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Thursday, March 22, 2018

Beloved DCHS tennis coach says he has simply retired

By Eric Killelea

Ranger-Review Staff Writer

Glendive’s tennis coach, Rich Lindgren, recently retired nearly a year after announcing that he would return for the 2018 season. 

Lindgren’s resignation brings a sudden end to a 47-year tenure that included 943 career wins, 38 Eastern A Divisional titles and a state record for coaching the most championship teams with 13 boys and 12 girls winning the crown. After last season, he received his third State Coach of the Year award from the Montana Coaches Association in honor of his girls state co-championship.

Earlier this month, DCHS officials posted openings for the head coach position, as well as two assistant coach jobs which were last year filled by Tami Staiger (Lindgren’s daughter) and Todd Opp.

“Mr. Lindgren declined the tennis position after it was offered to him,” DCHS Principal Wade Murphy confirmed in an email to the Ranger-Review on Jan. 25.

In regards to assistant coaches leaving as well, Murphy added: “All coaching positions are year to year contracts and once a head coach has vacated the position, anyone is welcome to apply. Typically, we do not hire assistants without a head, so after the head coach is hired we allow them to be part of the interview process for their assistants. There has been some interest expressed in the position and hopefully we can start interviewing soon.”

When contacted via text message Monday, Lindgren told the Ranger-Review that he had “no comment.” Then he was asked if he could confirm turning down the position. “I have retired and hope the community continues to support our schools and the children well as they have done in the past,” he replied. “The schools are so important to our kids.” 

Lindgren grew up in northern Minnesota, before attending the University of Minnesota in Duluth. In 1970, he moved to Glendive, where then-DCHS principal John Johnson asked if he wanted to make extra cash and become the head tennis coach. He has since been inducted into both the state of Montana Coaches Hall of Fame in 1996 and the National Coaches Hall of Fame in 2000. He was named the National Coach of the Year in 1995 and 2002.

Last season, Lindgren guided the girls to another state championship victory, as the boys placed third. After the season, Glendive Mayor Jerry Jimison was presenting the retirement awards at the Spring Sports Awards Banquet when he mistakenly said that Lindgren was hanging up his coaching racket. At that time, Lindgren told the Ranger-Review that he planned to stay on coaching even after retiring from his teaching advanced chemistry, chemistry and biology at the high school. 

“You know I didn’t know I was retiring from coaching,” Lindgren said at that time. “It’s my intention to keep coaching.”

Reach Eric Killelea at rrsports@rangerreview.com.

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