Mitch McLeod was a head coach and a teacher at North Dakota State University. He didn’t have the luxury of multiple assistant coaches like today’s coaches do.
He had to recruit, order equipment, coach, make sure transportation was ready and teach college students before practice.
“He was a full-time professor trying to coach a sport at the same time and that’s pretty difficult to do,” Justin Fletschock, who played for McLeod from 1994 to 1997, said.
He missed so many of his kids’ sporting events when he coached at NDSU that he didn’t even notice his own son walk out to shortstop when he skipped his team’s practice to watch his kid play baseball for the first time in months.
“I’m standing there looking over the field and I can’t see my kid and from about 15 feet away, he goes running out to shortstop and I didn’t recognize him,” McLeod said. “I didn’t recognize my own kid in a baseball uniform as he was an eighth grader at the time and it was a knife wound to the heart and so I went home to my wife and told her, ‘I need to be done, I can’t do this any longer.’”
And that’s exactly what he did.
“Family was a big part for (him) and it didn’t surprise me that he wanted to put them first,” Fletschock said.
After the 2007 season, McLeod decided it was time to leave the game he loves at NDSU to find a new job.
In the fall of 2008, the Detroit Lakes, Minn., native accepted a position at the Detroit Lakes High School.
It wasn’t a coaching job, but that was okay with McLeod.[/text_output]
[image type=”none” float=”none” info=”none” info_place=”top” info_trigger=”hover” src=”3654″ alt=”Mitch McLeod ndsu bison baseball head coach to Detroit Lakes High School activies director”]
[text_output]He didn’t have to recruit or worry about the stress of winning at the collegiate level, he now had the chance to see his kids every day. Something he hadn’t been able to do in quite some time.
“All year long I’m a part of activities that my kids are involved in and it still is, even with the other kids, I’ve got to know these kids really well and I’ve got to watch them in activities and to be with them and support them in any way that I can and that’s the best part,” McLeod said.
As activities director, McLeod is in charge of nearly 30 athletic teams, bands, choirs and FFA.
At NDSU, he was in charge of one sport and to be a successful activities director he must spread out his love for baseball to all the other sports.
“Baseball is my passion and it’s my favorite sport, but track is also extremely important and golf is too,” McLeod said. “So, as an activities director you come to realize that everything is important and you treat everything the same no matter what the numbers are.”
He also finalizes most of the high school’s sports schedules and is in charge of ordering equipment, traveling arrangements and hiring coaches.
McLeod has to make sure every sport and every coach has everything they need when their season starts.
“When you’re coaching I think you understand what you need and I’ve just kind of taken that from baseball at NDSU and put it into every sport,” the 60-year-old said.
He doesn’t have any teaching duties and that’s fine with him, considering some days he’s at work from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. with after school activities. But he gets to be around his kids and that’s what he wants.
He and his wife will be married for 25 years this October and have three boys. Connor is the oldest and will be a senior at Mayville State this upcoming year and also plays baseball. Kirk is the monkey in the middle and will be a junior at Nebraska-Kearney and plays baseball. Kai is the youngest and will be a junior in high school next year and is a three-sport athlete.
McLeod finds time to go back to the baseball diamond and is the coach of his son’s legion baseball team. But once his son is done playing legion, McLeod will be found on the golf course.
“I travel all over watching my kids play and I coach my kids,” McLeod said. “Baseball is a part of me and it always will be. I miss coaching at NDSU, but I don’t regret leaving.”[/text_output]