Traetow elected to MNIAAA Hall of Fame
A Christmas present like no other. Just before Christmas 2018, Jackson County Central principal Larry Traetow found out he was elected to the Minnesota Interscholastic Activities Administrators Association (MNIAAA) Hall of Fame on a phone call from friend and Blue Earth Area activities director Rob Norman.
“He’s the person who nominated me for the award,” Traetow said. “We’ve been friends for quite a while. He gave me a call right before Christmas to tell me I was going to be inducted. For me, it was a real emotional thing. It’s an award that, every year I would go to the banquet and think, ‘God, I wonder if I’ll ever be one of those guys.’ And I was this year. It was very emotional.
“It was probably one of the better Christmas presents I’ve had in a while at my age.”
Traetow laughed as he recounted finding out he had been elected. He said though he had been away from the activities director position, going to the banquet at the River’s Edge Convention Center in St. Cloud on March 27 felt like he had never left.
“The banquet experience was great,” Traetow said. ” … Ten years away and they (MNIAAA members) acted like I’d been there forever, talking to people I hadn’t seen in a while. They’re good friends and if you develop good relationships with people, they’re always going to be there.”
Throughout Traetow’s career, he has coached football, basketball and track & field; taught physical education and social sciences; and served as dean of students, activities director and principal of both elementary and high schools.
After graduating from Welcome High School, Traetow earned a bachelor of arts at Huron University in Huron, S.D. Once he received his undergraduate degree, Traetow took a position teaching and coaching at Woonsocket High School in Woonsocket, S.D., before moving on to get his masters degree at Mankato State University.
While at MSU, Traetow became a graduate assistant coach in the football program. Once he’d graduated with a masters degree, Traetow took an offensive coordinator position at Dakota State University in Madison, S.D., then coached for Dakota Wesleyan University in Mitchell, S.D. Traetow said he has many great memories from his time coaching.
“My life fell right into place,” Traetow said. “All my goals, it’s just uncanny, everything has worked out. The good Lord has looked out for me. There were successes everywhere I went.”
After six years coaching at Dakota State and five years at Dakota Wesleyan, Traetow and his family decided it was time to come home.
“I was in South Dakota for quite a while, that’s where my wife is from and I wanted to come back home,” Traetow said. “I wanted my kids to grow up around the family they have here. My wife’s family was spread out a lot more so we came back to this area with the cousins and everybody else from the Truman area, to the Martin County West area, to the Fairmont area so they got to watch each other, play with each other and watch everyone grow up. I applied for the job in Jackson, took the job and there I was.”
In his second year at Jackson High School, Traetow took over full time as the activities director. During his tenure, Jackson High School consolidated with Lakefield High School and later the Sioux Valley schools.
Traetow said the success of the athletic teams helped the communities through the consolidation.
“It had a huge effect (on the school),” Traetow said. “All of a sudden we had to blend coaches and take some coaches in from the other districts. Athletes had to blend, but kids are so easy, they adapt and they move on. The thing that made things go so well, the very first year of consolidation, we went to the state football playoffs. That just brought everybody together as communities and everybody was so happy. Then it continued in all sports. In one year alone, we qualified 11 different teams for state tournaments.”
Traetow said the success of the teams and the quality of athletes and coaches made his job a little easier.
“I was spoiled,” Traetow said. “We had great athletes, we had great coaches. … You have to have good coaches that are going to battle through the good times and battle through the bad times.
“The athletes were outstanding and I was fortunate in my 16 years as AD to be a part of 11 state championships. … I had to have good people helping me out and I had four great administrative assistants in Sarah Treybal, Jadee Menke, Sheryl Strampe and Julie Lusk. Every successful person needs to have good people working with them, that was my case.”
Traetow transitioned from the AD position in 2009 to become the Jackson County Central High School principal.
“I just felt that I did everything I could in the athletic director world,” Traetow said. ” … Right now I’m leading a building of nine through 12 (grades). I love people, I love kids and it’s just another thing in my steps of progression before I retire.”
Traetow earned multiple awards through his career as an AD such as Region 3A Activities Administrator of the Year and Class A Activities Administrator of the Year, both in 2004, and the Patriotic Award for Employee Support of the Guard and Reserve.
Traetow said he knew that he wanted a career in education because of his father.
“My career in education was driven by my father’s inability to go on to college and be a coach himself,” Traetow said. “I did this for my dad and I got real emotional when I talked about it in the video (Traetow made for the induction ceremony). He had me when he was a senior in high school, which then curtailed a lot of his future plans. He was a great athlete, a good person, he wanted to go into education, he wanted to coach, he wanted to play college sports, but he couldn’t because I was born. So then I look at it as I went on and carried something out for him. That’s always made me proud.”