BROOKINGS – Bobcat football coach Lee Schmidt has retired.
He turned in his resignation Wednesday and spoke with the team later that night.
Schmidt just finished his 36th season as a Brookings High School football coach, including eighth as the head.
The time was right, he said.
“I have a granddaughter now and my parents are getting older. I don’t know, it just got to a point where I just knew it was time,” Schmidt noted. “I knew it was time to start doing some other things; find some other adventures. So I’m kind of just set in my mind and decided not to tell anybody except for a couple people that needed to know before the season started and then when the time was right, I let the news out.”
He got his start with the Bobcats as a volunteer assistant in 1984
“So quite a while. I was thinking about it the other day – this next fall will be the first time in 44 years that I haven’t gone to a fall camp either as a player or a coach. Almost half a century!” added Schmidt, a South Dakota State graduate who was an assistant at BHS from 1985-2011 before taking over as head coach.
“I was thinking about it during the season. I was just thinking that it’s been a nice run – a lot of fun being a Brookings coach; great kids; I’ve worked with some really consistent coaches that I’ve been with a long time.
“Thinking back, Don Campbell, who I started with and was doing a practical with – I didn’t play my fifth year at SDSU and I was getting into my teaching stuff and I met him and he said, ‘well why don’t you come out and start coaching.’ So that was my volunteer year in 1984 so I came out with the Bobcats with Coach Campbell.
“I was with him for a couple years before he left and then Gary (Maffett) became head coach. We had a long run – Coach (Scott) Miller and Coach (Ken) Tiefenthaler have been together it seems like forever. So a lot of great people. Dave Kuhlmann and Bob Ritter and then just a whole host of kids that also volunteer. In fact, (Mike) Kesler over at Rochester was the coach of the year over there and won some championships. So I’ve been associated with a lot of good people.”
Schmidt went 39-45 as a head coach, per archives on the Bobcats’ MaxPreps page.
He guided the Red and Black to a 10-2 mark in 2019 and an appearance in the Class 11AA final – which was contested in Brookings. The ‘Cats fell 32-16 to two-time defending-champion Pierre in what was far and away the Governors’ most competitive contest of the campaign.
Brookings was also runner-up in 2014 after going 8-3. The Bobcats fell 34-33 in overtime to Yankton after coming up short on a two-point conversion that would have sealed the title. That marked the first of the Bucks’ back-to-back crowns.
As an assistant, Schmidt was a part of Brookings teams that won an 11AA championship in 2000 placed second in 1998 and 2001.
He will teach for at least one more school year (2020-21), he said, making up his mind on his educating future by the middle of 2020.