Cradle of CoachingThis weekend, the city of New England celebrates its 125th anniversary. Over the years, the small southwestern North Dakota town has become known in the state’s athletic circles as the hometown of many successful coaches.
By: Dustin Monke, The Dickinson Press
This weekend, the city of New England celebrates its 125th anniversary. Over the years, the small southwestern North Dakota town has become known in the state’s athletic circles as the hometown of many successful coaches. Over the past two weeks, Press Sports Editor and New England High School graduate Dustin Monke spoke with many of those coaches about their experiences growing up in the town, or passing through it, and how it led to the development of their careers. While nearly 100 names came up in the discussions, below is a list of nine successful coaches who got their start as student-athletes at either New England Public or New England St. Mary’s.
The 1988 New England St. Mary’s graduate went on to helm the Dickinson High baseball program and led the Midgets to three of their four state championships (2001, 2007 and 2009). In 2004, Dickinson won a state title while Dobitz was serving a tour of duty in Iraq with the North Dakota Army National Guard. He was named the state’s Class A baseball coach of the year in 2002 when the Midgets finished as the state runner-up.
Flyberg graduated from New England Public in 1979 and went on to be an assistant coach at New England St. Mary’s for four seasons when they reached the state tournament (1984, 1985, 1986, 1987), including the 1986 season when the Saints won the Class B state championship. After leaving New England, Flyberg settled in Linton where he led the Lions to seven state tournaments (1995, 1997, 2000, 2001, 2003, 2004, 2006) and 17 regional championship game appearances. He was named Class B girls basketball coach of the year for the 1998 season. In his 25 seasons as a head and assistant basketball coach, Flyberg’s teams compiled a 493-123 overall record. At Linton, his teams were 372-92.
Gordon, a 1972 New England Public graduate, led the Dickinson Trinity football team to state championships in 2000, 2001 and 2005. His teams finished as state runner-up in 2002, 2003, 2004 and 2006. Gordon was named state coach of the year in the 1997, 2001 and 2003 seasons. Entering his 26th season as a head football coach at Trinity and Killdeer — where he spent his first nine seasons — Gordon has won 234 games.
The 1985 graduate of New England Public, Jeske led future NFL tight end Jim Kleinsasser and the Carrington Cardinals to a Class B boys basketball state championship in 1995. As the head girls basketball coach at Bismarck Century, Jeske led his teams to one state runner-up finish (2005) and four third-place finishes. He was awarded Class A girls basketball coach of the year in 2003 and 2005. Jeske retired from coaching after the 2007 season with a 269-121 career record.
The 1974 New England St. Mary’s graduate was a part the Minot wrestling program for 25 years and retired as Minot High’s head coach in 2009 after 13 seasons. Krebs led Minot to a state dual tournament runner-up finish in 2003. In 2001, he was named USA Wrestling Junior Person of the Year and spent several years as the state chairperson for North Dakota’s USA Wrestling chapter.
A 1972 graduate of New England Public, Olson went on to lead the Beulah boys basketball team to five Class B state tournaments. The Miners’ best finish came in 1996, when they lost to May-Port-CG in the state title game. Olson also coached Beulah to a Class A state football title in 1989 and led the boys golf team to a Class B championship in 1999.
Schatz, a 1970 New England Public graduate, spent one winless season at Ellendale before returning to his hometown, where he helmed one of the top 9-man football programs in North Dakota history. In 27 seasons, Schatz led the Tigers to a 203-61 overall record and four state championships (1988, 1995, 1996 and 1997). Between 1995 and 1998, New England-Regent won 47 consecutive games, setting a national 9-man record that stood until 2009.
Schroeder, a 1961 New England St. Mary’s graduate, Schroeder took teams to the Class B boys basketball state tournament in four different decades. He led Belfield in 1978, 1980 and 1986, with the 1978 and 1986 Bantam teams placing second. He won his only state championship with Standing Rock in 1998 and led the Warriors back to state in 2002.
As Dickinson High’s head cross country coach, Schwartz’s teams dominated the state landscape in the early 2000s. He led the Dickinson girls to five consecutive Class A state championships (2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004) and coached the boys to their only state title in 2000. A 1969 New England public graduate, Schwartz was named Class A coach of the year three times, in 1998, 1999 and 2001.