Rollie Greeno says hard work brings luck

Updated: June 10, 2006, 4:47 PM ET
Associated Press

JAMESTOWN, N.D. -- Rollie Greeno, whose name was synonymous with Jamestown College athletics and with championships for more than 30 years, knows about hard work.

"The harder I work, the luckier I get," he always said.

"My philosophy was that hopefully our best effort will be at the conference championships, and more often than not, it was," Greeno said. "I was definitely proud of the conference championships, but we also had some good teams that didn't win a championship."

Greeno was to be inducted Saturday into the North Dakota Sports Hall of Fame, along with longtime high school and college basketball coach Jerry Meyer and former Dickinson High School gymnastics standout Robin Huebner.

Meyer, a Rugby native, coached football and basketball at Kenmare High School, and basketball at Jamestown High and Jamestown College, winning a number of titles.

Huebner, a Dickinson native, was part of three consecutive state high school gymnastics championship teams. She went on to compete at the college, national and international levels.

Greeno was a teacher and coach for 52 years, and spent 37 years at Jamestown College, where he coached football, indoor and outdoor track and field, cross country and wrestling.

In football, Greeno's teams won eight North Dakota College Athletic Conference titles. They posted winning seasons in 22 of his 27 years with the Jimmie football program. He compiled a record of 154-83-2, a .642 winning percentage.

In wrestling, he led Jamestown College to a 150-110-4 record, a winning percentage of .576, and his cross country teams won 21 conference crowns.

In track, he built a dynasty. When he retired, his athletes owned every school indoor and outdoor record. The Jimmies won 28 indoor and 26 outdoor conference championships, including a streak of 21 consecutive indoor titles. And he finished his career by winning the final 22 NDCAC outdoor titles, along with the first Dakota Athletic Conference outdoor crown.

He coached 112 athletes who placed at the national track meet.

He remembers some low points as well.

"I could be bitter," Greeno said. "I got fired. I'm a fired football coach, and now they're honoring me.

"I don't know if I deserve the honor. I know I coached some of the finest young men on the face of the earth. And now one of them is coming back to coach track. He's going to be a great addition to the program."

Brent Tischer, a former Jamestown College athlete who competed for Greeno in college, was recently hired as the school's men's track and cross country coach. He is one of the many athletes whose careers were shaped by Greeno.

In 1995, Jamestown College established the Rollie Greeno Award honoring graduates who demonstrate a commitment to youth through careers in education or coaching. The award is presented each year during homecoming.

"I really miss teaching and coaching," said Greeno, who taught a full class load along with his coaching duties. "I had a lot of people that worked really hard."

Greeno was named the North Dakota College Coach of the Year in 1966 and 1975 by the North Dakota Associated Press Sportscasters and Sportswriters Association. and in 1991 was given the Special Achievement award by the state's sports media. His alma mater, Northern State (S.D.), inducted him into its hall of fame in 1975.

In 1979, he won District 12 football coach of the year honors and in 1980 he was inducted into the NAIA Hall of Fame in the football coaches category. In 1999, Jamestown College named its football field in his honor.

Earlier, in South Dakota, Greeno's high school teams at Milbank won 44 consecutive games, still a South Dakota 11-man record. He was named South Dakota's high school coach of the year in 1958.

Greeno now lives in Watertown, S.D. He has four children -- Rollie Jr., Greg, Trudi and Gretchen -- and nine grandchildren.


Information from: The Jamestown Sun,

Copyright 2006 by The Associated Press

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