Member of Viking 1984 state basketball champion squad is superintendent at Sauk Centre district

A sign on the wall behind Pelican Rapids native Pat Westby, currently school superintendent at Sauk Centre, are words from his father, “Whatever you are, be a good one.” PHOTO BY TOM HINTGEN

Pat Westby, 1984 Pelican Rapids High School graduate and star player for the 1984 Vikings state basketball title squad, assumed duties July 1, 2016, as superintendent of schools in Sauk Centre.

This followed eight years as school superintendent for Westby at West Central Area in Barrett, a consolidated school district with Elbow Lake and other area communities.

“I enjoy new challenges which I also see as new opportunities,” said Westby on Dec. 18 in his superintendent office in Sauk Centre.

He said his main goal, with the support of school board members, parents, staff, teachers and the community is to provide students the opportunity to learn in the classroom and also expand their horizons with extracurricular activities.

“We encourage kids to participate in band, choir, robotics, athletics and other activities,” said Westby.

The Pelican Rapids native also works with teachers and staff members in addressing the needs of  students who have personal challenges, in a world that is far different from his school days in Pelican Rapids.

“We have wonderful support from people here in Sauk Centre who understand the needs in our school district,” said Westby. “We rely on taxpayer support and work hard to do our best throughout the school district.

“As a public school district, we are accountable and are required to meet some high standards. Students who enter our buildings each day have their own personalities and we adjust accordingly.”

Basketball remembrances

Westby does not live in the past but does stay in close contact with teammates from his classroom days and basketball playing days at Pelican Rapids High School.

“Our 1984 basketball team was and still is a close-knit group,” said Westby. “We get together periodically.”

In 1984 Westby made the winning basket as the Pelican Rapids High School Vikings, coached by Rex Haugen, won the Minnesota Class A state basketball title. There were two classes of Minnesota basketball in those days.

In the final four tournament games in 1984, Pelican Rapids won by a total of only seven points. They defeated Breckenridge in the region finals by two points and won by the same margin (two points) in the state quarterfinals over Wells-Easton.

Pelican Rapids then stopped St. John’s by a single point in the state semi-finals. Westby’s winning basket with only six seconds remaining in the 1984 state Class A title game gave the Vikings a two-point win over Winona Cotter.

Westby attended M State, Fergus Falls, where he played basketball, and graduated from Augustana College, Sioux Falls, with an elementary and coaching degree. He also played basketball at Augustana.

He and his Pelican Rapids  teammates from 1984 are especially proud of the 2009 hometown Vikings who won the state boys Class AA championship, under a new four-class system of high school basketball.

His post-college career

Westby began his career in education as a teacher for three years at Pipestone in southwestern Minnesota.

Then it was on to Moorhead where he taught five years in that school system. While teaching in Moorhead, he obtained a Masters Degree in Curriculum and Instruction from the University of St. Thomas, St. Paul.

Starting in 1997, Westby took a break from education and worked four years on the family farm southeast of Pelican Rapids. During this period of time he was able to work toward his principal licensure through Minnesota State University, Moorhead.

Westby served as assistant principal for two years in Red Wing, worked one year as elementary principal in Moorhead, served three years at WCA as grade school principal and worked one year as principal of an elementary school in Alexandria.

He began work as superintendent at WCA in Barrett, south of Elbow Lake, on July 1, 2008.

“It was an enjoyable and challenging eight years at WCA,” said Westby. “My work there prepared me well for my current role as superintendent here in Sauk Centre.”

He and his wife, Cathy, were married in 1990.

Their children are Isaiah, 18, a freshman at Wisconsin Stout who will transfer to South Dakota State in January, and McKenna, 15, a sophomore at Sauk Centre High School.