Prior to this past Sunday, the most well-known of the Koehler family was Craig Koehler, the head coach for the Concord High School football team.
Now, his 9-year-old son, Caleb, holds that distinction, and it’s all thanks to a mom recording at the right moment, and a little boy’s favorite player making his dream come true.
It started on Sunday, Koehler’s younger son Micah’s seventh birthday.
Mom, Cindy, was recording the birthday festivities on her cell phone, when she asked Caleb if there was one person in the world he could meet, who would it be?
It was a simple question that would turn out to have life-changing results.
Caleb’s answer: His favorite player on his favorite team – Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger.
Cindy asks her son what he would do if Big Ben told him he wanted to hang out with Caleb and play catch. Caleb promptly answers that he would probably hyperventilate and then pass out.
In the video, Cindy tells Caleb she’s going to send it to the QB, to which Caleb replies, “Do it. No risk, no reward.”
She posted the video to Twitter and tagged the Steelers’ account, but didn’t expect it to go anywhere.
“He looked at me and was like do you think he’ll see it?” Cindy Koehler said. “As a mom I was looking at him and he had this hope in his eyes, and I thought there’s not a chance, there’s no chance he was going to see this.”
Cindy was wrong.
The very next day, Ben Roethlisberger posted a grainy, 25-second video inviting Caleb to his football camp in June.
In the video, Roethlisberger says, “I thought it was pretty cool, your ‘No risk, no reward’ I really liked that, so I thought I’d try to reward you.”
Big Ben tagged Cindy in the tweet, and Cindy and Craig watched the video together while their sons played outside.
“I didn’t even know he had a Twitter account,” Craig said.
“I completely freaked out, like ‘Oh my gosh this is a joke, like oh my god, no way, we have to get the kids,'” Cindy said. “I was so excited, like as a mom, to be able to tell him that he made a video for you, I was so excited.”
They then called the boys in and showed them Roethlisberger’s response, and of course captured the reaction.
“They were like ‘Come in quick’ and I was like ‘Am I in trouble?'” Caleb said. “They said ‘Get your Ben Roethlisberger jersey on and I was like ok, so I had no idea what was happening, I was freaking out, and then I saw the video, and I was so shocked I thought I was dreaming.”
It was no dream, and Caleb’s story quickly went viral, being picked up by major media outlets, and Caleb’s classroom.
“The next day the teacher saw it and gave me a hug, and then I said to my friend ‘If you’re wondering why my teacher is giving me a hug it’s because I get to meet Ben Roethlisberger,'” Caleb said. “And he was like, ‘Wait what?'”
“Just to see how happy he’s been, you know, he’s not on social media obviously, he doesn’t see twitter, he doesn’t go on social media, but for him to be able to see him and his brother on tv, and then for me to see how happy he is, like he’s counting down the days to when he actually gets to meet him,” Cindy said.
While that day is still over two months away, Caleb already can’t wait to pick his favorite quarterback’s brain.
“I wanted to be a quarterback when I play football, so hopefully he teaches me how to get a little better at throwing the ball,” Caleb said. “Right now I think I’m pretty good but I hope he can teach me a few more things.”
The camp will take place June 17th at the Steelers’ practice facility in Pittsburgh. The whole family, including Micah, will get to take part.
June 17th also happens to be Father’s Day – fitting since Craig is a lifelong Steelers fan, and passed that fandom onto his sons.