbacks professionally.

Unsurprisingly, at the center of the relationship between Terry and Garrett is football.

“Growing up as a coach’s kid – life is built around football,” said Garrett. “We were always moving and meeting new people.”

He spent countless hours in locker rooms and football fields. The opportunities and people he met growing up is something he will never forget. He carried cords, filled up Gatorade and got to sit in on locker room talks. He even received his first car from Bill Walsh.

Despite the family's close ties with so many people throughout the sport, Terry never pushed Garrett into football.

“I always wanted to play football myself,” Garrett said. “My dad actually pushed soccer because of the footwork and the conditioning. I didn’t play tackle football until my freshmen year of high school.”

Being involved so heavily in football, Garrett had the opportunity to see the day to day operations, pressure, and scrutiny his father went through.

“It was very eye-opening,” said Garrett.

Throughout the coaching grind, Terry made sure he was teaching lessons that extended well beyond the football field.

As a coach, Terry taught strong work ethic and how to be a student of the game. He stressed the importance of not quitting and finishing everything you start. 

“Absolute loyalty” was another key mantra Terry instilled in Garrett and all his players. Whether it be football, teammates or family, Terry valued and displayed loyalty in all of his relationships.

Terry’s positive approach to coaching and life made a big impact on Garrett.

“He is always positive and encourages positive reinforcement,” Garrett said.

Beyond values and character traits, Terry also shared tangible, everyday advice that left its mark on his son.

“Every letter he received from Rutgers, whether good or bad, he would handwrite them a letter back,” said Garrett. “He would always stress that you are never too busy to return a call either.”

The importance of teamwork was yet another important message that Terry imparted to Garrett and all of his players. “It takes 22 legs to score a touchdown” is a quote Terry used that always has stuck with Garrett throughout the years.

It’s more than just quotes, however. Terry cultivated in Garrett countless values that remain with him today, and he often used football as the teaching tool.

“I’ve learned a lot from my dad,” said Garrett, with a smile. “He taught me leadership, accountability and how to be a caring, loving father myself.”

Garrett Shea Terry Shea
One of Garrett’s favorite memories with his dad is fishing with him in the West Carson River in Markleeville, Calif.