(Note: a previous version of this story erroneously had Hurley instead of Parker in the title)
SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — For 34 years, retiring teacher Phil Bjorneberg has made the journey from Parker, where he coaches and teaches at Parker High School, to Sioux Falls where he lives.
On Friday, a relay between the communities paid tribute to the man known as Mr. B, with well-wishers giving the track and cross country coach a thank-you worthy of his commitment.
“We had former students, we had state championship track kids that followed in cars that Mr. B had coached, we had teachers, former teachers, community members, anybody that we reached out to that wanted to help out … we had 19 different, either families or individuals that participated, they either walked, rode a bike or jogged,” Parker School District Superintendent Donavan DeBoer said.
DeBoer took the relay’s final leg. Bjorneberg says it’s “emotional” to see this happen for him.
“Very overwhelming, I started getting videos and texts fairly early, and I wasn’t sure exactly what was going on, but I thought it was just maybe a little bit of a tribute, which was really cool, didn’t know that it was leading up to this,” Bjorneberg said.
His wife Jennifer was there, too.
“He’s worked so hard for so many years, and I’m just really, really proud of him, and it’s not that many people that stick with a career that long,” Jennifer Bjorneberg said.
“We just thought, the best thing we can do is we can honor the fact that he traveled so many times to Parker,” DeBoer said. “We’re going to do that for him, and we’re going to travel to him, and in the spirit of track and relays, and he’s coached a lot of championship relay teams.”
That team spirit comes through on Friday, too.
“Every teacher deserves this, so I feel kind of, like maybe I don’t deserve this, but everybody does, so very much appreciative,” Phil Bjorneberg said.