FAIRMONT, Minn. (KEYC) - 49 years of coaching and counting, Fairmont’s Bob Bonk is a legend in Minnesota sports, and come October, he will be the latest Cardinal inducted into the Minnesota Coaches Association Hall of Fame.
The always optimistic Bob Bonk is out here for season number 111 in a storied career that’s spanned almost five decades.
Bonk has coached over a thousand athletes in that time and now can add Hall of Famer to the resume come October.
“It’s great, many schools have no one. I remember when I was coaching in 1981 when Herb Wolf was named and in 1991 when Tom Mahoney was named, and what’s kind of ironic is I though those guys were pretty old. It’s amazing how fast time goes,” said Bonk.
“The thing that’s really special about this is I guess is because it’s for all sports and it’s a real honor,” Bonk added.
Bonk’s coached a number of successful teams and state champions during his tenure at Fairmont, and while he’s well known for his track and field and cross country coaching abilities, Bonk also used to coach basketball, wrestling and football.
But outside of all the wins and success is the positive example set for his athletes.
“Mr. Bonk always has a positive attitude, and you rarely see him mad. He’s always getting people to come out for cross country, anyone, he’ll try to get anyone out,” said Laura Thompson, Fairmont sophomore.
“A nice thing about track and cross country is that everyone can get better and it can be quantitative, you can see a better time. That’s been my greatest pleasure, we’ve had a lot of success, but being able to see people improve whether you’re number one or number 50 on the team, and then just running into people around town talking about past experiences,” said Bonk.
“The way he pushes us, no coach that I’ve been to pushes us as hard as he does. I like that, he shows us our limits,” said Tony Ortega, Fairmont senior.
Bonk is still going strong in year 49 bringing plenty of fist bumps and energy to practice each day and is undecided on when he’ll close the book on his coaching career.
“Taking it kind of a year at a time, but it’s still fun, and lord willing and the creek don’t rise, I hope to be around yet,” said Bonk.
For now, he’ll continue to leave a mark as one of the best coaches in our area and the state.