“An Evening of Champions” event hosted by the Pelican Rapids High School Fellowship of Christian Athletes chapter March 20 features a very special guest speaker.

20-year South Dakota State University head football coach John Stiegelmeier will be speaking at Pelican High School March 20.

The appearance of John Stiegelmeier, coach of the South Dakota State University Jackrabbits, will be a delight for the random handful of South Dakota fans in the Pelican Area.  Not so much, perhaps, for legions of North Dakota State Univeristy Bison football fans in the Pelican neighborhood.

Regardless, local organizers, including South Dakotan John Eidsness, are excited about luring in a high profile speaker and coach of a Division I football team.

The Evening of Champions is March 20, beginning with students and sponsors in the high school commons.

The  public program and presentation by Stiegelmeier will be 7 p.m. at the new Pelican Rapids Fine Arts Auditorium.

At the American Football Coaches Association (AFCA) Convention in Nashville recently, the Fellowship of  Christian Athletes honored Stiegelmeier with the 2016 Grant Team Coach of the Year Award.

John Stiegelmeier has built the SDSU program into a yearly contender within the Missouri Valley Football Conference and the Football Championship Subdivision (FCS). He led the Jackrabbits to an 8-3 overall record during the regular season and their first Missouri Valley Football Conference championship with a 7-1 mark in league play.

Now in his 20th season as head coach, Stiegelmeier is the winningest coach in program history with a 136-93 record. SDSU made its fifth consecutive appearance in the FCS playoffs and sixth overall since 2009.

During his tenure at SDSU, Stiegelmeier has earned coach of the year honors in three different conferences. He previously was honored as North Central Conference Coach of the Year in 1999 and Great West Football Conference Coach of the Year in 2007. Under Stiegelmeier’s guidance, SDSU has appeared in the FCS rankings nine of the last 10 seasons, first cracking the national poll in 2006.