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Dave Trautman is retiring after 13 years as Frazee A.D., while Nick Courneya is on his way in

Frazee’s activity director Dave Trautman (left) is retiring after 19 years of being at FHS and 13 years as A.D. He also served as the head Hornet softball coach for many years, as well as head football and basketball coach. BRIAN BASHAM/RECORD

It was late December of 2000 and Dave Trautman entered the Frazee High School as its new interim Activity Director under unfortunate circumstances.

The acting A.D. at the time was Frank Hesby, who suffered a heart attack during the Christmas break, thus lifting Trautman into that capacity for the remainder of the year.

The job was new to Trautman, but on that first day as interim A.D., he received two important calls.

“The first two people to call me that morning were (former Detroit Lakes’ A.D.) Rick Manke and (Perham’s A.D.) Fred Sailer,” Trautman recalled. “They just wanted to let me know that they were in the same boat at one time and offered their help in any way.

“That meant a lot to me.”

Now after 13 years as Frazee’s activity director and 19 years being a teacher/coach at FHS, Trautman can return the favor.

After announcing his retirement, which will commence after the school year, the FHS school board hired a very familiar face in Frazee 1999 graduate Nick Courneya as the new activity director.

It’s a hire both Courneya and Trautman are happy with, obviously.

Trautman knows Courneya well after coaching him in football and having him as a student through his high school days.

It’s a perfect full circle for Courneya, too, who has taught physical education, sports enhancement and health at Menahga (2005), Perham (2006-09) and Detroit Lakes (2010-current).

“Nick is a great person and he has a solid base to him, while being much grounded,” Trautman said. “And I would think him being from here, people are familiar with him.”

Courneya will be a willing listener as he takes on his new duties, and he has had some great mentors through his years teaching and coaching in the form of Trautman, Sailer and Manke.

“I have been very fortunate to be around some well-known leaders like Howie Kangas, Fred Sailer, Rick Manke, Mike Labine, Flint Motschenbacher, among others,” Courneya said. “They have talked and I have listened.”

Trautman will leave a solid foundation

In his 19 years as Frazee A.D., Trautman has experienced the many ups and downs the position can bring.

He was one of many contributors to help build the Frazee wrestling dynasty, with the Hornets winning two state Class 1A championships while he was there. He also was the head football, softball and basketball coach at one time or another.

The sports programs, in general, also flourished under Trautman’s direction as he had the ability to relate with coaches, players, parents and administration.

With his calm demeanor, Trautman doesn’t put winning or losing at the top of the list of accomplishments, though.

“What I deem a success is where kids gain a great experience and see themselves improving in life with their activities we offer at Frazee,” Trautman said. “We are here to educate kids, that’s what we do. Winning and losing is just steps along the way. If you believe that it is all about the kids, you will be well grounded.”

But Trautman also had some trials and tribulations through his 19 years, specifically when the school district was trying to pass a referendum to help stave off making hefty cuts to many areas in the school.

Some of those cuts included not funding certain sports teams.

“There were some tough decisions which had to be made, and how the community was able to step up like they did, just amazed me,” Trautman said.

The amazing aspect Trautman is referring to was the booster clubs taking over the costs of running the sports programs, which were cut out of the school budget, as well as cutting all the junior high coaches’ salaries.

That booster club funding included the head coaches’ salaries, travel and equipment.

“The more amazing thing was it was more than one year,” Trautman said. “People can get motivated to help for one year, but to continuously do it over multiple years, was unbelievable.”

But with the passage of the referendum last November, there is now talk by the school board to return the funding for these sports programs.

“The boosters and parents made this happen and hopefully now the district can return those funds,” Trautman added.

With the wrestling program being the most visible identity of Frazee to outsiders, Trautman helped keep the team a consistent winner.

“It’s a highly successful program because the pieces are in place through coaching, parents and boosters,” Trautman said. “The pieces also are in place at an early age for these wrestlers. They are experienced at a young age.”

Trautman also carried the dean of students job the last 10 years, while being in charge of the massive scheduling for all the sports teams and activities, such as FFA and drama, which are just as important as the sports.

