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State coaches to present Rep. Urdahl with award

New London-Spicer coach Dean Urdahl holds the 2002 Class A Girls Cross Country championship trophy, the Wildcats’ third straight won at St. Olaf College in Northfield. File photo by Rand Middleton

ST. PAUL — State Rep. Dean Urdahl, R-Acton Township, will receive recognition for his notable achievements in the field of prep coaching as both a coach and a legislator.

Urdahl will be the lone 2013 recipient of the George Haun Award from the Minnesota State High School Coaches Association. The award is annually presented to citizens who display exemplary leadership and dedication to coaching for at least 25 years. Urdahl spent 29 years as the head New London-Spicer cross country coach and has served the Minnesota House for more than a decade, making significant contributions in each area.

The coaches cited Urdahl as “one of the driving forces that helped pass the MSHSCA Bill of Rights last spring.” One provision he successfully shepherded into state law in 2013 stipulates that parental complaints must not be the sole reason for a school board to not renew a coaching contract. Urdahl previously established a process for dismissal by which coaches have the right to a hearing and disclosure of reasons for their dismissal.

“Both of those provisions are geared toward bringing more transparency to the process,” said Urdahl, who taught history at NLS for 35 years. “Open dialogue between coaches, school officials and the general public will help bring stronger elements of due process to personnel decisions.”

Urdahl coached both the boys and girls cross country teams at NLS and founded the girls program. He guided the Wildcats to a combined 18 state meet appearances, highlighted by three consecutive girls state Class A championships from 2000-02. Urdahl also was a Section 6A girls coach of the year.

Haun served as the first president of the MSHSCA and the award in his name was established in 1986. Urdahl will receive this year’s award at the MSHSCA’s annual hall of fame awards banquet Saturday in St. Paul. Urdahl was nominated to be a Haun recipient during a MSHSCA Executive Committee meeting last summer.