Riessen named track assistant of the year

Rod Riessen has spent countless hours dedicating his time to Fort Dodge Senior High athletics.

For his efforts this past spring, Riessen was recently named the 2014 assistant coach of the year by the Iowa Association of Track Coaches.

Riessen was previously selected as Assistant Coach of the Year in wrestling (2004) and football (2005). Only one assistant coach is picked each year for the entire state of Iowa.

“I was surprised when I found out,” said Riessen. “I was at a little kids camp this summer, and (FDSH head track coach) John (McBride) came in and told me to sit down because I wasn’t going to believe it.

“John actually nominated me, which is pretty cool, but a committee makes all the selections. I’m humbled and very honored since there are so many good assistant coaches out there. I don’t know of any other coach in Iowa that has done it in three different sports.”

This past year, Riessen completed his 29th season of coaching track, 30th season of coaching wrestling and 31st season of coaching football – all at Fort Dodge Senior High.

“I’m very proud of what I do,” Riessen said. “If I had to sum everything up in one word, it would be ‘try.’ I try to do my best, try to do what’s right for the program and school, and try to treat everyone the way they should be treated. People notice that.”

Riessen was quick to point out his wife, Kelli, for always sticking by his side.

“Kelli has been there since day one,” said Riessen. “She raised the kids when I was at track meets or different events. Without a doubt, she’s my No. 1 supporter.”

Having the opportunity to coach his sons, Ryan and Reid, was a rewarding experience for Riessen.

“I coached Ryan in three sports and Reid in two sports,” Riessen said. “I’m proud of all three of my boys (Royce is Riessen’s other son). They have different interests, but they’re all really successful at what they do.”

Looking back, Riessen mentioned coaches Don Miller, Sam Moser, Ed Birnbaum and Matt Miller as positive role models in helping shape his career, which started at FDSH in 1983.

“I’ve been fortunate to work with an elite group of coaches,” said Riessen. “I’ve learned so much along the way, but the neat thing is all those guys let you coach.

“Ed Birnbaum has supported me from the get-go and has been a huge influence on me. Walt LaFollette and my junior high track coach and high school PE teacher at Durant, Chuck Rogers, also really inspired me.”

Riessen hopes to continue his coaching career for the foreseeable future. He also serves as a physical education teacher at Fort Dodge Senior High.

“I’m just going to keep plugging away at it,” Riessen said. “I will do it as long as I can help the programs. I still enjoy it.”