Tim Boeck was a three-sport star at Westbrook when stars shone brightly
In the early 1980s, Westbrook High was a small school blessed with an abundance of outstanding male athletes. One of the best of the best was Tim Boeck, a three-sport star who helped the Wildcats basketball team to a third-place finish in the state Class A tournament and also won an individual hurdling championship at the state track and field meet.
Now, nearly 40 years after he graduated, Boeck says he enjoyed high school so much, he’d do it all over -- almost.
“I’d sure like to do it again. But I’d hate to have to do it over, because I don’t know if it would come out that same way again,” he said.
After high school and a brief basketball stint at the community college in Willmar, Boeck began a successful career in track and field at South Dakota State University. He married his high school sweetheart, Anita Erickson, who went on to make a big name for herself in the sporting ranks (more on that later). They have three children and six grandchildren, with another on the way.
For more than 30 years, Tim and Anita have called Arlington, S.D., their home. They’ve taught and coached at the high school there.
As a high school student/athlete himself, Tim seemed to live a charmed life. The Wildcat basketball team that he helped lead as a senior was undefeated heading into the state tournament, and their only setback of the season occurred there in an overtime loss to Chisholm.
Boeck still marvels at how the WHS players worked so well together. “You gotta be lucky to have the personalities, too,” he said, looking back. “It was a group that didn’t want to lose.”
There’s a little bit of luck, perhaps, in everything. Boeck was a hard worker at the 300-meter intermediate hurdles in his final prep season, not wanting to leave anything to chance. And yet, in the state meet preliminaries he tripped over a hurdle and almost fell.
“A lot of hard work to get to that point. After getting second the year before, it was something to shoot for, that’s for sure,” he said about winning the gold. “It was almost kind of a relief.”
The season after Boeck graduated, the Wildcats earned a state 9-Man football championship under head coach Bill White.
“It was pretty great. Those guys had worked hard, and Bill White was a great coach. I had a lot of buddies on that team that won it,” said Boeck, whose team was beaten in the semifinals in his senior year.
Boeck’s favorite memories are not just the ones that occurred on the fields of play.
“I think just being together with your buddies and your friends, and just being with your coaches. Obviously, we were just lucky to have the coaches we had,” he said.
One of coaches he especially enjoyed was his basketball coach, Steve Kjorness, who was and still is a talker. Boeck even shared a specific memory about Kjorness’ questionable driving skills.
“His driving wasn’t the greatest. He was so busy talking and telling stories. The driving was the second thing,” joked Kjorness’ former star.
Immediately after high school Tim wanted to follow Anita to college, so when she attended the vocational school in Willmar, he went to the community college. Soon after, his Westbrook teammate and pal, Mike Weiske -- who was playing football at SDSU -- put in a good word for his buddy with the track and field coach. After arriving in Brookings, Boeck ran both hurdle races but also picked up the decathlon -- the perfect event for a versatile athlete such as him.
Boeck has coached several sports at Arlington. He was head girls basketball coach for 13 years, coached junior high girls and boys basketball and was the assistant boys coach. He coached for 33 years as a track and field coach at the school, including more than 25 years as the head coach, which is his current position.
But it’s Anita who has really made it big in coaching.
In high school, she played on the volleyball team and was a boys basketball cheerleader. She taught in nearby Volga for a year before taking over as the volleyball coach in Arlington, and it took off quickly. She’s now retired from coaching, but not before she accumulated more than 700 victories to become the second-most winningest coach in South Dakota with inductions in both the SDSU Coaches Hall of Fame and the South Dakota High School Volleyball Coaches Hall of Fame.
Her husband is still amazed. They never talked about her coaching volleyball until the Arlington school district lured her there. They needed a math teacher and they needed a coach, and Anita came to fill both openings.
“No, I don’t think anybody saw that coming,” he admitted. “She’s got a natural ability to get people to get along well, and also getting people to do fundamental things correctly.
Tim and Anita’s oldest child, Mitch, is a 2006 Arlington graduate and Mr. Basketball finalist who helped his high school to a state basketball championship before enjoying a successful career at Northern State University. He is married, with three kids.
Allison is married with three kids and lives in Arlington as a nurse practitioner. She was an all-state volleyball and basketball player in high school.
Samantha played volleyball for a year at SDSU and was a three-sport athlete in high school. She is planning a wedding.
Recalling his own athletic exploits, Tim Boeck remembers them all fondly. He said he probably liked basketball the best when he played it, but he had so many outstanding memories he couldn’t pick a favorite today.
And what else is going on these days? he was asked.
“Alot,” he answered. “But the grandkids make it even more.”