Weather Forecast


Fargo Shanley head football coach Oksendahl retires

Rod Oksendahl. Dave Wallis / Forum News Service

FARGO — After more than 40 years in coaching and more than 300 victories, Fargo Shanley head football coach Rod Oksendahl decided it was time.

Oksendahl announced his retirement Wednesday, Nov. 30, after 43 years of coaching high school football, including 37 as a head coach.

He was the head coach for the Deacons the past six seasons.

"After 43 years, it's enough, I'm just tired," Oksendahl said. "This just seemed to be a good time to do it."

The 65-year-old Oksendahl finished his coaching career with a 317-86 overall record, including a 56-14 mark at Shanley. He won five state championships. Oksendahl guided Shanley to a North Dakota Class 2A state title in 2012. He won four state crowns (1987, 2002, 2003, 2004) at Cavalier.

"I hope I am remembered as a guy that I took great pride in making sure our teams were prepared," said Oksendahl, who was inducted into the National High School Athletic Coaches Association's Hall of Fame in 2013.

Oksendal coached three years at Wyndmere (N.D.) before spending 28 years at Cavalier from 1978 to 2006. He spent the past six seasons at Shanley, after he was hired in 2011.

"I was at three schools where football was very important, too," said Oksendahl, who graduated from Valley City State in 1973. "They all have great winning traditions."

Minnesota State Moorhead head football coach Steve Laqua played quarterback for Oksendahl for four years at Cavalier. Prior to that, Laqua was a student manager for the Tornadoes.

"He certainly was a huge influencer in my football career," said Laqua, who recently completed his sixth season as the Dragons head coach. "The very first guy who got me interested or planted that seed to get me into coaching. ... He's maybe one of the most competitive guys I've ever been around. That spilled over to the teams that he coached."

The Deacons had a 9-2 record in Oksendahl's final season. They advanced to the state semifinals before losing to Kindred, which scored a touchdown on the final play of the game to earn a 35-29 victory.

Oksendahl said the first state championship he won at Cavalier in 1987, the 47-game winning streak at Cavalier (2002-2005) and his lone state championship with Shanley (2012) rank among his top career highlights.

Oksendahl said working with the players is one of the things he will miss about coaching.

"Developing kids and that type of thing is mainly what our jobs are about," Oksendahl said.

He also added that coaching is different than when he started in the profession.

"Longevity isn't 40 years anymore, it's probably 10," he said. "That's one thing that has definitely changed."

Shanley athletic director Michael Breker said Oksendahl was organized and got the most out of each minute of practice time.

"He knew what he was talking about and the kids believed in him 100 percent," Breker said. "If he's anything, he's a football coach. He's a diehard football guy."

Breker said there isn't a defined timetable for naming a replacement for Oksendahl.

"We'll let it soak for a little bit and we'll take applications and we'll go from there," Breker said.

Eric Peterson
Peterson covers college athletics for The Forum, including Concordia College and Minnesota State Moorhead. He also covers the Fargo-Moorhead RedHawks independent baseball team and helps out with North Dakota State football coverage. Peterson has been working at the newspaper since 1996.

Have a comment to share about a story? Letters to the editor should include author’s name, address and phone number. Generally, letters should be no longer than 250 words. All letters are subject to editing. Send to
(701) 241-5513