SVHS head track coach retires after 20 years

John Waddell, Park High Intern; and Liz George, Enterprise Staff Writer
Tuesday, June 4, 2019
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Enterprise photo by Nate Howard

Shields Valley High School’s Alan Peterson smiles during his final semester as the Rebel track and field head coach.

Back when “Dances with Wolves” won best picture and the number one song on the radio was “Good Vibrations” by Marky Mark and the Funky Bunch, the small town of Clyde Park welcomed the man who would become one of the longest-running head track coaches in Rebel history: Alan Peterson.

Peterson’s story started 75 miles south of the Shields Valley in Gardiner where he grew up surrounded by sports.

As the years went by, young Peterson grew into a three-sport athlete, but it was his father’s coaching that struck a chord with the young Bruin well into his adult life.

According to Peterson, he remembers his father really enjoying his time as a track and field coach in Gardiner at both the high school and junior high level.

So, when Peterson first moved to the Shields Valley in 1991, he followed in his father’s footsteps and caught the coaching bug as the head girls’ basketball coach and an assistant for the boys’ team at Shields Valley High School.

Peterson clearly had a knack for coaching –– he posted a 283-77 record as the girls’ head coach.

As the snow melted and the winter sports season came to an end, Peterson’s love for coaching led him outside where he got involved in junior high track and field.

Then, in the spring of 1999, Peterson became the head track and field coach at Shields Valley High School, marking the start of over 20-years of dedication to Rebel athletics.

As head coach, Peterson focused on sprints, jumps, and relays.

“I am very thankful for my assistant coaches,” said Peterson. “I always have amazing help with throwing events.”

While at the helm of the track program, Peterson led the Rebels to lots of success.

Under Peterson, SVHS earned seven district track meet titles, and finished in the top three at the district track meet 19 times.

The Rebels also had 8 top three finishes at divisionals under Peterson.

Although they were never able to win a state championship, Peterson and the Rebels got very close. They earned third place three times and placed fourth twice.

Time flies

To Peterson, spending his winters on the basketball court and springs coaching track and field was taking too much time away from his family, so he decided to make a change.

In 2013, despite his success on the court, Peterson stepped away from coaching basketball so that he could watch his own kids play, but continued as the track and field head coach.

After 28 years as a resident, and 20 years as Rebel track and field head coach, Peterson is happy to still call the Shields Valley home.

Moving on

Even with all the success, Peterson is ready to step away and is excited for the next chapter in his life.

“It just felt like the right time to do it,” said Peterson.

Peterson will be retiring from being both the elementary school principal and SVHS head track and field coach at the end of the 2018-2019 school year.

Peterson said he will never forget the relationships he built along the way

“Watching individuals or teams come together and perform at a higher level than they ever thought they could,” said Peterson. “That was the most enjoyable part.”