DILLON — Few coaches in Montana have seen as much success in their careers as Dillon’s Rick Nordahl. After 28 years and multiple championships, that career has come to an end.
Nordahl served as an assistant to Terry Thomas for 23 years before heading the Beavers’ football program for the past five. Following Thomas’ five state titles in seven appearances was no easy task.
“Terry built the foundation of the program and a lot of us assistant coaches were with him,” Nordahl said. “I knew I couldn’t fill his shoes, but I knew that it was going to be a team effort. I haven’t really had time to sit back and reflect on all that I’ve accomplished, but I know it has been a wild ride.”
Although he didn’t have the longevity, Nordahl enjoyed similar success. His Dillon squads played in four state championship games and won three titles, but he was more impressed with the character of his kids than what they achieved on the field.
“There’s so much more to football than Friday Night Lights,” he said. “I can’t say enough about the kids in our program — the character and the class that they have. To take the show on the road and to play with the sportsmanship that they do, they do such a great job.”
But above the wins and the players who have come through the program, Nordahl has coached with most of his staff for over 20 years.
“My fondest memory, bar none, would be the time I got to spend with all of the coaches. Those are countless hours of joy and friendships,” he said. “We’re a band of brothers and those are the fondest memories that I’ll take away from this experience.”
A new coach has not been announced, but offensive coordinator Brett Carver will handle the offseason duties until that decision is made.
Nordahl is stepping down from his position, but football will still play a major role in his day-to-day activities. He will continue to teach at Beaverhead County High School, while spending time with his son Brett, who is the Twin Bridges head coach, and Todd, who is a redshirt freshman at Montana Western. He will also be happily spending time with his wife and picking up bow hunting for the first time since beginning his wild ride almost 30 years ago.