Eric Peterson, Published April 20 2012
Burgau's tenure reaches second generation of players
The longtime Cobbers baseball coach may call Erik, Kevin; or Michael, Danny; or Erik, Craig.
“I told them from Day 1 that just might be the way it is boys,” said a laughing Burgau, who is in his 34th season as head coach at Concordia.
Burgau coached Kevin Hiedeman, Dan Olson and Craig Simmons in the 1980s. Their three sons – Erik Hiedeman, Michael Olson and Erik Simmons – are playing for Burgau this spring.
“It’s a pretty special situ-ation,” said Erik Simmons, who can remember coming to numerous Concordia homecoming football games with his dad. “You don’t see it that often. … three kids of former play-ers on the same team and the same time with the same coach.”
Erik Hiedeman is a freshman infielder, Mi-chael Olson is a junior outfielder and Erik Sim-mons is a junior pitcher. In some respects, the sons are similar to their fathers, Burgau said.
“Erik Simmons looks ex-actly like his father,” Burgau said. “Michael Olson plays exactly like Danny played. Strong, fast runner, good hitter, would run through that center-field fence if I asked him to do it. Maybe the toughest guy I ever had play for me was Kevin Hiedeman, and Erik is just like that.”
Kevin Hiedeman was headed to North Dakota State to play football after his high school career in Breckenridge, Minn.
Those plans changed, however, when Kevin suf-fered a knee injury while playing in a high school all-star football game.
Soon after that injury, Burgau called Kevin to see if he would be interested in playing baseball for the Cobbers. Kevin would end up playing both baseball and football at Concordia.
“Literally, it was a week before school started here,” Kevin said. “I ended up here because of Bucky, and it was a great move for me to come here. It changed the rest of my life.”
Dan Olson and Craig Simmons, like Kevin Hiedeman, also played football at Concordia. Olson and Simmons played on Concordia’s 1981 team, which won an NAIA co-national championship.
Michael Olson also played football when he first came to Concordia, but is now playing just baseball. Dan Olson said Burgau’s willingness to let his athletes play two sports is one reason his son picked Concordia.
“That just doesn’t always go over everywhere real well,” Dan said.
“My dad always talked about how he enjoyed everything here,” Michael Olson added. “That is what kind of influenced me. He never pushed me toward any school, and I just ended up here.”
When Burgau took over as head baseball coach in 1979, he never envisioned he would coach the sons of former players. Burgau said it’s been satisfying to coach second-generation athletes.
“I’m really proud of that, because those guys played for me and they were good players and they felt good enough about Concordia and our baseball program to send their sons to us,” Burgau said.
Michael Olson has the highest batting average of any Concordia regular, hitting .396 in 27 games with 14 doubles. Erik Hiedeman is batting .301 in 27 games with 11 RBIs.
A 6-foot-5 right-hander, Erik Simmons has a 7.00 ERA in five appearances.
Burgau poked fun at himself when discussing his longevity, bringing up a conversation he recently had with his wife, Penny.
“Like I told Penny the other night, ‘I know I’m getting old when the grandmas of the guys I’m recruiting are starting to look pretty good,’ ” Burgau cracked with a laugh.
Readers can reach Forum reporter Eric Peterson at (701) 241-5513.
Peterson’s blog can be found at peterson.areavoices.com
If you go
What: Concordia baseball dou-bleheader against Macalester
When: 1 p.m. today
Where: Jake Christiansen athletic complex
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