Chris Murphy, Published November 13 2012
Longtime Fergus Falls coach Risbrudt retiresFERGUS FALLS, Minn. – It’s hard to imagine the sidelines on a Friday night in Fergus Falls not hosting the playcalling of Richard Risbrudt. But next season, the only decisions Risbrudt will be making will revolve around whether he’s going fishing, hunting, playing with his new grandchild or a combination of the three.
After 35 years of coaching football – 27 of which were at Hillcrest Lutheran and the last eight at Fergus Falls – Risbrudt has decided to call it a career.
And what a career it was.
Risbrudt coached in 350 games – 202 of which were wins – 11 state tournament appearances, six championship games and a state title in 2001 to go along with many section and conference championships.
Pending school board approval today, the 58-year-old Risbrudt will end something that he’s been doing over half his life.
“I could just sense it was time,” Risbrudt said. “I’m looking forward to spending more time with my family and fishing with my friends. Nothing forced me to resign. I still love the game. I could just sense it was time.”
Risbrudt could sense this was his last campaign before two-a-days even kicked in.
“Last June, I could sense for the first time that I was losing love and passion for the sport,” Risbrudt said. “I just wasn’t quite there, even though we were having a great team coming back. I just sensed it was time to move on.”
This isn’t the first time Risbrudt has stepped away from the game, as he did not coach in 1985 or 1986. Risbrudt, however, insists he is no Brett Favre when it comes to repeated comebacks following retirements.
“I thought I was burnt out in 1985, but I wasn’t,” Risbrudt said. “I always knew I was going to take a couple years off to enhance my teaching degree. I’m definitely sure this time around.”
If Risbrudt ever feels unsure about leaving the game, come December, he will have a reason staring at him from his own arms.
“I won’t miss all the time it takes to put together a great organization,” Risbrudt said. “That is time away from your family you can’t make up. Our first grandchild is coming in December, and I’m looking forward to being there.”
Just because there isn’t a whistle in his mouth doesn’t mean Risbrudt can be kept away from the football field. He’ll be watching his son Nick play at Concordia College.
“I’m going to enjoy watching Nick play,” Risbrudt said.
A new Risbrudt could be coming to a sideline near you, as Risbrudt’s son, Jeffrey, is graduating from Minnesota State Moorhead with the hopes of becoming a math teacher and football coach.
“Jeffrey has been with me forever,” Risbrudt said. “I can’t wait to watch him coach. I want to see if he’ll run the same offense as me.”
As for the career, Risbrudt will always have the memories: From the 9-man state championship with Hillcrest in 2001 to coaching Division I-bound players like Minnesota right tackle Josh Campion or North Dakota State offensive lineman Adam Schueller.
“I’ll miss the players and being able to work with them and have an impact on their life and teach them life skills,” Risbrudt said. “The game of football is pretty similar to the game of life. I’ll miss my coaches, sports people, radio guys and administrators. I loved every minute of it.
“I am looking forward to getting home early Friday and watching Friday night sports.”
Readers can reach Forum reporter Chris Murphy at (701) 241-5548