ORLANDO, Fla.-Former Detroit Lakes (Minn.) High School football coach Flint Motschenbacher was sitting on a beach in Fort Myers, Fla., Monday when he got a text from a player he used to coach.
"Hey, coach," the text read, "You want to go to the Pro Bowl?"
It was from Minnesota Vikings wide receiver and 2008 Detroit Lakes graduate Adam Thielen.
Motschenbacher is currently on a three-month trip to Florida, the first time he's been able to take a vacation like that since retiring from coaching and teaching. He retired from coaching in 2015 after 31 years of coaching, 18 of which were as head coach of the Lakers.
"Sure. That'd be a pretty good thing," Motschenbacher responded to Thielen.
As part of the "Thank you, coach!" NFL initiative, each Pro Bowl player is allowed to invite a high school coach who most impacted their life and career. Thielen chose Motschenbacher, and Motschenbacher was told he could bring a guest. He picked his mom, who is a huge Vikings fan.
Motschenbacher had planned all along to drive the 170 miles from Fort Myers to Orlando, get a hotel room and pay for a ticket to see Thielen play. Instead, he was heading to the airport Friday with his mom to take a flight to an all-expenses paid trip to the Pro Bowl.
"It blew me away," Motschenbacher said.
When it was announced Thielen was selected to the Pro Bowl, Motschenbacher congratulated him and told him he'd be in Florida and planned to come see him play, but Motschenbacher hoped Thielen would be in the Super Bowl instead.
Thielen had 91 receptions for 1,276 yards and four touchdowns during 16 games in the regular season. He had nine catches for 102 yards in the two playoff games.
Motschenbacher figured he'd be watching Thielen from the stands at the Pro Bowl. Instead, he and his mom will be staying at the same hotel as the players and he'll be on the field during pregame warmups Sunday.
"It's just exciting to see the kid that set a goal and a dream of playing in the NFL reach that goal," Motschenbacher said. "That's just enough in itself to play in the NFL, but let alone to play at the high level that he did to become a Pro Bowler, it's hard to believe, but if you know Adam it's not."