Gottsleben Leaves Remarkable Legacy At USD

Karl's TV & Appliance Athlete of the Week

VERMILION, S.D.  —  After 33 years in Vermillion at the University of South Dakota, it’s easy to forget that track coach Dave Gottsleben is actually an alum of arch rival South Dakota State.

“You know I just felt like man, this is a great opportunity to learn and, you know, I came here probably a little bit wet behind the ears. I was 30 years old and maybe not ready for it.” Gottsleben says.

Gottsleben learned quickly and built the program with far fewer luxeries than he has today.

“You look at today’s world where you have six coaches and you got a throw coach, a jump coach and all those. (Back then) you were all. There’s a pride factor as far as I’m concerned in that, in southeast South Dakota, I got the opportunities of a lifetime.” Gottsleben says.

And that would include the transition to Division One which, after stints at Menno High School and Dakota State, was a challenge that excited him.

“In recruiting you had some dollars that you could go out and, with the Dakota Dome being a great facility, you could attract some pretty good kids which we did.” Dave says.

“You see a lot of coaches flip flopping jobs much to quickly and their careers at certain places seem way to short. He’s one of those traditional coaches that made his career here and has made an impact.” USD Athletic Director David Herbster says.

20 conference titles, several regional and national coach of the year honors only begin to scratch the surface of his legacy at the U.

“Watch the student athletes come back. That connection that he has with the student athletes for the past 33 years is what sticks out to me the most.” Herbster says.

Maybe that’s why it’s hard to call this a retirement since the job never really was one for Dave.

“In my coaching style I was never probably the sharpest knife in the drawer, I’ll be honest with you, but I really cared for kids. I’ve never worked a day in my life. This has always been fun.” Gottsleben says.

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