This article appears in the Fall 2023 issue of the FCA Donor Publication. The FCA publication is a gift from our FCA staff to all donors giving $50 or more annually. For more information about giving, visit here.
For more than 50 years, Coach Dwight Lundeen and his wife Pam have made a significant impact on the lives of countless coaches and athletes in their community of Becker, Minnesota. As the head football coach at Becker High School, Coach Lundeen has found the key to perseverance in coaching: a greater purpose.
While he is the third winningest coach in Minnesota high school football history, and was named “Coach of the Year” and inducted into the Minnesota Football Coaches Association (MFCA) and Minnesota Interscholastic Activities Administrators Association (MNIAAA) Halls of Fame, his identity is anchored into something that reaches far beyond his coaching success: Christ. Early into his career, he recognized the importance of seeing coaching as a calling and a mission field, and he connected with FCA to get resources and support as he shared his faith.
Today, the Lundeens’ influence in the Becker community spans over the hundreds of players Dwight has coached over the last 50 years, and even more students that Dwight and Pam have taught at the high school. This year, FCA presented him with the 2023 Branch Rickey Service Award to recognize his dedication and commitment to the community and to FCA.
How did you first get involved with FCA?
I’m the son of a pastor/missionary, and we did a lot of traveling. Each time we went to a different school, location and country, I connected with the people through athletics. I wasn’t a great athlete, but I had a passion for being involved in activities.
I first connected with FCA while I was at St. Cloud State University. I went there to be a teacher and a coach; I knew that’s what I wanted and needed to be. There were a number of coaches who had impacted me in a positive way, and I wanted to do that. I knew coaching could be a way I could impact kids and share my faith.
In 1967, I got involved in an FCA Huddle on campus. It was a vehicle I could use for ministry. Kids were attracted to it. Then I got a job at Becker High School in 1969. My wife and I got married, and she got a job teaching at Becker as well. We started an FCA Huddle in Becker right away, and that was 50-plus years ago. Ever since then, we’ve continued to be involved.
What impact does having FCA in your community make?
FCA and coaching is a great combination. I can model the things I need to—loving my wife and my family, my language, as well as my role as a community member and being active in church. FCA gives me the opportunity to share Christ. In our society right now, the word “coach” carries a lot of weight. The FCA Huddle is a great way for me to share who I am and my faith, even in a public school, because once they come to FCA, I can be more open.
What advice would you offer new coaches just now starting their careers?
If you’re going to last in this business—which has huge turnover due to pressures, parents and win/loss records—you need to be very clear on your goal and purpose. My goal is to win every football game I ever coach, which is not possible. But my purpose is so much greater.
At the end of the game, it’s still just a game. Win or lose, my purpose is to impact the kids on my team, the kids who are watching the game and the community attending the game. That is all part of my ministry and how I carry myself. I can walk out on the field after a tough loss and still feel my purpose is being carried through. The scoreboard does not define who I am. If the scoreboard defines you, you’re not going to last very long.
What is a Scripture that guides the way you coach?
I love 1 Peter 5:7: “Cast all your cares upon Him for He cares for you.” Whatever’s going to happen the next day, we’ll be able to deal with it. I don’t need to hang on and worry about things. Philippians 4:6 says, “Don’t worry about anything, instead, pray about everything.” Those verses define my faith and my coaching. I really feel the Lord will get me through whatever is coming up the next day.
“It has been my joy and privilege to know and work with Coach Dwight Lundeen for almost 40 years. I can honestly say that Dwight’s participation and involvement with FCA has put him in an elite class with only a select few others. Dwight’s involvement has included not only his leadership with the Becker FCA Huddle, but also with summer sports and golf camps, area rallies, state FCA coaches’ events and athletic director’s breakfasts, and more.”
—Randy Jensen, FCA Northland Region Director of Ministry Advancement
Read more about Dwight's legacy here!
Photos courtesy of Dwight Lundeen and FCA Minnesota