When Brady Speicher ran for the Perham Yellowjackets, he knew he wanted to be a head coach someday. Speicher achieved that dream with the Ottertail Central Bulldogs as he was recently named the head coach of the cross-country program with the schools of Henning, Underwood, and Battle Lake, who form the Ottertail Central collaborative.
“I am thrilled about the opportunity. It’s something that I have wanted obviously since I have been teaching,” Speicher, a social studies teacher at Battle Lake said. “For it to be open and for our three AD’s in our co-op to have the faith in me to run a program and build it to where I want it to be, I’m pretty excited for that.”
Speicher ran for the Yellowjackets for six seasons under head coach Jeff Morris. He said that experience made him realize that he wanted to be a coach and a teacher and be an influence for as many student-athletes as he can.
Speicher followed a successful career at Perham by running for the Dragons at Minnesota State University-Moorhead. Speicher had a record-breaking career with the Dragons and competed in six NCAA Championships. Speicher was an All-American as well during his time with the Dragons.
“Having that success was great, but the thing I took out of it the most was the relationships I formed with the coaching staff,” Speicher said. “If I can have just one or two of those types of relationships and pay it forward, to me it’s all worth it. I’m passionate about distance running and I can’t wait for this opportunity.”
In his first season at Battle Lake, Speicher served as Co-head coach of the track and field team. He said they had a great first season, sending 11 athletes to state and securing 10 conference championships. Speicher is the assistant girls basketball coach as well with Battle Lake.
“One thing I love about being at Battle Lake is that we are such a small school. We have around 30 graduating seniors this year and being a social studies teacher, I start my day with seniors and end my day with seventh graders,” Speicher said. “I get to coach or teach literally everyone seven through 12th grade every day and it’s amazing the relationships you can make.”
The Bulldogs have had success in the past. However, Speicher said right now the program’s biggest weakness is their lack of numbers. He expects they will have less than 20 kids out for the upcoming season. He said one of his goals is to improve the numbers, but he said his priority is having the kids be the best that they can be.
“My goal is put our priorities straight on being the best students we can be, be the best brothers, the best sisters we can be and when we can get that in order, we can work on being a good athlete. I want to be successful in that regard as well,” Speicher said. “I want to go to state championships and start a conference streak. But it does not happen overnight. There must be a lot of hard work. I had a zoom meeting with a pair that will probably be our captains and said in 10 years I want to look back and say ‘hey, you guys started this, you guys started the tradition of excellence at OTC. I want you guys to step up and I hope that happens this summer.’”
Speicher said it will be no secret that he will be taking things out of the Jeff Morris’ playbook. Speicher said his former coach was one of the first to congratulate him on the new coaching gig. Speicher added it is one of the great things about the coaching community is how they are willing to help each other out.
“I have been in constant contact with him since last year and he will always answer. First ring, he is on the phone,” Speicher said. “We don’t look at each other and say we hate each other, and we are competitors now. We are friends and he wants what is best for me and I want what is best for his team. That is a great thing about the running community, and I think, most coaches, in any sport are willing to share secrets. The phrase I use is lighting someone else’s candle with your flame does not make your flame any less bright. Everyone wants what is best for these student-athletes. Coach Morris is going to be a resource for me for many years.”
Speicher said last spring was devastating when he had to look his seniors in their eye, not knowing if they would have a season. He said he did his best to communicate with them and thank them for what they did for the program.
“What I saw out of the seniors is they bought in and they trusted my coaching and the process. That is all you can ask for as a coach,” Speicher said. "That was really heartbreaking for me to tell them that they are going to miss out on their season. It is scary, as a coach we want to put on the brave face and say we are going to have the perfect fall and say sports are going to be rolling again. I am just going to do my best to prepare them for when sports do start up again and we are ready to roll and ready to run fast. It is good in a sense that I have these ways to communicate with them. I am not the new face on the block. They know who I am and that is a benefit. It’s scary not knowing what the future holds, but whenever we do start, I know my athletes will be ready.”
Speicher said he is excited to have the faith of the three activities directors with each school and is ready for the upcoming season.
“I have had a lot of good advisors here in Battle Lake. Our AD, David Marso, has helped me a lot,” Speicher said. “Pretty much any teacher in the building is willing to help. It’s not just me going forward with the program, it’s really the whole school and community as a whole. As long as I feel that support, I feel the sky's the limit for this program.”