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Monday, December 24, 2012

A No-Brainer: Dan Imdieke Inducted into N. Dakota HOF

A No-Brainer: Dan Imdieke Inducted into N. Dakota HOF

I have received word that my friend Dan Imdieke of Linton, ND has been selected for induction into the North Dakota High School Athletic Hall of Fame. The induction ceremony will take place next July.

Linton Head Coach Dan Imdieke
Imdieke has spent his entire career of 37 years teaching and coaching at Linton High School, the last 36 as the head football coach. His football teams have won 303 games for an incredible winning percentage of over 82%. Under Imdieke’s steady hand the Lions have won 19 regional championships and placed second 10 times. Linton has advanced to the state championship game 12 times under Imdieke, winning five. Imdieke has been named state coach of the year four times. He has endured only one losing season.

In a day and age when coaches seem to swap schools as often as the rent is due, Imdeike is a throwback, accomplishing what today is almost the impossible, coaching longevity. By facing the fire on the football field every fall Friday night while coaching three generations of the best this small town has to offer, Imdieke has earned the town’s trust. Year after year he has willingly accepted the knee shaking responsibility of leading the community’s most treasured jewel, the Linton Lions, onto the Friday night battlefields of small town North Dakota.

Residents of North Dakota, I have found, are slow in acceptance of outsiders. Reserved would be a polite and accurate descriptor. Open public displays of affection are not part of the pioneering spirit that runs deeply embedded in the blood line of those who live on the High Plains. A retired farmer, once the mayor of Linton, told me over breakfast one morning that “married folks around here will not even hold hands in public until they have had at least a couple of kids.”

Against such a backdrop of reservation, the old coaches’ greatest achievement may well be his earning the acceptance of this small and tight knit community, the once stranger now labeled as “one of us”.  Over time, Imdieke has seen the mercenary tag of an ‘outsider” removed, settling into an accepting community where he has raised his own family.

In Lion Land, Imdieke is the head football coach, head wrestling coach, athletic director, drives the bus to all away games, stocks and supervises the concessions stands at all games and is in charge of field maintenance, which includes the summer “vacation” months. He also sets up the gym for volleyball and basketball games. I looked up his salary one time - it is public record - but out of respect for the privacy of a private man, I will not reveal it here, but let me say, Linton; you are getting one hell of a deal. In what I took as an incredible clueless act by a school board member (I have seen many over the years), this fall one of the Linton School Board members publically (I read it in the Linton newspaper) questioned why Imdieke was paid extra to take care of the field. Lady, you don’t have a clue.

In the fashion begetting of a second hand lion; an aging warrior not quite yet ready to bid the glory of the battlefield good bye, Dan Imdieke, in the twilight of a storied career, is still very much on top of his game. I spent the 2011 season following his team. The Lions were not all that talented and each Friday night seemed to be on the verge of collapse, but somehow Imdieke’s team always found a way to win. Despite all the logic I attempted to apply, I could never quite figure out how. When the final gun was fired, week after week, Linton was on the winning side of the scoreboard, often when late in the game their cause appeared to be lost, their chance for victory hopeless. The Lions finished the season with a 10-2 record and a second place state trophy. They trailed in the second half on the scoreboard in seven of the ten games they won.

Coach Imdieke passed a seldom reached mile stone this past fall, winning his 300 game. I was fortunate to be in attendance at the game. In a state that only allows for 8 games in the regular season, that is quite an accomplishment. Is this a good time to step aside? I hope not, because trust me on this one, after 37 years, the man can  with out a doubt still coach.


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