Haugen named to Hall of Fame

Published 12:00 am Saturday, August 17, 2002

For a man who played football and ran track in college Klem Haugen made for a pretty good golf coach. But you would never know by asking him.

Haugen, a modest man in his own rights, coached the Austin High School boys' golf program to four state championships in the 1970s and 80s and in November will be inducted into the Minnesota State High School Coaches Association Hall of Fame.

Haugen, 69 of Austin, retired from teaching and coaching from Austin High in 1992. The 1958 Luther College (Decorah, Iowa) graduate, having participated in football and track, took up a teaching job in Austin's school system -- where he eventually finished his career 33 years later.

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A mathematics teacher and junior high football coach, Haugen filled a hole in the golf coaching staff in 1970 and remained with the team until retirement.

On November 9, Haugen will be inducted into the MSHSCA Hall of Fame at an annual awards banquet in Minneapolis.

"All these honors are just a wonderful thing, but I don't like to go out and brag about it," Haugen said. "It came as a surprise. I knew I'd been nominated, and I'm very grateful."

Picked by his peers

Haugen was nominated for the MSHSCA Hall of Fame by longtime LaCrescent golf coach Mac Dahl, who was at one time the president of the Coaches Association and a founding father of the Hall of Fame.

"I'm so happy to get the news," Dahl said. "I wanted to see (Haugen) in there. He was very unassuming, very humble.

"Klem is one of my favorite people and I never really got close to him."

The two head coaches never came head-to-head in dual meets, but Minnesota's single-class state competition level had both teams competing in the same region. Dahl said he could always count on seeing Klem's team near the top.

"He had a great program, Austin always turned out top-quality kids," Dahl said. "He's a quality guy, he's highly organized, sincere in his purposes, he's got great goals … Klem was a hard worker.

"His teams were always well-represented in the Big Nine (Conference) and in the region."

Coaching resume

The AHS boys' golf program claimed state championships in 1974 and three straight from 1979 to 1981. Haugen assisted under Walt Lembke for five years before taking over the reigns and driving the Packers to a state title in his first season as head coach.

"I was blessed with the good golfers, good community support and a lot of help from the Austin Country Club and Ramsey both," Haugen said. "It wasn't all my doing, I don't know what the secret is, but there are a lot of figures in this."

Haugen had as many as 65 kids in a season sign up to play golf, including one eventual All-American in Joe Kroc. Kroc, of Austin, was never on a state championship team for AHS, but finished near the top at a state tournament and went on to nationals in Williamsburg, Va., and placed in the top five to take All-American status.

Others who golfed on Haugen's squads still around Austin include Greg Denisen, Kurt Potach and Joe Bartholomew.

"My thing was just making sure that they practiced and behaved themselves," Haugen said. "I think we had that agreement.

"And the kids got along so well together. That made for camaraderie and of course made them play better together."

In his heyday

Haugen took up golf when he was in the service, and in his heyday was a 5-handicap player. He served a two-year term as president of the Minnesota State High School Golf Coaches Association and was inducted into that institution's Hall of Fame in the spring of 1999.

Klem also ran the girls' golf program in its first few seasons at AHS, and assisted boys' basketball coach Howie Strey for a few years.

Austin High honored Haugen as a Hall of Famer in 1997, and in November he will be the sixth AHS coach named to the MSHSCA Hall of Fame. He joins the late Ove Berven (inducted in 1981), Dick Seltz (1987), Art Hass (1988), Don Fox (1993) and Albert "Bud" Higgins (1998).

"I'm very honored, there were an awful lot of good coaches inducted into the Hall of Fame in the past," Haugen said. "It's a real honor for me, but I don't need all the attention."

Call Ross Thede at 434-2234 or e-mail him at :mailto:sports@austindailyherald.com.