Rugby High School girls track & field coach Bill Jansen has been in the game for 30 years.
Recently he was named one of eight finalists nationwide for the girls track and field Coach of the Year award by the National High School Athletic Coaches Association. Nominees are selected based on longevity, honors, championships and other criteria, according to a press release sent to the Tribune. He was nominated by the North Dakota High School Coaches Association. The Coach of the Year award for girls track & field and 18 other sports will be presented June 20 at the Kahler Grand Hotel in Rochester, Minn.
Jansen was also named a finalist for the award in 2012.
Growing up in a family of educators, Jansen went through high school and four years of college saying he was never going to become a teacher. While working at a pool in the summers and teaching children in swimming lessons, he grew to like the coaching aspect of it better.
“I liked that side of it, but I didn’t think I’d like standing in front of kids, keeping discipline in that way and teaching book stuff,” Jansen said.
After a receiving a degree from Jamestown College where he participated in both football and track Jansen began coaching in earnest, starting at Valley City with his father, William J. Jansen. At that point, Bill realized becoming a teacher was necessary. He then pursued an education degree at Valley City State University.
After six years of coaching at Valley City, Bill Jansen coached for seven years at Bisbee-Egeland, which also had a co-op with Cando at the time. He then started coaching in Rugby, where he has been for the last 17 years. Also coaching in Rugby at the time was Denise Myhre, who ran track under William J., when he coached in Tuttle in the 1960s.
Bill Jansen said he doesn’t feel like he deserves the award, as there are multiple coaches in the Rugby program and the program has held a core of strong, hard-working athletes. In spring 2014, the RHS girls track & field team took first at the regional track meet, and finished at the state meet in a six-way tie for 11th place.
However, the coach of the year award would be one of personal significance to Bill Jansen.
“My dad actually won Girls Coach of the Year in 1979,” Bill said. “That would mean a lot to me to win the same award my dad won 36 years ago.”
Bill recalls traveling to the 1979 convention, which was held in Florida, to see his father accept his award.
William J. was up for a second Coach of the Year award in 2003 for boys cross country, which Bill recalls was toward the end of both his father’s career and life. William J. died of leukemia and Bill accepted the award on his father’s behalf.
Last year, Bill traveled to the national convention to witness fellow RHS coach Scott Grochow win a Coach of the Year award for boys track & field.
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