MSU track and cross country teams and coach honored during 2008 homecoming week
Itíll be hard for Wiley Wilson, a 29-year veteran of the Minot State University Athletic Department, to stay out of the spotlight during the 2008 MSU Homecoming.
Wilson, along with all former cross country and track and field student-athletes will take center stage throughout Homecoming Week (Sept. 22-27). An alumni reunion on Friday the 26th at the Holiday Inn Riverside will be held from 7 p.m. till midnight. Track and field and cross country student-athletes and their coaches will be honored during the halftime of the Beaver football game on the 27th. Most of those athletes can point to one man as a big part of their university experience - Wilson.
"You simply canít think about cross country and track and field at Minot State without everybodyís first thought being of Wiley Wilson," said Chad McNally, a coordinator for the MSU Homecoming reunion events.
The list of admirers and those whose lives Wilson has impacted is lengthy, here are what some have said about the coaching legend:
"Most of what I have learned about working hard, being disciplined, performing under pressure, taking responsibility and working as a team, I learned as an athlete under Wiley," said Bill Schalow, an MSU Athletic Hall of Famer and current business manager for Microsoft in Fargo.
"He led with integrity, dedication, and fervor; but most importantly, he had the vision and calm perspective to realize the bigger picture of his job as a coach, said Brenda Mihalicz-Werner, a 1988 graduate of Minot State and a member of the Athletic Hall of Fame. "He was not just preparing us for the next meet; he was preparing us for life."
"Coach Wilson was a great, great role model for me! I attribute 100 percent of the success we have enjoyed to Coach Wilson and the education and experience I received from Minot State University," said Mike Thorson, current head track and field and cross country coach at the University of Mary and part of Minot Stateís 1977 Track and Field and Cross Country team that is in the Athletic Hall of Fame.
"To this day, I draw upon the attributes he instilled: preparation, strength, endurance and a positive attitude," commented Laurie Nolan (Gillis), a graduate from Minot State in 1985 and also a member of the Athletic Hall of Fame.
Wilson was born in Tennessee in 1931. His father was a railroad man, so they moved to Stanton, N.D., when Wilson was just a young child. Wilson earned his undergraduate degree at Dickinson State University, an experience broken up by four years of service in the U.S. Air Force. He earned his masters in physical education from the University of North Dakota and then began teaching and coaching in smaller towns in the northwest part of the state.
In 1965, Wilson began working at Minot Model High School and within three years said he "fell into the Minot State job and that was a blessing." A blessing, not only for Wilson, but for the hundreds of athletes he guided over the next 29 years.
One of the more vivid memories Wilson, a member of the Minot State Athletic Hall of Fame, has of MSU was winning during the 1970s when he said they "had some very good teams" and ended up winning four conference championships during that decade. Over the years, Wilsonled teams earned seventeen NDCAC Conference and District Team Championships, 240 individual conference and District 12 titles. Cross country and track and field teams during this time period featured 10 NAIA All-Americans and sent seven cross country runners to NDCAC and District 12 Championships.
Wilson said the track and field and cross country teams competed in 15 to 18 meets every year. As for the athletes, Wilson said he was "proud of everyone on the team," and some of the best students and individuals were those who never scored a point in a meet during their entire career. For Wilson, a self-admitted sports addict, having a chance to mold future leaders was more important than winning meets or conference championships.
A humble man, Wiley said he doesnít think of himself as the cornerstone of the Minot State track and field and cross country teams from 1968-97. Instead, he said he is "honored and appreciates" the attention to his teams and the sport during the 2008 Homecoming. Wilson said, "Iíll be thrilled to see all the old faces again," and while I "respect and appreciate the honor of being a focus during Homecoming, we donít want to forget all the coaches that came before and have been here ever since" I was coaching.
Wiley wasnít alone at Minot State, his wife, Hermelle, also found her place at the university, where she worked in the athletic department with duties that included being the cheerleader advisor and teaching drivers education courses to future instructors.
Wilson has two children, four grandchildren, and one great-grandchild. He now lives with his wife in Fargo and tries very hard to get back every year to Minot for the Homecoming experience. Wilson sums up his attitude toward being in the spotlight and what he thinks of his time at Minot State best by saying, "If I had to live my life over, I would do it the same way!"