ORIGINALLY WRITTEN ERIC CLARK
In the fall of 1998, Brett Thiessen suited up for practice one day and began catching kickoffs for the Tabor College football team.
It wasn’t that Thiessen was an unknown diamond-in-the- rough kick returner. Instead, he simply wanted head coach Tim McCarty to lighten up a little bit.
“The kickoff team is kicking and there is this guy back there catching the kickoffs and I’ve never seen the guy before,” McCarty recalled. “I thought, I can’t believe I’ve been the coach here for two months and don’t know this kid’s name.
“Finally he drops another kickoff and I royally start chewing his tail out.”
Thiessen still remembers that day vividly.
“He had no clue who it was,” he said. “I stared him in the face and he did a triple take.”
“Then it dawned on me it was him in full uniform,” McCarty said. “Eveybody on the whole team knew it was him except me. Everybody gathered up around me laughing, and I didn’t know if I should get mad or laugh. But I joined in with them laughing.”
Thiessen, now a senior at Tabor, began working as the administrative assistant for the Bluejay football team when McCarty arrived at Tabor in 1998.
“He actually met me in my office about a week after I had the job,” McCarty said. “He wanted to know if there was anything he could do to help. So I immediately stuck my hooks in him and found a place for him.”
Thiessen said: “I’ve always enjoyed football, but I’ve never played football or been around a football team. I’ve had friends who have played, but as far as being in practice and being able to learn I think that’s the best part of it.”
Since taking the position, Thiessen has compiled critical statistical information about Tabor football that had not been recorded before.
Thiessen is currently collecting information about Bluejay football to put together an official record book.
“I really enjoy statistics and stuff like that,” Thiessen said. “But I haven’t done anything official until this record book. I think it’s important because it gives us a record of what we’ve done in the past and puts some perspective on what we’re doing now.
“I think it gives us the chance to appreciate where we’ve come from.”
He has also setup a recruiting data-base for McCarty and his staff.
The two-time Tabor College Student Senate president will finish up his time at Tabor this spring, graduating with a bachelor’s degree in both math and chemistry.
“He’s an extremely intelligent young man,” McCarty said. “He does everything.”
According to McCarty, Thiessen has been a significant help to the Tabor football program.
“I don’t think he ever played football,” McCarty said. “I think he’s one of those guys who likes being a part of stuff. He scouts and he’s a master organizer. He does it all.”
Although Thiessen’s been involved with the rebuilding process from day one, he said he’s more of an odds-and-ends kind of guy than a statistical savior.
“I think I’ve picked up on the stuff with a limited staff, the coaches haven’t had a chance to do,” Thiessen said. “I pick up the easy stuff that takes up time.”
According to Thiessen, the rise of the Tabor program has a lot to do with its coach.
“I think he is a great on-the-field coach,” Thiessen said. “But his biggest assets have been developed off the field. He’s starting to get guys who will give back to the school and the community and he’s trying to get the community and the school to give back to the team.”
After graduation, Thiessen said that if things work out he will stay with the team as the administrative assistant.
“I was really thankful that I got the opportunity to do this because I’ve never had an experience like this before,” Thiessen said. “It gave me an opportunity to be in a different environment, and I like doing things I’ve never done before.”
McCarty credits most of Thiessen’s passion to his love for Tabor in general.
“I think Brett, as a person, loves Tabor,” McCarty said. “He’s just as part of the team as anybody else. He’s invested a lot for this team. He’s the kind of guy you just enjoy being around because of who he is.”