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Boys soccer: Justin Wegleitner steps down after 26 years of coaching Detroit Lakes boys soccer

Justin Wegleitner announced his resignation from the Detroit Lakes boys soccer head coaching position after starting the program 26 years ago.

1 Justin Wegleitner AD7C6725.JPG
Justin Wegleitner announced his resignation from the Detroit Lakes boy soccer head coaching position following his 26th season. Wegleitner was named Section 8-2A Coach of the Year after leading the Lakers to an 11-5 regular-season record.
Jared Rubado / Detroit Lakes Tribune
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There’s only ever been one head coach of the Detroit Lakes boys soccer team.

Justin Wegleitner is stepping down from the helm after 26 seasons. He and his wife, Kim, moved to St. George, UT, for a new career opportunity.

“I got offered a position with Blue84 as a sales representative in the Southwest,” Wegleitner said. “My territory is going to be southern Utah, southern Nevada, eastern California and everything in western Arizona. When we pulled into St. George on Saturday afternoon after driving for six days, I walked out our front door, and there was a palm tree in our front yard. I’ve gone from snowy pine and oak trees to sunny palm trees.”

The Lakers are coming off one of their best seasons in program history. Wegleitner led Detroit Lakes to an 11–6 record, earning Section 8-2A Coach of the Year.

“The bitter part of the decision was leaving Detroit Lakes and the soccer community in Detroit Lakes and the surrounding area,” Wegleitner said. “That wasn’t a decision I wanted to make at all. It was the hardest part about this. It’s a hard pill to swallow. I’ll take opportunities to come back and see the town, but if I could’ve taken the Detroit Lakes soccer community with me, it’d be the best of both worlds.”

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Wegleitner’s opportunity to move south was in the works for some time, but he didn’t want to present the news to the team before anything was finalized.

“I didn’t announce it at our awards banquet with the kids because I wanted them to have their night,” Wegleitner said. “It’s their time for them to get their awards, so I wanted the evening to be about them. I wanted it to be about celebrating a fun season, not my last season.”

Wegleitner moved to Detroit Lakes from St. Cloud in the early 1990s after college. He and former Detroit Lakes girls soccer head coach, Dave Carter, worked together to start the high school programs. Over the next 26 years, Wegleitner coached hundreds of Laker soccer players at all levels.

Coach Justin Wegleitner with team
Justin Wegleitner talks with his team after a game in 2012. Wegleitner coached the Detroit Lakes boys soccer team since the fall of 1997 before stepping down this fall.
Detroit Lakes Tribune file photo

“My first season of coaching was my senior year of high school,” Wegleitner said. “I coached my brother’s U-12 team. I went out to college before I eventually found Detroit Lakes. I helped David Carter with coaching for a few years before we got the high school programs started. It was a hard decision to make. But it’s something I’ll probably get back involved with once I get settled down here.”

Wegleitner is excited for the next stage of his life with Bue84 and his family.

“It was a bittersweet decision,” Wegleitner said. “Both of my kids are grown now. The youngest is in her second year of college, and the oldest has his career going now. For my wife and I, it was the right time to make a life change and a career change. It’s a great opportunity to be with a good company. The opportunities are endless.”

Wegleitner wanted to ensure the youth and high school programs were in good hands before he left Minnesota. With the help of determined people, he felt like now was the right time to hit the road.

“The program is in a good spot. That’s something my wife and I put a lot of work into,” Wegleitner said. “With David Carter retiring from DL soccer two years ago, we started to take steps to put the programs in a good position. We hired Courtney Tracy to do the behind-the-scenes work. All of the things that make a youth organization run need attention. Courtney was instrumental in us being able to back away from that.”

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“The school will do a great job of hiring the next coach. I think there are people who have been involved with the program for many years that will step up, so everything stays on the same path it’s been on. The high school program is successful because of DLYSA.”

After three decades of coaching, some of Wegleitner’s fondest memories have come from watching kids develop into good soccer players and great community members.

“It was never the right time to leave Detroit Lakes soccer because I love it so much,” Wegleitner said. “This last season was a lot of fun because of the team’s success. Having a lot of things go our way, going 11-6 and having so many great players was awesome. I think some people thought I’d get buried in the complex. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve told my wife about an eighth or ninth-grader who was going to bring a lot to our team. It made it so exciting to see the development of the kids. I hope to see a varsity game four years from now to see all the growth. There’s just never a good time to leave, but to have the season we had made the last one just a lot of fun.”

Jared Rubado is the sports editor for the Detroit Lakes Tribune and the Perham Focus. He moved to the area in September of 2021 after covering sports for the Alexandria Echo Press for nearly three years. Jared graduated from the University of Augustana in 2018 with degrees in journalism and sports managment.
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