USC coach retires after an illustrious 54 years
After 54 years of coaching cross country, track and basketball at the high school level, United South Central coach Kent Viesselman has finally called it a career.
During his coaching life, Viesselman, a Blue Earth native, has compiled a litany of unique achievements. They include producing a whopping 39 conference team championships, and three state true team titles. Additionally, Viesselman’s teams participated in state-wide competition a total of 40 times throughout his distinguished career in high school athletics.
Viesselman says the development of his student-athletes both on and off the track is one of his proudest accomplishments.
“Our program has produced a lot of doctors and a lot of lawyers, and a total of 15 of my former athletes are track or cross country coaches right now,” Viesselman says. “Being a part of their growth and development is something that I will miss the most.”
The retired coach reveals his 2015 induction into the Minnesota Track Coaches Hall of Fame as one of the most significant milestones of his coaching career. Viesselman became the only active coach to attain such a distinction.
Viesselman explains he got his first taste of cross country running in 1957 as a sophomore at Blue Earth High School. According to Viesselman, he happened to be the first-ever cross country athlete in the school’s history.
“I’d been on crutches four falls in a row and the track coach at the time said that if I would run cross country, I could be manager of the football team,” Viesselman says. “In retrospect, he wanted to get me running cross country in the fall so I could be ready for track in the spring,” he laughs.
After graduating BE in 1960, the future coach continued his passion for running at Minnesota State University, in Mankato. There, Viesselman ran for two years with the MSU cross country team, and three years with the track and field team.
Viesselman credits his father, Cort Viesselman, as being a key influence in pursuing a career in athletics. An accomplished athlete in his own right, Cort also attended MSU where he competed in track and field, gymnastics and football.
“My dad was a great athlete and he was very supportive all the way through my career as well,” the track coach says.
Viesselman’s former college coach, Earl “Bud” Myers, also served as a major influence. A Michigan native, Myers coached MSU teams for 31 years, and the school’s athletic field house now bears the name of the legendary cross country and football coach.
“He was hard core and old school,” Viesselman says of Myers. “He was extremely organized and extremely fair. You always knew what he was thinking, and he did not have any hidden agendas.”
In the fall of 1964, Viesselman got his first professional coaching experience in Lamberton. There, he coached boys cross country and track, as well as basketball for six years before moving to Wells in 1970.
Married in 1965 to his wife Diane, cross country and track happened to be a family affair for the Viesselman household for many years. The couple’s son Kent, and daughter Kris, both participated in track and cross country. Meanwhile, their youngest son Craig competed in pole vaulting among other sports.
The accomplished high school coach also bonded with many of his student-athletes. In particular, Diane Viesselman recalls camping trips which included as many as 29 high school athletes.
“We had a great time going on all those camping trips, but it was a heck of a lot of work to feed all those kids,” she chuckles.
So what is next for the retired coach of 54 years? According to Viesselman, he plans to do plenty of biking, and spend time at his camper in Lanesboro, Minnesota. Viesselman says the inviting atmosphere is what draws him to the small southeastern town of just under 800 people.
“I think it is an interesting place. It’s laid back and I think it is a very friendly town,” Viesselman shares.