PINE RIVER -- Gregg Ehlert wanted to play baseball for a career, but found his calling as the new Pine River-Backus head track and field coach.
Ehlert, originally from Stewart, played football, basketball and baseball in high school. He loved the game of baseball so much he decided to try out his talents at North Dakota State University.
"I tried to have a career in baseball but I didn't quite have the arm," said Ehlert. "So I majored in physical and health education and coaching."
This is Ehlert's first year teaching, as well as being a head coach. He was the assistant girls' basketball coach during the winter and found an opening for the track and field team when Mike Galligan, last year's coach, stepped down.
This isn't Ehlert's first stint with track and field, however.
"I did my coaching practicum through NDSU and I did it at Fargo South High School in 1996," said Ehlert. "They won the state championship in track and field for their division that year. They had talent through every event.
"I played high school football, basketball and baseball but I didn't do track, so I did track for my practicum so I could learn more and get a basic understanding of what track was all about.
"When this job opened up Allen Ralston, the athletic director, asked me if I wanted it and that's pretty much how I got started," added Ehlert.
Ehlert has been doing a lot of reading and studying, as well as talking with former coach Galligan and his assistant. His work as an assistant in basketball also helped him for the spring season.
"I was an assistant girls' basketball coach with (Tom) Lupella this winter and I learned quite a bit from him, especially with girls," said Ehlert. "That was the first time I coached anything with girls and that was a learning experience.
"As far as track goes I like to get kids motivated and it's rewarding to see them beat an old record through hard work and dedication."
Ehlert has some talented athletes returning from last year's squad to help him through his first year. Senior Corey Israelson, the main thrower for PR-B, has been a big help with the younger throwers, said Ehlert.
"My assistant coaches Jim Machacek and Kelly McCluskey are both wonderful," said Ehlert. "Machacek has been here for 30 or 40 years so he's seen about everything and he gives me a lot of advice.
"Kelly does a great job with the junior high. She breaks down things so well with the younger kids and that's very important for that age group."
Despite his experience as an assistant coach Ehlert is learning the difference between the head guy and the back-up.
"With a head coaching job there's many more things to deal with versus an assistant," said Ehlert. "For basketball, Lupella handled everything. So I have my hands full, but this is what I went to school for so I'm prepared and hopefully I can make the best out of it."
Ehlert got into teaching and coaching through his family.
"My mom was a teacher and I think that kind of rubbed off on me and I always enjoyed athletics and all sports. My brother played football at NDSU in the late '80s and won four national championships. It's always been something I wanted to do since high school."
For the PR-B track and field team the future looks solid as Ehlert plans to lead them for a while. So far he has enjoyed coaching track and field.
His first love is baseball, but his main love now is motivating kids and watching them succeed.
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