BECKER – You don’t expect to find a coach with experience at the NFL level serving as an assistant in the Granite Ridge Conference.
But that will be the case this season in Becker where Chris Meidt has joined head coach Dwight Lundeen’s staff as an assistant head coach and will work with the team’s quarterbacks.
Meidt was the quarterbacks coach in Washington in 2008 and 2009 –– lured to the NFL by friend and then-team head coach Jim Zorn after spending six successful seasons as the head coach at Division III St. Olaf of the MIAC.
Prior to that, he was the offensive coordinator at Bethel from 1995-2001, helping Royals head coach Steve Johnson build the program into the national power it has since become.
Even before that, though, Meidt –– the former Minneota standout whose father Gerhard is a member of the Minnesota High School Football Coaches Association Hall of Fame –– was a member of Lundeen’s staff in Becker from 1993-94.
“Of all the people I’ve worked with over the last 45 years, he has the most intellectual football mind I’ve ever come across,” Lundeen said. “He’s just an amazing coach.”
But Meidt hasn’t been doing any coaching –– at least officially –– since being dismissed in Washington after Zorn was fired following the 2009 season.
Instead, he has been in Wisconsin where he worked as a regional market manager for Wal-Mart. He and his family resided in Cedarburg where he helped out here and there with the football program for which his son Alex played.
But Meidt recently made a career change, taking over as the chief operating officer for North Risk Partners –– the parent company of Apollo Insurance in St. Cloud among others.
And it is that job that has led him back to Becker.
“I loved working for Wal-Mart, but what I really wanted to do was run a small business,” Meidt said. “I did a lot of networking in Minnesota and Wisconsin and I talked to a lot of small companies. This job seemed like a perfect fit.
“So then the question became did we let our kids finish school in Cedarburg (Alex and twin sister Evee will be juniors this fall)? Or did we move? There weren’t too many places we could see moving them to.
“And while football isn’t our only consideration, it’s been a big part of our life. So it came down to the fact that there were only two programs I felt good about bringing Alex into. There was Hutchinson –– where he could play for my brother-in-law Andy Rostberg –– and there was Becker.
“Hutchinson didn’t fit geographically with where I needed to be for my job. Becker did. So we made the move.”
Alex will play cornerback for the Bulldogs this season and may see time as both a punt returner and a wide receiver as well. His father, meanwhile, told Lundeen he wanted to help out in any way he could be of service.
“I love to coach, I love working with kids and I love being around my son,” Meidt said. “So I told (Lundeen) that I was open to taking on whatever role he needed me to, if any. And he thought this would work. So I’ll help out with his coordinators (Mike Lundeen and Hokan Bengston) who both played for me at Bethel. And I’ll work with the quarterbacks.
“During the week, because of my job, I might be hit-and-miss at practice depending on what’s going on. But I’ll be there to help on Sunday nights when they put the game plan in. And I’ll be on the sideline during games.”
Becker senior quarterback Michael Veldman said it has been great having an experienced voice like Meidt around.
“I’m just trying to soak up everything he says,” Veldman said. “I know all about his background and everything he’s done. You can learn so much from working with someone like that.”
But just because Meidt has returned to coaching in this role does not mean he has a desire to return to the profession full-time.
“To be honest, the first component of my life has always been faith and I believe the Lord has put different opportunities in front of me and called me to different things,” said Meidt, who will be there when the Bulldogs open the season at Class 6A power Minnetonka on Aug. 29.
“Football, during its time, was great. But now I’ve moved on to other things. That doesn’t exclude football. And to be honest, right now doing this, I really get the best of both worlds. I have the freedom to still be involved, but it’s really more a labor of love for me.
“There isn’t that pressure that comes with it being your primary career.”
This is the opinion of Times sports writer Frank Rajkowski. Contact him at 320-255-8772 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @rajko1973.