The excerpt below was taken from the book, Cultivating Men of Faith and Character: The History of Concordia Nebraska Football, written by Jake Knabel, Director of Athletic Communications. It details the impact of longtime equipment manager Stan Schlueter, who was inducted into the Concordia Athletic Hall of Fame in 2014.
“Anybody that sticks in this job more than two years is crazy,” Stan Schlueter once said early in his tenure at Concordia. “I was planning on quitting after the second year.” With a whole 43 years in the books, in 2009, Schlueter finally did resign his services to Concordia. Officially, Schlueter took the title of equipment manager on a 10-month contract when he first began work at the college he had always admired while growing up across the street in Seward (house kitty corner from St. John Lutheran Church). An entire section is what Schlueter deserves after a career that crossed paths with five different Bulldog head football coaches and one that landed him in the school’s athletic Hall of Fame in 2014. Concordia also named the entrance to the Walz Human Performance Complex, “Schlueter Rd.”
Schlueter arguably generated more respect than any athletic department staffer ever for his willingness to take on any role, big or small. He often put in 60 to 70 hour weeks during football season while also filling athletic training needs such as taping ankles. He was also the department’s liaison to Maintenance and others within the city and was involved in set up for many athletic events and practices. At times it seemed like everyone was Stan’s boss, but he still managed to fulfill an impressive array of duties. Said Director of Athletics Devin Smith, “No one person has touched as many lives in Concordia athletics, staff and students alike, as Stan. I can’t think of anyone past or present that is more deserving of induction into our athletics Hall of Fame than him. His distinguished career is overshadowed only by his Christian values and caring heart.” Added Tim Preuss, who worked as a student for Stan, “He’s just a fun guy. What a great servant leader. He would do anything to help anyone who needed something done.”
Often busy readying equipment and tending to the needs of players on game days, Schlueter very rarely had the opportunity to sit and watch Concordia football games. What he remembered most are the people and how everything came together behind the scenes to make things work. “The first thing you think about is the people,” Schlueter said. “I don’t even know how to put it in words. You couldn’t get better people.”
Stan appreciated Concordia’s offerings so much that he preferred his son Andrew turn down a chance to play at the University of Nebraska, where he might struggle to see the field and not receive the same amount of special attention from professors. A big offensive lineman with great feet, Andrew became a standout up front. “I just knew he would get better here,” Stan said of his son remaining in Seward. Andrew was a first team all-conference performer in 2000.
While his son caught some attention around the turn of the millennium, Stan managed to avoid the limelight for much of his career as that guy in the background. “I always figured if no one heard my name I was doing what I was supposed to be doing,” Schlueter said. Stan is a walking, talking source of information on the changes that occurred over time at Concordia. When he was growing up, the current location of Bulldog Stadium was merely a valley filled with trees tended to by a biology professor, who had names for all the trees and cut trails that ran through the landscape. There was also a time when Schlueter raised eyebrows within the athletic department when a purchase order numbered well into the thousands of dollars. It included helmets at $17.95 apiece and kangaroo leather shoes that went for $16.50 per pair.
In addition, when Schlueter first started at Concordia, weight training was nearly nonexistent. Concordia owned only a wooden incline bench and a wooden bar with very few weights. Fundraising efforts helped bring in a universal machine that appeared as state-of-the-art for the time. Years later Courtney Meyer, Steve Sirek and Dean Vieselmeyer brought in Bigger Faster Stronger for a clinic. As a result, Concordia purchased weight benches and squat racks that the handy Schlueter then copied and built more of. Concordia had a leg up on the competition with its much-improved weight room. “Our coaches were ahead of the game,” Schlueter said. “That’s where we had an advantage. We maybe didn’t have as many players as Doane and Wesleyan and those guys. We certainly didn’t have the money they did. We had to find ways to be creative and find ways to do it better. It made a huge difference.”
Somehow Schlueter found time for Concordia even while farming for 15 years and while raising four children with his wife Mary. His career saw the revolution of female sports both across the country and at Concordia. He also persevered through heart surgery in February 1993, which necessitated him taking eight weeks off the job. Near the end of that recovery period, Schlueter just wanted to get back to work.
His career was about service to the people that gave back to him. Said Schlueter, “The quality of the coaches and their character starting with Harms all the way through, you just couldn’t get better people. You go from Harms and Wacker and those guys went on to win national championships and Sid Seevers takes over and wins a conference title. It just keeps going.
“My responsibility was to make it the best place for the coaches to do what they needed to do and the students to have a great experience here. That’s the way our football coaches always were. It was always students first. The officials routinely had great compliments for the team and for how everyone acted. I was so proud of that.”
From a 2010 issue of Concordia’s Broadcaster magazine:
“God has blessed my family through its association with Concordia,” said Schlueter before those gathered (for the naming of Schlueter Road). Stan’s father, Leonard, worked in Concordia’s business office, and Stan’s siblings, wife and children attended. As for his legacy, Schlueter urged Concordia to continue its mission and for co-workers to “keep it going.” “It’s important to educate these young people in a Christ-like manner,” he said.