Longtime high school football coach John Sieling lived in Eagle Bend his whole coaching career, but found himself on the sidelines for programs under multiple names.

There was 11 years as Eagle Bend head coach and 24 for Eagle Valley. Then Prairie Valley formed as a co-op between Eagle Valley and Parkers Prairie where Sieling coached the Nighthawks for three years before going back to seperate programs.

Sieling manned the sidelines for Parkers Prairie for four years. That all adds up to 42 years coaching and a 195-193 record. That was enough to call it a career for Sieling as he resigned after the 2018 season for the Panthers. His defensive coordinator in Parkers Prairie, Mike Johnson, is starting his first season as the head coach this fall.

“I decided that after 35 years of Eagle Bend/Eagle Valley and 7 years of Prairie Valley/Parkers Prairie that it was time to let the younger coaches take over,” Sieling said on Aug. 18. “I have always believed that coaches when possible should be teachers in the school they coach at. Many times schools don't have that opportunity. The Panthers now have four of their varsity coaches on staff to see players everyday all school year long. Mike Johnson is a hard worker and will do a great job leading and continuing to build the football program.”

Sieling doesn’t see himself getting back into coaching at this point in his life. By stepping away from the sidelines, he has moved into full retirement and is looking forward to taking in the game from a different vantage point.

“It will be fun to watch from the sidelines with my wife and be able to relax and enjoy,” Sieling said.

There are parts of leading a program that Sieling says he will miss, like being on the practice field, interacting with the players and then the Friday nights to see if everything they worked on can come to fruition. He is ready to let somebody else take over the day-to-day responsibilities that come with getting to those Friday nights throughout the year, though.

“What I didn't miss already was the preparation and planning that goes into a football season,” Sieling said. “As my wife would tell you, as a head coach, football is a 12-month job. Summer camps, spring meetings, playbooks, practice schedules, film watching, issues that come up. I have been blessed to have been in districts and communities that were supportive of both the football program and myself.”