“We want to be providing activities for all of our students,” Trautman said.

With the support of his wife, Patty, throughout the years, Trautman’s journey as the head Hornet was a most enjoyable – but busy – one.

“We had many suppers in this office,” Trautman said of Patty, who is a statistician for many of the teams. “But she enjoys being at the games, too.”

In the near future, Trautman can live his life without a schedule, although he may keep his head softball coaching duties after his retirement.

But he will be available to Courneya, as he adjusts to his transition of becoming the Frazee A.D.

“My number one point for Nick will be to take a breath every once in a while,” Trautman said. “You have to makes many decisions on the fly, but you always have to take as much info as you can before making a decision.”

It’s advice Courneya will take to heart.

Courneya jumps ahead of planned schedule

After Courneya graduated from North Dakota State University and playing for the Bison football team, his goals started to take shape.

He loved competition and sports in general, while having good success as a Hornet football player and wrestler.

Courneya was the heavyweight on the state champion team in 1999, while also competing in track.

He gained his degree in physical education and health, while playing linebacker for the Bison under then head coach Bob Babich.

Courneya gained his first job in Menahga for a year, before moving on to Perham in 2006. He joined the DLHS staff in 2010, where he was a volunteer coach for the football and track teams.

He has been an assistant coach in football, wrestling and track throughout the years, with one of his goals being a head coach position.

“I guess I skipped over being a head coach and accomplish my other goal of becoming an activity director,” Courneya said. “I may pursue the head coaching goal one day, but now, my total focus will be learning the A.D. job in Frazee.”

His master’s is in education leadership, in which he earned from Minnesota State University Moorhead.

But it’s his experience coaching in Menahga, Perham and Detroit Lakes which he credits for his preparedness in becoming an administrator.

Frazee also has been Courneya’s home for most of his life. He lives just three miles away from the high school, with his wife, Nicky, and two daughters, Katie (three years old) and Rachael (eight months).

Literally for Courneya, home is where his heart is.

“I know many people in Frazee who have personal ties to the school, still, and I am just appreciative I have been given the opportunity to be a part of that,” Courneya said. “I get the opportunity to bring my knowledge I have learned from many mentors to my home school.”

Courneya will no doubt keep the footprints Trautman has put on Frazee’s activities, but he also will start carving out his own niche in the position.

He will take over the speed and strength program, after being one of the contributors to DL’s successful program.

Prepping for his new career starts as soon as school is let out and he switches his colors from Laker Red and White, to Frazee Green.

“One thing I did learn from Fred Sailer is to take road trips with each program, get to know the coaches and kids well,” Courneya said. “Learning-wise, I will need to sit down with Dave (Trautman) and learn the X’s and O’s of scheduling.”

Familiarity with the coaches will also be an advantage for the newest Frazee staff member. Courneya was coached by several current coaches in Jim Rader (football head coach), Brian Tangen (head boys’ track coach) and even Trautman.

Taking over the speed and strength program is also an exciting opportunity for Courneya.

“I’ve helped with other schools’ programs, but I’ve never been the person running it,” he said. “I learned a great deal and am ready to run Frazee’s speed and strength.”

One aspect Courneya wants to follow in Trautman’s path is consistency, as well.

“Dave has been such a stable structure for the school for a long time,” Courneya said. “Even when things were down, he was there working. Consistency brings stability.”

Longevity is yet another virtue Courneya can bring to the school district.

Being young and landing a career in his home school, Courneya can grow with the school district.

“In my mind, this is home for my family and I,” Courneya said. “My love is also for the activities and the chance to have the opportunity to provide kids with what they need.

“Even though I am in administration, I am still a teacher.”

With one Frazee longstanding contributor leaving after a fruitful and long career, another home town Hornet will make the transition a smooth one.

Indeed, home is where the heart lies.

Brian Wierima
Detroit Lakes Newspapers Sports Editor for the last 15 years. St. Cloud State University graduate, who hails from Deer Creek, MN.