Runs in the familyRod and Tim Oksendahl aren’t strangers taking the football field together.
By: Royal McGregor, The Dickinson Press
Rod and Tim Oksendahl aren’t strangers taking the football field together.
However, this time the father and son are coaching side-by-side for Team North Dakota when the all-star high school football team takes on Team Montana at the Badlands Bowl, which is scheduled for 6 p.m. Saturday at the Badlands Activities Center.
Rod Oksendahl is North Dakota’s head coach and his son coaches the team’s offensive backs.
“It’s a fun thing for us to step out onto our field and feel each other out,” Tim said. “Both of us have the same set on how we coach. The relationship between us is very strong and we like to be able to work together out on the field.”
Rod was the head coach for North Dakota during the 2005 Badlands Bowl and Tim was his starting quarterback. Tim threw 9-for-11 for 149 yards and three touchdowns and was named the game’s Most Valuable Offensive Player. It was special moment as North Dakota won 53-29 and snapped a four-year Montana win streak.
“It was very rewarding,” Rod said. “That was something, as a father, you kind of dream about. Watching your kid go out there and be part of a winning team, not only that he had an outstanding game. It was a very proud moment for a father.”
The game in 2005 holds a special place in Tim’s heart, but it wasn’t the individual performance — it was another achievement — winning the final game of his high school career. In fact, he won the final 36 as Cavalier High School won three consecutive Class 2A state championships from 2002 to 2004.
“Him (Rod) and I had a 36-game winning streak, between coach and quarterback, just getting one more and beating Montana was very important to the both of us,” Tim said.
Rod was the longtime head coach at Cavalier. Last year was first season at Fargo Shanley. He compiled a 261-73 record in 31 seasons at Cavalier and Wyndmere and finished his first season with the Deacons 8-4.
“They obviously know what they are doing,” Shanley defensive back Tyler Rivard said. “Rod was at Cavalier forever and he’s a good fundamentalist all-around.”
Once Rod took the job at Shanley, the father-son duo was reunited. Rod said watching Tim coach has been just as satisfying as watching him take the field as the signal caller.
“It’s almost as rewarding as it was watching him play the game and learning the things we were trying to teach him back then,” Rod said. “He’s done a great job of presenting things to the kids here. He’s been doing it for the last couple of years and has picked up on what he’s response for and right now that’s the offense.”
Rivard said Rod and Tim are very complimentary of each other in their coaching styles.
“They’re just a great coaching combo,” Rivard said. “Rod usually takes care more of the defensive side and Tim is more the offensive side. It’s a good balance between the two, because they both kind of do their own thing, but help out each other too.”
However, the road to reuniting the father and son coaching combination wasn’t always in the cards. Rod had his hesitations about taking the head coach job at Shanley.
“He (Tim) had a chance to do some other things that probably would have led him on to bigger and better things,” Rod said. “He had a chance to coach at (Minnesota State Moorhead) and he decided to stay at Shanley. For me that was pretty special because I’m not sure if I would have followed through going for that job (Shanley head coach) if I knew that he was leaving.”
Tim said once his father took the Shanley job, there was nothing but excitement.
“I’m glad that he got another opportunity to be a head coach,” Tim said. “I’ve learned so much from him, not only when I played for him, but as a coach. I’ve grown so much in the past year through him tutoring me. I bounce ideas off of him and he does it to me. We make each other better.”
Since Rod isn’t inside the halls at Shanley every day, Tim has been the voice there and Rod said that’s biggest asset.
“He’s done an awful lot that I can’t do, because I work outside the school,” Rod said. “He’s done a lot of stuff inside the school that a normally a head coach should do. He’s taken on a lot of responsibility that most guys don’t have to take on. It’s been a good thing.”