Todd Emslie, the only coach ever to lead Bigfork High School to a state football championship, has retired after 16 years at the helm of the Vikings program.
The 54-year-old Emslie spent two stints as Bigfork’s head coach, first from 1999-2004, then from 2009-18. His Vikings won the Class B state title in 2010 and won eight District 7B championships in the last 10 years. Emslie also spent five years as an assistant coach in the late 1990s.
Emslie was a college quarterback at the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point and he coached his son, Augie, at the same position through his senior year in 2017. The elder Emslie had long planned to step away after the 2018 campaign, sticking around just beyond his son’s graduation to take an 11-member senior class through one final season.
“I didn’t want (this year) to be about this pending retirement,” Emslie said. “Truth be told, I think that most people probably knew that it was coming but I never came out and said, ‘Hey, this is my last game.’”
The response to Emslie’s decision has been overwhelming, he said, with congratulatory calls and texts pouring in from former players and fellow coaches. Emslie will continue working as a middle school teacher and hopes to remain involved, in some way, with the football program.
“It’s not like I’m dying or on my death bed,” he said, wryly. “I’ll be around and there are some really good up-and-coming kids in this program, and whoever the next coach is I’d be more than happy to volunteer.”
Emslie won more than 100 games as a head coach in his career and took the Vikings to the semifinals of the Class B playoffs last season.