An obvious, and infinitely appropriate,
choice for Pelican’s Hall of Fame
When Pelican Rapids school and community leaders announced that a “Hall of Fame” program would be established locally–there was little doubt in the community that Al Siegle would be among the first inductees.
From 1964 to 1994, Siegle served as educator, coach and athletic director in the Pelican Rapids schools. The accomplishments of various teams during Siegle’s tenure at the Pelican schools would be more than enough to qualify him as a “Hall of Famer.” He is also in state Halls, as a coach and as an athletic administrator.
But the fact is, Siegle touched so many people, on so many levels, that he was an inspiration for all–athlete or non-athlete, young and old.
“Make good choices, work hard, be nice…” Those were words of encouragement common from Siegle across his career.
Siegle viewed athletics as not just as a way to promote and organize sports, but to help young people understand the value of teamwork and achieving goals.
Over the years he taught physical education, social studies, science and drivers education, in addition to his many years of coaching and administration.
In January 2016, the new gymnasium at the Pelican Rapids High School campus was dedicated to him–and signage on the facility bears his name: “The Al Siegle Activity Center.”
Unfortunately, Siegle died in August of 2015, before the complex in his name was completed.
The Hall of Fame induction, set Oct. 5 at the Pelican Rapids VFW, would be all the more sentimental–if Al was still with us. But lamenting his absence is probably not what Al would prefer, because he was well known as a cheery optimist.
The year he retired from Pelican, Siegle was honored as the Athletic Director of the Year at the state level. Prior to that, in 1989, he was voted into the Minnesota High School Coaches Hall of Fame. He was later inducted into the Minnesota Interscholastic Athletic Administrators Association (MnIAAA) Hall of Fame.
Siegle viewed his position in athletics as not just a way to promote and organize sports, but as a way to grow young people who know the value of teamwork and achieving goals.
A Montana boy who proved his gridiron prowess in only one year of high school football, Siegle ended up at Concordia and the desire to be involved with sports never left him. He earned a teaching degree and found ways to get involved with sports from behind the clipboard.
“The highlight for me was working with the youth and the coaches,” said Siegle in a 2007 interview. “Good teachers and administration, I was fairly lucky. Everyone was willing to work with me. That’s key.”
Between teaching, coaching and working in administration, there were probably thousands that he came in contact with.
Siegle’s remarkable impact on young people is reflected in the fact that he still heard from students who he mentored at Bertha-Hewitt, his first position after graduating from Concordia-Moorhead. Even though his Bertha years date from 1958 to 1964, before coming to Pelican Rapids–he was still fondly remembered there.
One of them from Bertha-Hewitt who can’t say enough good things about Siegle is Chuck Brunko of Fergus Falls, a retiree who had a successful career at Otter Tail Power Company.
“Al did so much for his students and players, and many of us keeping in touch is the least we can do,” said Brunko.
After retirement, Siegle was happy to help out with the Viking football program as a volunteer each fall. He also served in the broadcast booth for games.
When he worked in the press box regularly since retirement, he had his own style in announcing games. If a ball went out of bounds, recalled Doug Bruggeman, Al would say the ball bounced “East of Maplewood;” or “South of Erhard.”
A man of strong faith, Siegle was active throughout his years in Pelican Rapids at Trinity Lutheran Church.
Siegle would say “Jesus loved me,” noted his son Tim. “He gave me the opportunity to be in Pelican Rapids.”
The Siegle family lived only a couple blocks from school, and Al walked to work virtually every day of his career, said Tim. As he stepped toward the high school building, he would say a prayer: “God, let me help somebody today.”
After the games, recalled his Pelican school colleague Virg Kohler, Siegle would always say to the students “be safe,” and “with a smile and a wink, he would add ‘see you in church.’”
“I never heard my dad swear. I never saw him get mad. Everybody had a respect for him,” said Tim Siegle. “He could walk into a room of chaos, and everybody would immediately calm down.”
When he coached football, he would gather the team together after every game. He would first ask “Did anybody get hurt?” His second comment to the team: “Remember to go to church on Sunday.”
“I don’t know if you could get away with reminding athletes to go to church,” said Tim Siegle. “You probably couldn’t today–but knowing dad, he probably would say it anyway.”
A few facts on Al Siegle
• Honored as the Athletic Director of the Year at the state level.
• In 1989, he was voted into the Minnesota High School Coaches Hall of Fame.
• He was inducted into the Minnesota Interscholastic Athletic Administrators Association (MnIAAA) Hall of Fame.
• He has been honored a number of times by his alma mater, Concordia College-Moorhead.
• The “Al Siegle Scholarship” was created at the Pelican Rapids school, which is awarded to students who are “three sport athletes.”
• He was a frequent sight in the announcers booth and on the sidelines as a fan for Pelican Rapids sporting events, almost up until his death in August 2015.
• The Chamber of Commerce honored Siegle with the “Pelican Pride” award in 2010.
“Al was always interested in student athletes. But it didn’t matter what the score was…He wanted to win, of course, but he knew there were more important things in life.”
Longtime Pelican educator