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WILDCATS REBORN: Jordan Paopao learned more than just Xs and Os from Chris Petersen

Published: Sep. 23, 2021 at 5:15 PM MST
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TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) - Arizona Wildcats tight ends coach Jordan Paopao spent time under Chris Petersen at the University of Washington.

Paopao said Petersen had a huge impact on him.

“That man changed my life,” Paopao said. “Being able to establish the kind of man that you want to be in society,” Paopao said. “Being able to establish the kind of father, the kind of husband that you want to be.”

Paopao had already been coaching in Washington for three seasons by the time Petersen took over the Huskies.

He stayed on staff at the insistence of a friend who said learning under Petersen would be an incredible opportunity.

That turned out to be an understatement.

“When you know when you see the track record of a head coach like that, how important everything is as a culture, I think those are some of the things that I want to continue to embody and try and instill in my own position room,” Paopao said.

But Petersen’s most important lesson had little to do with on-the-field success.

“I have a son who’s 2 1/2 years old and I have a newborn daughter who’s 3 months old,” Paopao said. “A lot of the times, as a man you really focus on your relationship with your children. I think that’s easy to fall in love with your child and have a strong relationship there.

“But Coach Pete was very insistent that the most important relationship is with your significant other, whoever that may be because then if you have a son, you have a daughter, that’s who they see. That kind of relationship is what they establish as a positive negative or something they’re going to have within the course of their life.”

Paopao took this advice to heart telling KOLD that at the end of the day, he makes sure he and his wife Kristin communicate as best they can. A testament to Petersen, who left a lasting impression.

“If I could land in kind of the stratosphere of what he’s been able to accomplish, not just in success and wins, but just the overall impact emotionally with young men, I think I’ve done a decent job in college football,” Paopao said.

Paopao said one of the reasons he wanted to work for Fisch was because Fisch embodied a lot of the same characteristics as Petersen.

Copyright 2021 KOLD News 13. All rights reserved.