Quick Wiki

  • Full Name Josh Heupel
  • Mother Dawn Heupel
  • Father Ken Heupel
  • Sister Andrea Heupel (Married to former U.S. representative Dan Boren)
  • Relationship Status Married
  • Wife Dawn Heupel
  • Past Relationship Status Unknown
  • [Ex-Girlfriends] Unkown
  • Sexual Orientation Heterosexual (straight)
  • Beliefs On Religion Christian

Football Coach Josh Heupel’s Family Support Played A Key Role In His Enigmatic Early Sporting Drive

Young Josh Heupel was such a talent who turned his drive for the game of football into a lifelong ambition. But what role did his family play in his success?


While many people take decades to pursue their life goals, some are born with the innate drive they showcase since childhood. Still, there are a few early bloomers like Josh Heupel who can sustain their success by nurturing their rare talent through passion, dedication, and values.

For Heupel, a Heisman Trophy winner and experienced football coach at the University of Tennessee, his early values stem from his early life experiences with his religious Christian family. As he was growing up, his parents saw him eager to hit the football field as early as age 3. They, after that, played an inspiring role in integrating him into football culture, but on their terms.

Especially his father, who tried to instill a fierce work ethic in his young son. As 3-year-old Josh asked his father, Ken, then-coach of Aberdeen High School, to take him to the team football practices, he got a clear message, “Now, son, if you come to practice, I can’t have you messin’ around.”

Similarly, Josh’s mother, Cindy, was also equally supportive. At one time, she brought Josh from daycare and let him drop over an iron fence of a football field. Later, she even nodded to travel 100 miles to just watch her son every football game after he joined Oklahoma - he would eventually lead the team to an undefeated season and also become runner up for the Heisman trophy in 2000.

Most of all, they supported and believed in their son, who showed many “it” moments growing up, from wanting to learn the game, sharing his strong opinion on its technical aspects, showcasing his spectacular ball throwing skills to announcing he would be joining NFL and help less fortunate young souls one day.

The support from the parents gradually bore fruits. Josh would actively participate in his dad’s intensive game plans as soon as he could run. “He sat in on team meetings, watched game films, interacted with the players, was a ball boy. No matter what football program I was with, whether it was high school or college, Josh was always there, and never once did I have to say, ‘Josh, quit messin’ around,” Ken shares to Orlando magazine in 2018.

Now, as a successful player and coach, Josh is known for his “family approach” to team management. Not only in his personal life, but he also values relationships professionally and thinks that it is super important to build closer ties with the players. Perhaps, just like his father and mother’s positive relationship with him.  

"I think it’s the power of one, that one person can make an impact that changes the course of someone’s life. We talk about having real relationships. If you have that, they accept coaching in a different way,” he says. “And that’s the greatest thing about this game to me. People use the word coach, but we’re really teachers. We teach the game, but we’re teaching life lessons through it.

Josh has also tried his best to merge a sporting culture with his children. “At our house, it’s like the Heupel Olympics,” his loving wife, Dawn, proclaims. He also shares a close bond with his athletic wife, a sports enthusiast who played volleyball and basketball in college. She is an architecture graduate who has done brilliantly to manage their households while seemingly sacrificing her own career.

During his Intro Presser in 2021 as the new Tennessee head coach, Josh shares exactly how his wife has been important to his life. "I also want to take this time to thank my wife Dawn, who's been my co-pilot in life. She's probably piloting most of the time when I'm at the office," he explains. 

Talking to Orlando magazine in 2018, Dawn relates the warm dynamics between Heupel and their daughter. She adds. “My daughter is the biggest game person, and she’s always roping Josh into these four-hour games of Monopoly.” Because of how Hannah can melt her dad’s heart, he sometimes lets her win, but rarely.”

Their daughter, Hannah, watches football games with Josh and asks questions about his play-calls.

The coach’s experiences with his son are more his childhood-alike. Like his father, Ken did, he has been feeding his son the lessons of perseverance. Dawn relates, “Sometimes I look out the window and see Jace on the ground crying,” Dawn says. “And Josh is telling him to get up and finish the game. And Jace is saying he’s done. And Josh is telling him that he has to finish what he started. As a mother, that’s sometimes tough to watch. But there are lessons there that he’s teaching.”

And Josh has not let his children see himself just as an accomplished sportsperson who has achieved everything. Rather, he has tried to keep his children interested in them. He thinks his children must have a good relationship with his team. That is evident from how the children have turned out.  In his own words,

The best part of it is our kids—name the activity and they are into it. My daughter—it’s dance, piano, artistic. Any sport she can get her hands on she will play . . . basketball, volleyball, golf, tennis. My hope for her is that she finds her passion. She is the most competitive person I’ve ever met, which is saying something. She got the best of that from her mom and dad. My son is into baseball, football, basketball, and he plays a little bit of golf and swims, too.

According to Josh, Hannah set out a day to serve the players once a year. “My daughter, during training camps, she picks a day every year, and she loves to cook, just has grown that way, and she will bake treats for the players and just want to be part of it, too,” he shares.

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