John “Chip” Lohmiller’s life seems to be a combination of two basic elements: football and fire. The Pequot Lakes High School football coach and former NFL player doubles as the Crosslake fire chief.
“I always wanted to be a fireman,” Chip said of joining the Crosslake department. His dad was a firefighter, he said.
Chip joined the department in 1997, and since then he served eight years as captain and two years as assistant chief before becoming the chief about a year ago, when the late Keith Anderson retired.
Crosslake’s department is a volunteer outfit, but working with fire departments is one of Chip’s day jobs. Along with owning a property management company, Chip has spent around 11 years training other firefighters.
This involves practice burns and the education that firefighters need for certain certifications.
He’s also co-chair of the Minnesota Board of Fire Training and Education. That board helps determine standards for educational programs for firefighters.
One of Chip’s most recent projects as fire chief is the ambulance expansion on Crosslake City Hall.
The expansion will allow for another ambulance to be stationed in Crosslake, and the full-time ambulance crew will have separate sleeping quarters for men and women.
Both Crosslake’s ambulance service, North Memorial, and Chip approached the city council to get the ball rolling on the expansion.
Chip said ambulance call numbers are going up, and this way if two calls come in at the same time or one ambulance breaks down, a second is available. He hopes the building expansion will be finished by the end of January.
Perhaps one of Chip’s most notable achievements is winning the Super Bowl in 1991 with the Washington Redskins.
Chip was a second-round draft pick for the Redskins in 1988, after he played for the University of Minnesota for four years and in high school in Woodbury.
He was placekicker, and went to the Super Bowl with the Redskins in 1991.
“It was great, especially winning in my hometown,” he said. The Super Bowl was held in Minneapolis that year, and though his hometown is Woodbury, Chip said he felt right at home.
After playing for the Redskins for seven years, Chip played for the New Orleans Saints for one year and the Rams for one year. He then retired.
“I started bouncing around from team to team and I didn’t want to do that,” Chip said of ending his NFL career. “It was time to be done.”
Among his many football accomplishments, Chip was recently inducted into the Woodbury Hall of Fame.
After many visits to the Crosslake area, Chip purchased a place on Trout Lake in 1989. He said that through his NFL career, he had a place in the Cities but spent most of his time in Crosslake. It was only a matter of time before he became a full-time resident.
Chip has continued his involvement in football by coaching. He got involved with the Pequot Lakes High School team in 2001, and then became head coach in 2004.
“I just enjoy football, and I’ve been playing it for so long it was basically in my blood,” Chip said. “I enjoy the kids and watching them progress, learn, get better and compete.”
Chip loves football, but there is one important question: Which team does he root for during NFL games?
“I root for the Redskins, but of course I’m a Vikings fan at heart,” he said.
But, he added, “If Washington’s playing the Vikings, I root for the Redskins.”