Chad Stadem relays a play into receiver Geno Taylor-Burshiem during a game in early 2012. Stadem's teams went 38-13 while at Flandreau. He will look to continue that success at Sioux Falls Washington in 2013-14. (Submitted Photo)
It was announced last week that Flandreau’s head football coach since 2008, Chad Stadem, will be leaving the Fliers at the end of the year to take the same position at Sioux Falls Washington.
Stadem’s departure to Washington High School is a big hit for the Flandreau football team but despite not having him for next year, the work ethic and ideals he has cemented into the heads of his Flier pupils will last for a long time.
The Dell Rapid native moved to Flandreau in 2007 when he got a teaching job at the school after being in Howard for seven years. That is where his success as a football coach began.
In just his fourth year as the head coach in Howard, he coached his squad to the 2004 State 11B championship.
Just three years later, Stadem made his move to Flandreau, but he wasn’t given the head coaching job until 2008 when the Fliers went just 3-6.
But Stadem is a competitor; he knew that if he could instill a work ethic in the kids to work harder than their opponents, even during the off season, they could win, just as his teams did in Howard.
“They had good success before I came and had been well coached,” Stadem said about Flandreau’s tradition. “I just think we made some simple changes and moved it forward,” he added.
Those simple changes made a huge impact in the team’s success. Just a year removed from their 3-6 record, Stadem’s Fliers went 8-2 in 2009 and he returned to glory in 2010 when he coached the Fliers to their first ever State Championship, defeating Mobridge-Pollock 28-27.
While a coach never wants to take full credit for his team’s accomplishments, Stadem’s ability to adapt to his player’s abilities is what makes him great at what he does.
“I was a traditional wing t guy in Howard,” Stadem mentioned. “When I came here, I watched the athletes coming and knew I had to fit a style to their abilities. I believe that as a coach you need to give the kids an identity and it starts with the offense.”
That identity has led Stadem to a 38-13 record at Flandreau and a 71-30 record overall. He is 13-8 in the playoffs with those two aforementioned championships. His teams haven’t lost a game in Conference since joining, leading them to four straight Big East Conference titles (six overall). He has coached 19 All-State players, seven Honorable Mention All-State players and three Honorable Mention All-Americans. But Stadem will be the first person to tell you it wasn’t because of him. “It’s not because of my coaching but rather, they are just good players.”
But the time has come for Stadem to move forward and take on the next challenge and although he wasn’t openly looking to move away from Flandreau, when former Washington High School coach Brian Hermanson resigned after leading his squad to the 2012 11AA state championship, it was an opportunity he couldn’t pass up.
“I was already doing some things with our (Flandreau’s) offense that would have made some big changes this coming season. So I was researching those changes and looking to implement them this spring. Then this job opened up, and we knew this was the one challenge that we could not pass up,” Stadem said.
But when he applied, some would probably tell you that he was an underdog to get the position at Washington, who had won 47 of their last 50 games and won three of the last four 11AA state championships, and that Washington would probably find a big name coach from another 11AA school or bring someone in from Minnesota or another surrounding state. But that thought never crossed Stadem’s mind.
“I just presented who I am and the type of person I am and my beliefs. What you see is what you get,” he said about the interview. “If they didn’t think I was a fit, then I would continue to do what I did here in Flandreau,” he added.
But they did believe he was a fit, and handed him over the keys to the highly polished machine.
But as mentioned previously, people of Washington High School and their fans have high expectations for their football team – that doesn’t seem to be scaring Stadem away in the least.
“I am looking forward to those expectations. It should be fun. The kids that I have coached know that I put a lot of expectations on myself to help them become the best they can be.”
Stadem has some expectations of his own heading into the position. “My expectations are the same as always. Outwork everyone we play, prepare to the best of our abilities and do not allow fear to prevent us from using your God given abilities.”
But until the football season kicks off in late August, Washington fans will just have to wait in anticipation to see what Stadem has in store for them. In the meantime, he will go about his business in Flandreau and continue to teach as well as coach the Track and Field team, hopefully without any distractions from the big announcement. “I expect the kids to keep working the way they have been. The success they will have is about them, their teammates, and the Flandreau community. Not the coach.”
As he prepares for his new adventure, he can’t help but think about all the good that has come from being here in Flandreau. “I honestly believe that I was brought here to grow and mature as a person. I think my maker knew this is where I needed to be at that time in my life because the people here could help me become a better person,” Stadem said. “I owe Flandreau more that it owes me. I did meet my wife here and that in itself has been a blessing to me.”
Meeting his wife is more than likely on the top of the list for memories but he certainly has plenty more. “Coffee in the early morning hours with the two Don’s and Sandy, creating new life-long friends, listening to the Booster Club gentlemen tell stories, and many fun times with the kids.”
His impact on the program is obvious but his impact on the kids is what goes unnoticed to most, but the impact the kids had on him, is what makes what he does worthwhile.
“When it was announced, I had many text messages, emails, and phone calls from former athletes. Some of the nice things they had to say really made an impact on me personally,” Stadem said. “As educators, we sometimes forget that we can and do help make a difference in our students. I think it is vital that we make kids feel like they are very important because they are,” he added.
When school ends in late May, Stadem will no longer be a part of the Flandreau staff or the football team, but he will always be a part of the Flandreau family.