Duluth, MN (Northland's NewsCenter) --- Duluth Marshall athletics director and football coach Dave Homstad will be retiring next month after 35 years, and he says things couldn't end on a much higher note.
"I don't have a negative thing to say about this place," Homstad said. "It's been a great 35 years."
Besides serving as football coach and the past 20 years as athletics director, Homstad has also worked at Duluth Marshall as an English teacher, a boy's and girl's basketball coach, and a baseball and softball coach.
"It was fun to be on a football field who believed what you were telling them and went out and did the best they could," Homstad said. "It was fun to be on a basketball court, boy's and girl's, with the same kind of attitude. It was fun on baseball diamonds and softball diamonds, too."
Homstad naturally has some allegiance to the school atop the hill, having earned his high school diploma there, but he said there's one thing that has kept him coming back year after year.
"I think the real joy of being an educator is building relationships with kids," the longtime Hilltopper said. "The ones you do get to build that relationship with, they remain your friends forever and ever."
To find out if that's true with current-day Duluth Marshall students, all you have to do is ask.
"I can honestly say he's almost been like a father figure to me since I came here," Duluth Marshall senior Judd Peterson said. "I struggled when I came to Marshall, and Mr. Homstad took me under his wing and showed me the course."
"He's just a really good guy," senior Peter Vatalaro said. "I talk to him every day, in his office, and he's really helped me through life."
"I feel like I've connected with him really well," senior Angela Katoski said. "It's nice to have someone there that you can talk to, that you can go to with any problems and he's always going to help you out."
To Homstad, that is not so much an added responsibility as it is simply part of his day-to-day life.
"He loves the kids here. That's what he's here for, is the kids," Duluth Marshall athletics assistant Peggy McGregor said. "He has the ability to listen, really listen, for as long as they need it and think before he speaks."
"If you don't want to be around kids, you shouldn't be an educator," Homstad said. "To me, it's just a joy to see them every day."