Dan Schindler is Chatfield High School's new athletic director.
Dan Schindler is Chatfield High School's new athletic director.
Dan Schindler commutes to his crazy.

That's thanks, of course, to superintendents on a limb.

"I plan on continuing to work in North Branch, but I'm also commuting two hours and 10 minutes to Chatfield...most people think that the commuting AD is crazy, but I'm originally from Chatfield," said the North Branch, Minn., resident.

Schindler is Chatfield's new athletic director, replacing former director Dan Hurley.

Schindler graduated from Chatfield High School in 1976 and from the University of Wisconsin-LaCrosse, earning a master's degree in education.

He taught for two years at St. Mary's in Sleepy Eye before moving to North Branch, where he and his wife, Marcia, both teach mathematics in the North Branch school district. They have an 8-year-old son, Drew.

"I'm very excited to be here," the 55-year-old teacher stated, "and we've always had a plan to relocate here in two years when I retire, but when we got the call that the position was open, I said I would love to take it, but it was two years too early. I really wanted the job because it would be the perfect retirement position, but I have to stay at North Branch because of the pension program there. I would lose my pension under the Rule of 90, and I don't want to have worked 28 years just to give it all up."

His 33-year coaching career with the North Branch girls' basketball team has captivated him enough that he doesn't want to leave that position early, either, so when the moment came to make a decision regarding whether to resign, he had, well, just a moment.

"The hard part is that I've been coaching there for 33 years, and I have a successful girls' basketball program, but when it came to this job, I had an interview on a Wednesday, I was offered the job on Thursday, and I had to make a decision by Friday morning," Schindler shared. "We did some discussing, and since the North Branch school district has a four-day school week, I looked for any possibilities I could find to make this work. I drive down here on Friday nights to stay at my parents' house just a few blocks away, and if there are Saturday activities, I can be there, and I'll work here on Mondays, make contacts, then go home to North Branch."

He pointed out that the arrangement takes the cooperation of both the North Branch and the Chatfield districts' superintendents. "Both school districts are going out on a limb with me since this is an unconventional way to do it," he added. "It will be a little bit different scheduling, but both superintendents talked about it and agreed to let me commute. But if I didn't take the position now, I would miss out on it."

North Branch definitely is losing an accomplished basketball coach - but gaining the respect of another district by sharing him on the day school is not in session. Chatfield certainly is acquiring quite a lot in Schindler, as his career record includes five state tournament appearances - in 1994, 2001, 2001, 2003 and 2005 - with his team taking second place in state in 2001, eight section championship games, seven conference championship games between the years 1994 and 2003, being named state coach of the year in 2005, section coach of the year in 2001, 2002 and 2005, and conference coach of the year six times. He has led his teams to win 20 or more games nine times and also assisted them in becoming four-time section academic champions.

Schindler has also been an assistant softball and baseball coach at North Branch, as well as a middle school football coach.

He acknowledged that "there will be a few bumps along the way" until he's fully established in his position, but that he anticipates doing his best for Chatfield's athletics programs and student athletes.

"My goal is to continue what I've been doing, trying to enhance the sports experience for the student athletes. I'd like to bring my experience and build on what this district already has and work toward a great experience for students," Schindler said. "A good athletic director makes sure everything is running smoothly. The Chatfield community is very positive about sports, and I know a lot of community members will help make the transition go well...I'll be working closely with Terry Dudek, whom I've known since I was in high school. I know Dan Hurley very well as a friend, and I know he'll still take my calls and texts, so there are a lot of positive things going for me."

In addition to being hired for his dream retirement job, Schindler is pleased to simply return to Chatfield.

"I'm excited to have the chance to come back to Chatfield and finish my career, doing something I really love doing. I think my son will play sports, so I'll have a vested interest in that," he concluded. "The big plan has always been to build a house here on our family's farm near Fountain and have our son start fifth grade here...that's just been accelerated a bit. And when you stay busy, that makes the time go faster. There are a lot of good people to work with here in Chatfield."