Former Blue Hawks coach Biesiot to be inducted into ND Sports Hall of Fame

JAMESTOWN -- Hank Biesiot is the second-winningest NAIA college football coach of all-time.An institution at Dickinson State for 41 years, Biesiot spent 38 as head coach, compiling 257 wins. Only Kevin Donley, who coached at four different univer...

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In this Sept. 1, 2012 photo, former Dickinson State head football coach Hank Biesiot, left, speaks with players during a Frontier Conference game against Rocky Mountain College. After 38 years as the head coach of the Blue Hawks, Biesiot resigned. (Press File Photo)

JAMESTOWN - Hank Biesiot is the second-winningest NAIA college football coach of all-time.
An institution at Dickinson State for 41 years, Biesiot spent 38 as head coach, compiling 257 wins. Only Kevin Donley, who coached at four different universities, won more. Biesiot, meanwhile, was a Blue Hawk for life.
But by no means does he consider his coaching success to be his most noteworthy achievement.
“Being a teacher is my greatest accomplishment,” the always understated Biesiot said. “I knew in the seventh or eighth grade I didn’t want to chop wood or throw hay bales my whole life and about the only way I was going to get to wear a white shirt and tie was to be a teacher.”
From there began one of the most successful coaching careers in state history. Biesiot, who was born in Duluth, Minn., but “was raised in North Dakota,” will be inducted into the North Dakota Sports Hall of Fame on Saturday, joining Major League Baseball player Travis Hafner along with University of North Dakota and USA Olympic hockey standouts Jocelyne Lamoreaux-Davidson and Monique Lamoreaux.
The award was meaningful to Biesiot, but as usual, he was unwilling to indulge in glory.
“It’s a great honor, and it came as a total surprise,” he said. “With any type of recognition it’s both embarrassing and humbling at the same time. You don’t get to have something happen like this without coming into contact with so many great people and that includes my family, all the great athletes, all of the coaches and the folks in administration.
“What I think it says is that I’ve been around a long time and I had the good fortune of being around a lot of good people.”
Biesiot, who was hired as an assistant football coach in 1972, was promoted to head coach in 1975, leading the Blue Hawks to 32 winning seasons in 36 years, coaching over 2,000 players. He was DSU’s baseball coach from 1976-2001. He also was an associate professor of health and physical education.
“People tend to get awfully caught up in the wins and losses and those things are important, don’t misunderstand me, but the best thing to me, was the relationships,” he said. “The memories, the friendships, the good times and the bad, you remember that long past whether you won or lost this game or that game - that I promise you.”
Biesiot, who played football and baseball at Mayville State, grew up in Michigan, N.D. His roots in the state are deep. There were a few chances to pursue other coaching opportunities, but he never felt the need to leave home.
“It was just a feeling more than anything else,” he said of never seriously considering leaving Dickinson. “If you’re satisfied and you’re family is happy, that’s what’s most important.”
The pillars of the program he built were simple, but undeniably successful.
“Having kids that like to play … and being sound and fundamental,” he said. “Some things come and go, there are fads, but we found that when we struggled or maybe had a season that wasn’t as good it’s probably because we got away from being sound and fundamental.”
Those same principles applied to life outside of football where he and his wife Susan continue to live in Dickinson and are regulars on Saturdays to watch the Blue Hawks at the Henry Biesiot Activities Center.
“We’ve lived in the same house since the early 70s,” Biesiot said. “My wife has changed some things to keep up with the times, but it suits us just fine.”

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