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Thursdays regular-season finale will mark Dick Bertelsens last time on the Eagles homefield

by: THE OUTLOOK: DAVID BALL - Centennial girls soccer coach Dick Bertelsen watches last weeks 1-0 loss to Central Catholic. He has spent 30 years with the Eagles program, winning a state title in 2000.

The Commodore 64 home computer had just been released, Prince William was born overseas and ‘ET’ was playing in the movie theaters when Dick Bertelsen first stepped foot on the soccer sidelines at Centennial High School.

He has spent 30 years coaching in the girls program, the last 25 as the team’s head coach, but this Thursday will mark his last time on the Eagles bench after announcing his retirement earlier this season. Bertelsen will be honored during halftime of Centennial’s game against Barlow.

“He creates a team atmosphere that makes the kids feel good about what’s happening,” said Steve Baker, who has assisted Bertelsen for more than 15 seasons. “He builds the team around what his players want to accomplish and knows how to get the most out of his players.”

Bertelsen was on a basketball court when the seed of coaching was first planted. Playing after-school hoops with a set of fellow elementary teachers, Bertelsen taught second grade for 30 years at Lynchview, his peer Steve Campbell asked him about coaching a boys youth soccer team.

Bertelsen didn’t jump at the chance, but did reluctantly agree to drop by practice and check it out. Little did he know he was being set up.

“We got to the end of practice, and he pointed over to me and said ‘Team, meet your new coach,’” Bertelsen laughs.

He coached that junior team all the way until the group entered high school when he was offered a jayvee job with Centennial High’s girls team. Five years later, he was moved to the varsity squad, which he led to 14 straight playoff appearances (1998-2011) and to a memorable state championship win over Jesuit in 2000.

“Of course, you have the state championship, which is something not every coach gets to experience,” Bertelsen said. “But the biggest high you get is from being a part of these kids’ everyday lives. They come in as goofy 14-year-old freshman, and you see them grown into 18-year-old young ladies. It’s been an absolutely wonderful ride, I’ve enjoyed every moment of it.”

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