Multiple Breckenridge sports have injected some young blood into their program with first-year coaches. Whether it’s newcomer Austin Imdieke or the pair of hometown boys in Jack Hiedeman and Jordan Christensen, each coach has a different perspective when talking about the start of their coaching careers in Breckenridge, Minnesota.
Fresh off graduation from Minnesota State University Moorhead, Imdieke accepted a high school special education position and also became the girls basketball team’s new head coach. The Belgrade-Brooten-Elrosa, Minnesota, grad said moving to another small community wasn’t too tough of an adjustment. His reception from the town has also made the change more positive.
“The community has been super supportive of the girls so far,” Imdieke said. “From where I’m coming from, an even smaller town, the culture and the community is very similar. We’re a small farming community so it’s been fun for me.”
The Cowgirls opened their season with three wins and Imdieke gave the players credit for getting on board with a new head coach.
“Working with the girls, they’ve (invested in this) right away it seems like. Even this summer I got to work with them a bit and they’ve been super engaged and working hard,” Imdieke said. “It’s been fun to have a group of girls who are willing to do that. It makes my job easier that way, too, and enjoyable for everybody.”
Along with the players, Imdieke said Assistant Coach Tony Bogenreif has been another key to the smooth transition. Bogenreif, a former Cowboy, has spent almost 10 years coaching between Breckenridge and Wahpeton. The pair also work together in the school.
“Having a coach like Tony on the staff has been nice, too. He’s been doing it for a few years now,” Imdieke said. “Having a guy from the hometown helps because he knows the families and the people.”
Imdieke’s constantly learning in his new role as the leader of a team. He knows it’s something that needs to be thought about and improved 365 days a year. The behind the scenes work that comes with being a head coach, like having to fit in schedules for the regular season and offseason, has Imdieke prioritizing his time more efficiently.
“Nowadays to have competitive programs teams are playing throughout the summer and girls are playing AAU. It seems like there’s activities non-stop,” Imdieke said. “It’s the coordinating, the time you put in preparing and also trying to learn new things about the game itself.”
Along with his coaching responsibilities on the hardwood, Imdieke will also likely be coaching baseball for the Cowboys in some capacity this spring. When he can make it back in the summer he plays for his hometown amateur team.
“I did some coaching up in Moorhead through college with the club team and in Babe Ruth, too,” Imdieke said. “I’d certainly like to (coach baseball). It’s always been something I’ve been involved in.”
A former three-sport athlete at BHS, Jack Hiedeman wrapped up his college and baseball career at Concordia College last spring. He’s coached summer baseball every year since his sophomore year of high school, which led to him pursuing a career in teaching. When he was hired to teach junior high social studies, he said it was his best-case scenario.
“Not a whole lot’s changed. It’s kind of funny seeing some of the teachers that I had and now they’re colleagues,” Hiedeman said. “It’s been a really cool experience.”
Hiedeman, who was a cornerback and tailback when he suited up for Breck, coaches this year’s crop of DBs and running backs. Having Coach Chad Fredericksen as his head coach in high school gave Hiedeman an advantage since he already knew the system.The former All-Conference player gave high praise to the athletes from this year’s team.
“It’s been cool to see because at least half of the guys do it a lot better now than I did it back then so it’s interesting from that point of view,” Hiedeman said. “Watching them, having to coach and not being able to play is just a different side of things, but I’m definitely ready for the coaching side of things.”
Hiedeman spent the last two years as an assistant for the American Legion varsity team while also coaching another youth team. At the start of his coaching career, the group he worked with most were athletes in the 12-14 range. Ironically, the same athletes he had at the start of his coaching career are the seniors and juniors this year. He said that connection made the season that much more fun.
“It’s been cool to see. Some of these kids when you just got them were just young, stupid and crazy, to now where they’re pretty much adults for how much they’ve grown and how much better they’ve gotten,” Hiedeman said. “That’s probably been the coolest thing. When I was in high school they were just watching me and now I’m watching them from the sidelines and coaching them.”
Another aspect Hiedeman enjoyed is that he got to coach with his former classmate, Jordan Christensen. The pair, who have been friends since Hiedeman moved to Breckenridge when he was in elementary school, have been inseparable since then. Even though it wasn’t by choice all the time.
“He lives in the country not very far away from me, our dads went to school together, we went through high school being best friends playing football and basketball together, going out to lunch every single day, having every single class together, we go to Concordia and he lived right down the hall from me, friends throughout college and then we both go to Breck to both coach football,” Hiedeman said. “I didn’t know if I wanted to exactly be a teacher and he didn’t know if he wanted to be a teacher, but we kind of both fell into it with our love for sports. Coaching brought us more to teaching than anything.”
Hiedeman may have known a lot of his players since they were 12, but Christensen has known some of the athletes since the day they were born. The former Breckenridge football and basketball standout now coaches both of his brothers (Noah and Jonah) on the hardwood. He was also Jonah’s lineman coach during the football season.
“That’s been good. I’ve been coaching those two in the summer a lot for basketball, so I’m kind of used to that for hoops, but football was different,” Christensen said. “I liked it a lot, but I’ve got to remember to coach all of them and not just be super hard on my brothers as much because I tend to get like that a little bit.”
Christensen, who started on Concordia’s offensive line, works with both sides of the line and special teams during the football season. With coaches Joel Herder and Brad Lindberg manning the defensive and offensive lines, respectively, Christensen said it was an interesting experience working with his former coaches.
“That was kind of an adjustment this fall with Coach Herder and Coach Lindberg. They were great to work with and it was a lot of fun,” Christensen said.
Playing in college helped Christensen improve his knowledge of the game. The former Cobber is always trying to get the current Cowboys to dig deeper with one of the loudest yelling voices on the sideline.
“I think I learned a lot in college. Both schematically about the game and just how to play hard,” Christensen said. “Kids a lot of times they think they’re playing hard, but in college you kind of learn there’s a whole ‘nother level.”
The former Cowboy just wrapped up student teaching and will look to securing his teaching license in January. He hopes to continue his stalking of Hiedeman by looking for a job in Breck.
“That would be an ideal situation. It’s kind of my dream job to coach and teach in Breck,” Christensen said. “(Coaching is) a lot of fun, you get to work with some great people and it’s fun to go back. People really don’t understand what Breckenridge is like unless you’ve been in it. There’s a lot of pride and the community’s great. It’s just fun to give back.”