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Baumgarn selected as new Ridgewater football coach

WILLMAR -- Rob Baumgarn became only the fourth head football coach at Ridgewater College (former Willmar Community College), director of communications and marketing Sam Bowen announced on Thursday.

WILLMAR -- Rob Baumgarn became only the fourth head football coach at Ridgewater College (former Willmar Community College), director of communications and marketing Sam Bowen announced on Thursday.

Baumgarn, 30, replaces John Vraa, who resigned June 19 to become the activities director at New London-Spicer.

Because he is getting a late start on the season with training camp set to open on Aug. 11, Baumgarn immediately got on the phone to contact some of the players who will be returning this season to let them know about his system and some of his goals for the season will be.

"I'm really excited about the season," said Baumgarn, currently working with the Willmar Public Schools as youth sports coordinator and as the junior high athletic director.

"But this will be a big challenge to try and get everything ready in such a short time. Replacing Vraa will be the hardest part. I have big shoes to fill."

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Vraa coached the past 13 seasons at Ridgewater, compiling a 68-47 record.

Baumgarn, a 1995 Montevideo High School graduate, is still an active player himself. After being told he was being hired as head coach at Ridgewater, Baumagarn set down his whistle momentarily to don a helmet and pads for practice with his minor league team, the Central Minnesota Thunderbirds of the Mid-America Football League. As a linebacker for the Thunderbirds, Baumgarn is an All-American and the team's defensive captain.

Baumgarn played two seasons for Ridgewater and then two seasons for the University of Minnesota-Crookston where he earned a bachelor of science degree in Sport and Recreational Management and an associate of applied science in Marketing.

After graduating from college, he worked as an assistant football coach at Minnesota-Crookston, working with linebackers, receivers, special teams and the strength and conditioning program. He was also involved in the recruiting process.

He has been playing minor league football the past four seasons and has been an assistant coach at Ridgewater the past three seasons where he coached linebackers and the defensive line.

"I'm not sure what players will be coming this fall," said Baumgarn. "At the junior college level, you don't always know who will be here until they show up. A lot of times they change their mind at the last minute about playing or going to college. So I'm trying to find out where we stand."

Baumgarn feels he will bring a different perspective to the program, simply because he was a defensive player and Vraa, a former standout quarterback in high school, was more of an offensive-minded coach.

"I have some goals in mind and some new ideas," said Baumgarn. "I want to bring the community into the mix and I want to get the players more involved in the community."

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Baumgarn also wants to make sure the players understand that sports aren't the only thing they are at college for.

"Football is a privilege," he said. "But school work is the most important. I want them to be dedicated to the football team and work hard, but I also want them to do the same thing in the classroom."

Baumgarn and his wife, Gretchen, have a 15-month-old son, Drew, and are expecting their second child in late fall.

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