Sept. 7, 2011
Northwest to honor Mel and Carol Tjeerdsma on Saturday
Eighteen years ago when Mel Tjeerdsma arrived at Northwest Missouri State as the new head football coach, he met a walk-on willing to work hard.
By nature, walk-ons give all they have for an opportunity to get on the field two or three years down the road.
This walk-on had already spent a season as a red-shirt under the previous coach.
As the walk-on grew as a player, he witnessed first-hand the growth of Bearcat football from a bottom feeder to the king of the MIAA.
Once he graduated, Coach Tjeerdsma helped the walk-on land his first job as the offensive line coach at South Dakota and then offensive coordinator at William Jewell.
Coach Tjeerdsma brought this walk-on back to Northwest in 2005 as the offensive line coach and two years later promoted him to offensive coordinator.
Today, this walk-on, Adam Dorrel, is the head coach at Northwest.
"I've said before, outside my dad, from a male influence, he's had the most affect on my life," Dorrel said.
"I developed a really good relationship with him. I trusted him. I worked hard for him. I believed in him. He's taken care of me."
Dorrel is just one example of the amazing influence Coach Tjeerdsma has had on the young men who played football at Northwest.
"It was just an honor to play for him," said Northwest senior linebacker Chad Kilgore. "When he walks into a room, there is a presence. I'm just happy I was here before he retired. I'm very grateful for everything he has done."
Coach Tjeerdsma brought much more to Northwest than three NCAA Division II National Championships and 12 MIAA titles. He taught life lessons to his players and helped prepare them for the world beyond college athletics.
In every step of the incredible journey Coach Tjeerdsma took everybody on, stood his loyal wife, Carol.
Northwest appreciated every moment. It's so understandable why the school is already honoring the dynamic duo less than a year after his retirement.
"It's neat," Dorrel said. "Anybody who has been around us for 17 years knows that Carol is very important to Mel, very important to all of us.
"She is a vintage coach's wife. The thing about Carol is she was very involved in the community, between her real estate and teaching here. She knew a lot of people and had a lot of friends."
The Mel and Carol Tjeerdsma Day kicks off Friday with a reception and dinner at Bearcat Arena.
"It's pretty special," Tjeerdsma said. "They talked about it last spring and talked to me about it and I said if that's what you want to do, we would be extremely honored. Maryville is such a special place for us. We are looking forward to it."
Proceeds from the dinner go to the Coach T Student-Athlete Success Program, which improves academic and life enrichment opportunities for Northwest student-athletes.
On Saturday, Tjeerdsma and his wife will attend the football game between Northwest and Sioux Falls.
"I definitely want to play well to show him the program is where he left it," senior tight end Kyle Kilgore said. "I think everybody feels the same way. We want him to know it is headed in the right direction."
Tjeerdsma is looking forward to the two-day event at Northwest. It will give him a chance to visit friends, talk to the players and spend time with the coaching staff, who are very dear to him.
"I miss those guys," he said. "Honestly, I've done pretty good not coaching, but those are special relationships. I really do miss the coaches and the players. I'm anxious to see them play. I'm excited the way they played last week. Hopefully, they will be ready again, which I'm sure they will be."
Tjeerdsma is keeping himself busy. He works as a fundraiser for Austin College, the school he coached at before coming to Northwest.
He spends time in Dallas. On Tuesday, Tjeerdsma was in San Antonio.
"I caught up with one of my former players and that was fun, too," Tjeerdsma said. "I slipped in an Incarnate Word practice and that was fun."
And Tjeerdsma is also doing exactly what he said he was going to do when he retired and that is spending time with his family.
Last Thursday when Northwest was beating Truman State 65-3, Tjeerdsma was in Flower Mound, Texas, watching his grandson play.
"It is enjoyable," he said. "I think part of why it is enjoyable is there is not a big crowd and you don't have to listen to any of the comments people make about the game and what the coach should be doing and all that stuff. I sat there with my son-in-law, some of the other parents and it is fun to watch them play. They are young kids, and they are learning."
But Bearcat football wasn't far from his mind.
"Brandon Misener, Mr. D II Football, texted me updates almost constantly so I felt like I was pretty much in touch with what was going on," Tjeerdsma said.
"I was really thrilled for the team, Adam and the coaching staff because I know how hard they worked. I know how it has been a tough spring and summer. All your work, everything you do is in preparation for the game and when you have that kind of game it makes you feel good."
Tjeerdsma's hard work and approach to life has made a lot of people feel good.
The Mel and Carol Tjeerdsma Day is a celebration of all those good times and the good times still to come.
For more information, please contact:
Media Relations Department, Northwest Athletics
firstname.lastname@example.org | 660.562.1118 | Fax: 660.562.1582
Lamkin Activity Center | 800 University Drive | Maryville, MO 64468