Longtime Concordia Football Coach Jim Christopherson Retires
Announced His Retirement Effective on Dec. 31, 2000.
Oct. 10, 2000 (Moorhead, Minn.) -- Jim Christopherson head football coach at Concordia College in Moorhead announced his retirement from coaching at a press conference today. His retirement will be effective on December 31st, 2000.
"There was no single deciding factor in this decision, " Christopherson stated. "It was a decision that was made before the season started, one that was based on spending more time with my family."
Christopherson, 62, is in his 32nd year as head coach of Concordia football. He is only the second football coach the school has employed since 1941. He took over for the legendary Jake Christiansen, and has fashioned a career record of 216-98-7 while at the helm for the Cobbers. His 216 wins are the most by the seven coaches that have served at the school, and places him in an elite group of coaches who have won over 200 games at a single college. He is currently third on the list of wins among active coaches at the NCAA Division III level.
Concordia has won two national championships and 11 MIAC titles under Christopherson. The national titles came in 1978 when the Cobbers defeated Findlay College (OH) 7-0, and 1981 when they shared the title with Austin College (TX). The Cobbers were also national runners-up in his first season in 1969. During a span from 1976 until 1990 the Cobbers finished in the top two of the conference 13 times out of the 15 years. His 179 wins in the MIAC are second on the all-time list, and he has guided Concordia to postseason play seven times.
"What Jim Christopherson means to Concordia College goes well beyond the national and conference titles his teams have amassed over the last 32 years," said Concordia President Thomas W. Thomsen. "Most important, he has served as a championship-caliber mentor and role model for scores of young people who have had the honor and privilege of playing for him."
Christopherson, a native of Henning, MN , became head coach in 1969 succeeding legendary coach Jake Christiansen. Prior to taking the position, he was an assistant under Christiansen for six years. Christopherson is a 1960 graduate of Concordia where he was captain of the Cobbers in 1959, and was named the MIAC Most Valuable Player that season. After graduation Jim played professional football for the Minnesota Vikings for two years (he led them in scoring in 1962) and played one year for Toronto in the Canadian Football League.
Under his tutelage Concordia has had 17 All-American players and 121 All-MIAC athletes. He has coached numerous players who have gone on to try out for professional football teams, most notably Barry Bennett, who played with the New York Jets and current assistant coach Dave Klug who played four seasons with the Kansas City Chiefs.
"I took the job at Concordia and tried to carry on the tradition that Jake Christiansen had for 28 years." Christopherson said. "I was young and idealistic and wanted to coach."
After 31 years Christopherson has surpassed Christiansen in wins, years coaching and championship titles. He has only had four losing seasons in his tenure. Throughout his career he has won many individual coaching awards. He has been voted by the conference coaches as MIAC Coach of the Year six times, and in 1981 was named the NAIA National Coach of the Year. In 1995 Jim was inducted into the Minnesota Coaches Hall of Fame. He is a past president of the NAIA Football Coaches Association.
"Football is the trademark for Concordia athletics," Concordia Athletic Director Armin Pipho stated at the press conference. "Under Jim's leadership Concordia has gained success and respect throughout the nation."
"I am a career coach and that is what I wanted to be," reminisced Christopherson as he ended the press conference.
After today, the "career coach" has five more games remaining, including a grand finale with St. John's on November 11th. A match-up that will find Christopherson coaching one last time against adversary and long time peer John Gagliardi.
Christopherson will stay on at Concordia and help in the process of finding only the third football coach in sixty years at the school. He will officially retire from Concordia on December 31st and will take a year off from any professional activity to spend time with his wife, Sandy, who recently retired from teaching elementary school.
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