Pool: Hank Biesiot’s impact still felt with the Dickinson State Blue Hawks football team

Tucked away in the corner of Weinbergen Hall, where Dickinson State athletes work out, there's a row of lockers saved for old DSU faculty. One of those lockers is reserved for coach Hank Biesiot. Yes, the coaching legend is still around. "Coach B...

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Former Dickinson State head football coach Hank Biesiot stands next to his wife, Susan, as he speaks during a ceremony that renamed the Badlands Activities Center the Henry Biesiot Activities Center following a football game against Montana Tech on Oct. 6, 2012. Next to Biesiot is a plaque he was presented with by former DSU President D.C. Coston. (Press Photo by Dustin Monke)

Tucked away in the corner of Weinbergen Hall, where Dickinson State athletes work out, there’s a row of lockers saved for old DSU faculty.
One of those lockers is reserved for coach Hank Biesiot.
Yes, the coaching legend is still around.
“Coach B,” now retired, coached football at DSU - and did so pretty dang well.
In his 38 years at the helm, the NAIA Hall of Fame coach was 258-121-1 on his way to 17 conference championships. He was named conference coach of the year 12 times, and he coached DSU to just six losing seasons.
But his last three stick out, as the Blue Hawks went 7-25 from 2011 to 2013 before he retired.
Since current DSU head coach Pete Stanton took over, the Blue Hawks have been 15-6 with their first playoff appearance since 2010 at noon Saturday against Montana Tech in Butte, Mont.
Stanton sure has steered the team in the right direction.
“In my eyes with the coaching staff, it’s not if they won or lost. It didn’t matter if they were 8-2 or 2-8, they’re doing a good job,” Biesiot said. “The entire coaching staff, they’re good teachers and are coaching the right way. I know it’s not a matter of records.”
But the 8-2 record speaks for itself, which is reflected by the coaching staff, Biesiot said.
“They’re a championship-caliber, no matter what the record is,” Biesiot said. “You can tell their heads and hearts are in the right place. They’re a great bunch of guys. Hard work doesn’t always show up in championship seasons, but with these guys it’s great to see them rewarded in that fashion.

“No matter what the record is, they’re the type of guys you want on your team anytime, any place.”
DSU players and coaches tell stories about Biesiot to this day, which means he still has an impact on the program.
In fact, senior center Meyer Bohn said Biesiot’s legacy lives on even in these rebound seasons.
“Everything he’s done, the heart and soul he’s poured into the program and just the little things that go into the character of a person, how you carry yourself on and off the field, it’s just as equally as important,” Bohn said. “To be disciplined, responsible, a leader that serves others - that’s all things Coach B did. He’s such a humble guy.”
Like a humble guy would, Biesiot deflects that notion.
“The impact on the program comes from the players and coaches that are there now,” Biesiot said. “In some way that’s flattering, but that speaks to the player and kid he is to deflect praise in that too. But there are guys there now that are winning.”
Yes, they are winning without Coach B now, and it’s tough to tell if Biesiot truly has an impact on this 2015 team. Until you remember that DSU’s football stadium is named after the guy.
Those on the team and a lot fans around town are optimistic that DSU’s winning tradition is back.
But that means that there was a winning tradition in the first place - and that’s in considerable part to Biesiot.
“Coach B recruited me and a lot of us, and he believed in us,” senior right guard Lane Millay said. “He wanted us to carry out the tradition of winning. For him to give us the opportunity is something I can never thank him enough for.”
Biesiot was always someone who was willing to go an extra mile for other people, Bohn said. So it was no surprise that when he retired, Biesiot told the team he was making a decision that was best for the school.
“For me, that was so cool to see someone so selfless,” Bohn said, “only ever caring about other people, the team and doing what was best for everyone, even though it maybe didn’t affect him in the best way.”
It’s difficult to forget those tough years, though. After so many successful years, there were bound to be a few that weren’t as good.
That only provided this year’s senior class with motivation to get the program back to where it was again.
In his early seasons, Bohn said he would occasionally go out in public just to see disappointed Blue Hawks fans who would even give him the occasional, “You guys ever going to win a game again?”
But the team has gone from heartbreaking to heartwarming.
“A lot of those guys I look up to now have done great things here,” Bohn said. “To see them proud of where their school is again and happy to see the players out there playing Blue Hawk football and giving it their all every single play, doing everything it takes to be a Blue Hawk, that’s the coolest thing.”
One of those people that instilled work ethic, without a shadow of a doubt, is Biesiot.
“That’s something that he left on this school that will never fade away or be forgotten,” Bohn said. “Regardless of what happened toward the end of his career, all the accomplishments and everything that he’s done for Dickinson State football, none of that can be overshadowed by the things he’s done.”
Though he’s enjoying retirement, Coach B never really considered himself separated from the program.
“I’ll always be a fan,” Biesiot said. “There’s a personal connection you have. The place you know personally is because of the people as well as the players. I will never be removed because they’re friends.
“I’m a real fan of theirs.”
Anyone who knows Coach B can attest to how personable he is.
I talked to the man maybe once in my days playing football for the Heart River Cougars and going to DSU football camps, but he knew I was from Belfield when I spoke with him late Tuesday. I can hardly remember what I ate for supper, but he can remember who I am?
Those DSU football camps were some of the best memories of my life with high school teammates I still consider my best friends. Thanks to him and those around him, those camps provided experiences like that for thousands who didn’t even end up playing college football.
The wins, the conference championships and the accolades were no coincidence for Coach B.
“It’s been a pleasure to watch their success, but even more of a pleasure just to know the number of people there still rolling,” Biesiot said of the football team. “I’m just wondering if I’ll need to wear long underwear when I go to Butte.”
Coach B said he tries to get to as many games as possible, and he will see his Blue Hawks take on Montana Tech. But the players haven’t really seen him around, apparently.
“No. No, we don’t. But we don’t have to see him to know he’s there,” Millay said. “I know he’s watching.”

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