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Coach leads young people in sports, life

Pastor Alan Stahlecker guides his flock, coaches teams with grace

Staff writer

St. John’s Lutheran Church in Lincolnville is the only congregation Pastor Alan Stahlecker has served since becoming a minister. He has guided his flock since 1993.

His second love is sports, and he has been guiding Centre High’s athletes since 2002, when he first was employed as a Rule 10 track coach. He became coach of the cross-country team a year later, a position he held for two years.

Stahlecker became the assistant girls’ basketball coach in 2004 and became the head coach in 2009-2010, a position he still holds.

He said his congregation and the school district have worked together with him to accommodate him in his dual duties. He has missed only one sports event as a coach, and that was to attend his mother’s funeral.

Stahlecker is a certified public accountant. His expertise with figures shows up in his sports reports.

“I like numbers,” he said. “I have a love of statistical things and can apply them to my coaching strategy.”

He’s not as hard-hitting as some coaches may be, but he enjoys forming close relationships with the athletes.

“I’m a coach when I’m out there,” he said. “I’m not preaching the Gospel to them, but at the same time, they know I’m a pastor, and they respect that.”

His basketball teams have had six winning seasons out of the 10 years he has been head coach.

One of the challenges he enjoys the most is seeking a strategy to compete with a better team.

“Those are always difficult games to win, but when we do, it is exhilarating,” he said.

The highlights of his career so far were the years 2012 through 2015, when his team won four consecutive sub-state tournaments and competed in four state tournaments. The final one resulted in a third-place finish.

A sports history

Stahlecker has a long history of involvement in sports. He grew up in Colorado in a small town about the size of Marion.

Basketball was his favorite in high school, but he also achieved all-state honorable mention in football and went to the state meet both years he was on the cross-country team. He qualified for the state track meet for three years and won two medals.

He played varsity basketball for three years and, as a junior, went with his team to the state tournament. He planned to play basketball in college but instead joined the decathlon team.

Decathlon is a series of 10 track and field events that take place during two days. They include 100-meter dash, long jump, shot put, high jump, 400-meter dash, 110-meter high hurdles, discus, pole vault, javelin, and 1500-meter run.

Stahlecker qualified for nationals his last three years and placed third and fourth, respectively, during his junior and senior years. He received All- American honors from the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics both years.

He majored in accounting and was a member of Phi Beta Lambda, a business organization similar to Future Business Leaders of America. As a senior, he placed first in competition and first in nationals.

After working as an accountant for several years, he unexpectedly felt called to the ministry, much to the delight of his mother, who had always wanted one of her four sons to be a pastor.

He was 30 years old when he entered Concordia Theological Seminary in Fort Wayne, Indiana. He played basketball in seminary. He was ordained and installed at Lincolnville in July 1993.

He and his wife, Sheri, raised three children — Andrea, Todd, and Brianne — at Lincolnville. They all excelled in Centre sports, and daughter Brianne coaches middle school girls basketball in Seward, Nebraska.

“She loves it as much as I do,” Stahlecker said.

His wife, Sheri, has worked in Centre school district for 26 years. They have seven grandchildren.

Last modified Dec. 5, 2019

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