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George Larson Tribute
Last week, our community lost one of the greats. George Larson, a teacher, football coach and athletic director, died peacefully at the age of 89.
“As a Bluejacket, he impacted thousands of lives, and there will continue to be a generational ripple of his optimistic and uplifting outlook on life. I understand he used to say, ‘Kids only have one chance to go through high school, and we have to make sure their experience is outstanding,’” Superintendent Nate Rudolph said. “He not only served our students, he established the culture of excellence for Cambridge-Isanti High School. He made a difference in this community. His was a life well-lived, in service to others.”
Activities Director Mark Solberg learned to coach from George Larson. “He had such an impact on my life,” Solberg said. “Every year, we spent the start of the season in coaches' meetings talking about how we were going to teach skills——down to the number of inches they needed to move. He always said, ‘If we can teach the coaches, you can certainly teach the kids.’ That’s how thorough he was. Everything was precise. He certainly impacted my life, but he impacted thousands of Bluejacket lives and left a legacy of greatness.”
“Coach Larson taught us all never to be outworked,” Solberg continued. “So much so that there were those times when after a football on Friday night, we [coaches] would meet, sometimes until 3 a.m. to get our game plan ready for the following week so the kids would be prepared. We had great teams, and it was because he was very focused on making sure the kids were prepared.”
The Cambridge-Isanti High School field is named for George Larson, a tribute to his legacy. Larson coached for 38 years, winning twenty-five conference championships and three state championships in 1986, 1987, and 2000. He was named Minnesota Football Coach of the Year in 1971 and 1986. Larson earned the following Hall of Fame honors: Bluejacket, Minnesota Football Coaches, Minnesota Athletic Directors and the Minnesota State High School League. In 2018, he won the John Gagliardi Legacy Award from the Minnesota Chapter of the National Football Foundation.
Even after retirement, he continued to be a great teacher and leader. So much so that when Mark Solberg was named Activities Director in 1999 and had to give up the head football coach position, he turned to George Larson. “It was my job to hire the best coaches, and I knew who the best coach in Minnesota was. So, I went to George and said, “I think I’m looking at the next Bluejacket head football coach.” So, Larson came out of retirement and coached the team to a second-place finish in 1999 and a state championship in 2000 — his final two years of coaching.
This weekend, Solberg Tweeted [@CIHS_Activities]
“Coach George Larson, the ultimate champion, outstanding educator, coach, AD, positive role model, legend and impacted thousands of lives. Taught us never to be outworked, to be thorough, and always strive for excellence. Blessed be the memory of a great man, Coach George Larson.”