HELENA — This past Saturday was a special one for Carroll College football. Not only did the Saints beat a nationally ranked Division III opponent for their first victory at home, but the win was head coach Mike Van Diest’s 200th in his legendary career.
In typical Van Diest fashion, he wasn’t patting himself back about the accomplishment.
“I don’t look at it. I’ve been around long enough, something should fall into place,” said Van Diest. “We’ve had some great teams here. I remember win No. 1, and that was the most important win in our program, was the first time we beat a (top-five) ranked team in Rocky (Mountain College) that year, our very first game in 1999. What’s great is that (offensive coordinator) Nick Howlett has been along every single one of those, and Beaugh Meyer, I told him, I think he’s been around for 100 of them. He’s been here longer than all the players.”
That is exactly how Van Diest has arrived at this milestone — focusing on the players and letting the rest fall into place.
“We didn’t even talk about 200 at all. Out biggest point coming in was just getting a win. We hadn’t got a win all year yet,” said defensive back Ryan Beaulieu. “And I think (Saturday) we were more worried about not being beat on our field, not having that team come up here and beat us and not being able to sing our fight song. So I think we didn’t focus on that. We focused on that after. I didn’t even know it was 200 wins, that was surprising to me, but that wasn’t our focus yet.”
It was certainly the focus the second the game was over, with the coach receiving phone calls of congratulations and hugs and handshakes on the field. But if it were up to Van Diest, he and everyone else should just move on to Carroll’s next game at Montana State-Northern.
“Every win is special and every win is different. It’s a number, not something I set out to do, it’s not why I came back to coach,” said Van Diest. “I came back to coach these seniors. I wanted to be around these guys, because I love Drew Melton, McBride Galt, Troy Arntson and Connor McGree and Ryan Beaulieu and all these guys, Reece Quade. Every one of these seniors is a great guy, and that’s what, that makes it special.”