Former DSU coach Roger Huffman leaves legacy behind
Just below the bleachers at the Biesiot Activities Center, against the red of the track, white letters stand out, spelling 'Roger Huffman Track.' Huffman, a former Dickinson State student, athlete and coach, passed away at the age of 88 on Monday...
Just below the bleachers at the Biesiot Activities Center, against the red of the track, white letters stand out, spelling 'Roger Huffman Track.'
Huffman, a former Dickinson State student, athlete and coach, passed away at the age of 88 on Monday, April 23 at Edgewood Hawks Point. Still, his name can be spotted throughout the campus, solidifying his legacy and hard work.
"He has an unbelievable legacy," DSU Athletic Director and head football coach Pete Stanton said. "You look at the history of Dickinson State and everything he did for the university and how much he cared about the university, he's towards the top of the list. He loved his Alma Mater."
Huffman attended then Dickinson State College between 1947 and 1955, participating in football, basketball and track. After coaching eight years at Dickinson High, he returned to Dickinson State.
With a masters degree from the University of North Dakota, he taught physical education and headed the football team between 1963 and 1965. Over the three seasons he helped the team go 15-7-2.
"We came to Dickinson State together in 1963," former DSU basketball coach and commissioner of the Dakota Athletic Conference Lavern Jessen said. "He was the football coach, I was the basketball coach. I assisted him and he assisted me."
The two shared an office at Dickinson State and grew close, especially because they lived one house away from each other for about 50 years.
"Roger was a great advocate for the athletes," Jessen said. "He was not only a coach but an educator. He was a unique man, always willing to express his opinions, but he was respected by everyone at Dickinson State."
With Huffman as head coach, his teams won six track and cross country conference championships. He was named NAIA District 12 track coach of the year three times and cross country coach of the year twice. He initiated the first women's athletic program in the conference as well.
"I know one of the things he said was his proudest moment is I believe they swept the conference cross country meet with a one through five finish and took his team to the national meet," Stanton said.
In 1966, Huffman was named athletics director and chair of the Physical Education Division, positions he held until 1984. At that time, he was named registrar and director of admissions.
That's when Stanton met Huffman. Although he was no longer officially coaching when Stanton was a student-athlete, Huffman helped out with cross country.
Even later, when Stanton became the track coach, Huffman was still stopping by despite retiring in 1991.
"I was the track coach the first 13 years I was here and I would say most of those years, probably daily, he was by Weinbergen and by my office," Stanton said. "His famous statement was, 'I know you did well last year, but what have you done for me lately?' He was very supportive and somebody I could bounce a lot of different ideas off of."
In 1981, he was inducted into the Blue Hawk Athletics Hall of Fame and in 1987 the track at Whitney Stadium was dedicated to him. He was actually involved in the planning of the stadium, as well as Weinbergen Hall.
When Whitney was replaced by the Badlands Activities Center (now the Biesiot Activities Center), a ceremony was held to rededicate the track to Huffman.
Huffman attended the event in April 2010, in which a handful of people took to the podium to highlight the man's dedication to the school.
In 2004, Huffman was further honored by his Alma Mater by being named the winner of the Golden Hawk Award, which is the highest recognition presented to a Dickinson State alumni.
"Like I said, Roger was a unique man," Jessen said. "There are a lot of stories that are going to be told about Roger Huffman in the next few days as they remember him. He influenced a lot of people, a lot of athletes in a positive way."