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home : columns : dewey moede May 27, 2016

4/4/2014 10:43:00 AM
Boelter passes on relationship with God

One of the joys I have is sharing about people from my hometown of Windom. As I have said many times, Windom provided me a strong foundation in my life, one that I refer to many times to this day. I pray you can say the same about your hometown.

I grew up just down the road from a man named Franz Boelter. He graduated in 1970; I graduated in 1974 with his wife, Cindy. Franz and Cindy are pictured here in this story. We all grew up with Godly parents, teachers, coaches, neighbors and more. Two of the coaches that come to mind who had an awesome influence on both Franz and I are Jack Kelly, who coached baseball and basketball, and Ron Meyer, who coached football. Great men of God. It's all about that one thing, your relationship with God, and then everything else flows from Him.

Franz just announced his retirement from coaching basketball. He is in the Minnesota Basketball Hall-Of-Fame. What Coach Kelly, Coach Meyer and many other Godly people poured into Franz has resulted in this Hall-Of-Fame life, a life for God. You see, that one thing, our relationship with God, writes our life story! And what a life Franz and Cindy have lived!

The Following was written by Miles Trump of the Faribault Daily News in Faribault on March 5. It is reprinted with his permission:

By MILES TRUMP mtrump@faribault.com

Franz Boelter knew entering this season, his 36th as a head boys basketball coach, that it could be his last.

The prospect of retirement had been drawing closer to Boelter for the last couple years. On Tuesday, three days after Bethlehem Academy's season came to a close, he made it official.

Boelter, 62, a Hall of Fame boys basketball coach who has led the Cardinals' program for the past 30 years, announced on Tuesday his retirement as head boys basketball coach. He will remain BA's head volleyball coach and director of advancement.

"I think I knew probably shortly after the middle of the season that it was time," said Boelter, who coached what turned out to be his final game on Saturday at the Mayo Civic Center in Rochester in the Cardinals' 48-41 Section 1A West finals loss to Goodhue. "It had nothing to do with how our season was going. It had nothing to do with the kids that we have coming up. . . . In talking to (my coaching friends who have retired), they simply said, 'You'll know when it's time.'

"I know that after 36 years, it's time."

In a letter announcing his retirement, Boelter wrote of the challenges of coaching two sports in back-to-back seasons with little or no break - they also tend to overlap - while maintaining his duties in the school's advancement office as factors for stepping down as boys basketball coach. He has coached volleyball for 22 years and has a combined 1,123 career wins in both sports.

"I think it's in fairness to me and my family and in fairness to our players," Boelter said. "They needed somebody that's eager and ready and can give the program everything they've got. This could be an exciting time for BA basketball."

Boelter gathered together the school's sixth-through-12th-grade boys basketball players in the cafeteria after school on Tuesday (March 4) to announce his retirement. He told them it had nothing to do with them and that he still loved coaching basketball, but that "I'm worn out and my wife and I deserve some time together here."

"It's sad," Boelter said. "I certainly have a sad feeling right now. I got choked up more than I thought I would talking with our players today."

Senior Mitch Malecha, the only four-year starter for BA's boys basketball team this season, was one of those players in the cafeteria.

"For him personally, I felt good for him," Malecha said. "He's put in a lot of time in the game, and he sacrificed a lot of his time for us, so it's good for him to be able to call it quits and to enjoy time with his family and friends."

His legacy
In 36 years of coaching boys basketball, Boelter compiled a 613-290 record, putting him seventh on Minnesota's career wins list. In 2012, he was inducted into the Minnesota State Boys Basketball Coaches Association Hall of Fame.
The vast majority of those wins came at BA, where Boelter finished with a 558-223 record, which includes 14 Gopher Conference crowns, eight district or sub-section championships and four section titles. In two of BA's four state appearances under Boelter, the Cardinals finished Class A State runners-up in 1993 and took third in Class A in 1994. Boelter began coaching in 1978 in Medford, where the Tigers won two Gopher titles and finished District 4A runners-up three times under his watch.

Some of his coaching accomplishments can't be quantified by numbers, though. Malecha, who played through an early season knee injury that hampered his senior season, learned from Boelter about basketball on the court and life off of it, he said.

"For this year, I got hurt right away. I was kind of a trainwreck," Malecha said. "Basketball's been my life for four or five years on the varsity team. But in the long run, that's not going to really matter. It's the person I am off the court, and he kind of opened my eyes to that."

Jacob Kuhlman, a 2013 graduate who played for Boelter for two years, echoed similar sentiments.

"Coach Boelter was not only a good coach. But he was an even better man," Kuhlman told the Daily News via Twitter. "He really taught us that not only family but that God was important."

Jake Hanson, BA's current head girls basketball coach and a former BA boys basketball player who graduated in 2009, was still trying to wrap his head around the announcement on Tuesday.

"Right now, it seems very surreal," he said.

Hanson drew lessons from Boelter as both a player and a coach, he said. He knows coaches such as Boelter are a rare find.

"Just to see the work he's done and the program he's built in his 30 years at BA is just awesome, and to be part of it was already pretty cool," Hanson said. "But I mean, just looking at, he's changed the culture of basketball at Bethlehem Academy and really, he's known state-wide. He's very respected and has done great things."

"Bethlehem Academy is very grateful to have had someone like Franz Boelter leading our boys basketball program for the past 30 years," BA Activities Director Ed Friesen said in a press release. "He is a great coach, but more importantly, he has taught our boys basketball players many values and skills that they can use for the rest of their lives. They have learned far more than just how to win at the game of basketball."

What's next?
Boelter will continue on his 22-year tenure coaching BA's volleyball program, a perennial power that is 510-130 and has won six Class A state championships - and finished runner-up four times - during his career, including three in the last five years.

Boelter's decision to continue coaching volleyball centered around a few factors: The volleyball season is shorter and takes place during a point in the year when Boelter's work in the advancement office is less busy, he said. Practices also take place after school, which frees him up for meetings and eating dinner at home.

Despite 36 years of memories, Boelter has no trouble putting to words the best part of his career.

"Relationships," he said. "That's the best part of it is all the relationships. We've been blessed in our lives, the Boelter family, with being surrounded by so many good people over these 36 years, people that become lifelong friends. And you get to watch players continue on after BA and become great young men in their community and their work, and then they raise families, and I've already coached a lot of the kids of parents who I coached years before them. There's no question the best part of it is the relationships."

Bethlehem Academy posted the open position and began the interview process after spring break, Friesen said. For the first time in three decades, the boys basketball team will have a new head coach.

"The biggest thing is how grateful I am and how privileged I have been to be able to be part of this school community and our basketball community," Boelter said. "Obviously I'm still going to be here in my advancement capacity, I'm still going to be the volleyball coach. It's been a real privilege to be able to coach basketball here."

Reach sports reporter Miles Trump at 333-3129, or follow him on Twitter @FDNmilestrump

Great write-up Miles! God Bless you! Thank you for allowing us to use your story on Franz.

Did you read the quotes of the players . . . God and family . . . Go back and read those quotes again. What influence are you being with young people? That one thing, our relationship with God, has now flowed from Franz and Cindy into all those kids under Franz's coaching! Amen!

What an influence for God! What a ministry! Amen!

I pray this testimony of Franz and Cindy has inspired you, and will inspire you to a closer relationship with God and family.

As I asked the folks at Crestview Baptist where I preached recently, What would a article about your life say? What will your obituary say? That's a calling for all of us to live a Godly life. It was Mark Twain who said, "Live your life so that at your funeral even the undertaker cries."

It's all about that one thing.

God Bless you Franz and Cindy forever and ever!

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