by Anselmo Watkins
In the last 25 years, Axmead College Head Football Coach Brett Killman has won over 230 games and led his teams to seven Great Northern Pine League Championships and three NCAA Division III post-season appearances. His booming basso-profondo voice is well known in football stadiums across the Northern United States.
But in the football community, the 61-year-old Killman was also known for his unique e-mails – e-mails always written in all-capitals.
But what is believed to be a fifteen-plus year streak of all-caps e-mails came to an end Friday when Killman received a long-overdue computer upgrade and Axmead IT techs demonstrated that the caps lock could be turned off.
“I got that new machine, and it was all shiny and new. Then, I sat down to type an e-mail to a recruit and it just didn’t look right. The words looked small, weak,” Killman said. “I thought the damn thing was broken. My assistant heard me cussing and came in to ask what was wrong.”
When IT personnel unearthed the old computer, they discovered the caps lock button had been stuck in place by a sticky residue thought to be tobacco spit. The caps lock indicator light on the keyboard had long since burned out.
Killman said that he realized his e-mails looked different than ones he received, but he never had thought much about them.
“I just typed. I hunt and peck, and click the send button. Didn’t have much use for any of the other things the machine could do,” he said. “I’d seen them other e-mails and such written in that lower case, but I just thought it was a different look. It never occurred to me that big letters was something I could turn off. I never really wanted to.”
“Coach isn’t the most technical guy in the world. He relies on his assistants to do that sort of stuff,” said Assistant Coach Art Hamburger. “I think he might have been running a 486. I know it could barely run the most basic e-mail program and Word. But it worked for him, and he didn’t know any better to complain about it.”
Members of the Griffins football program had no idea the all-caps e-mails were purely an accident.
“Coach Killman is really loud. So, I just naturally thought that he was just trying to sound like himself – you know, yelling,” said senior free safety Eddie Donnals. “I’ve been here for five years and it just seemed really natural.”
“I had gotten some e-mails over the years that said ‘stop yelling,’ but I thought they were talking about me on the football field. And I wasn’t about to stop doing that. You gotta yell. You gotta let your men know that you care. Now I understand that they were talking about my e-mails,” he said.
Killman said that the wayward caps lock key also helps to explain some awkward online moments.
“Several years ago I sent a condolence e-mail to one of our ex-players after his father passed away. He stopped coming to our homecomings after I sent it and I was never sure why. Now, I think I know,” Killman said.