HINTON, Iowa | For the first time ever, The Sioux City Journal is honoring Siouxland Football co-coaches of the year.
But that’s just how Steve Diediker and Bruce Held have operated at Hinton.
For three decades.
Diediker, a Ponca High School and Wayne State College graduate, and Held, a Hinton and Northwestern College alum, just completed their 30th season as co-head coaches.
And what a season it was.
The Blackhawks made it all the way to the Iowa Class 1A state championship game, dropping a hard-fought 21-14 contest to Wapsie Valley.
This was Diediker and Held’s 10th playoff team, but what made this run so remarkable is the fact that until this season, Hinton had just a 1-9 record in the playoffs.
The Blackhawks finished 10-4, running the duo’s all-time coaching mark to 155-122.
“The personalities mesh,” said Garie Rusk, a longtime teacher and coach in the Hinton school district. “To be together for 30 years is more than most people are married.
“It’s a unique ability, one coaches offense (Held) and one defense (Diediker) and they stay out of each other’s areas. But when it comes game time, they are the ones running the show in their area.”
Rusk, who coached girls basketball for 25 seasons and retired from teaching 10 years ago, spent time on Diediker and Held’s football staff and has ties to the two.
Rusk was Held’s seventh grade spelling teacher and turned the junior high football program over to Diediker when he graduated from Wayne State.
The two were assistant coaches for several seasons before taking over the program in 1983.
Under their tutelage, Hinton made the playoffs in 1989, ’91, ’92, ’98, 2002, ’07, ’08, ’09, ’10 and ’12.
“You couldn’t get any better two guys for the community, school and kids,” said Gary Fischer, the mayor of Hinton and a longtime football statistician. “With those guys, the kids come first. Even in life, they’re trying to make their lives better through the teaching of their classes and sports and you can build a lot of character through that.
“I think they put that ahead of everything. Winning is a lot, but it’s not everything.”
As far as boys sports are concerned, there’s nothing Diediker and Held haven’t coached.
Held, a 1975 Hinton graduate, was the basketball coach and still coaches golf. Diediker, meanwhile, just stepped down after 33 seasons as baseball coach and is still the track and field mentor.
“Coach Held and ‘D’ are two guys who just love football,” said John Zevenbergen, a 2002 Hinton graduate who went on to enjoy a stellar collegiate career at Morningside and played for the Sioux City Bandits indoor league team. “Football has been a big part of who I am and it started with those two guys.
“When you talk about Hinton, all of us who played there have a tremendous amount of pride in the program. Coaches Held and ‘D’ instilled that pride and we’re proud of them.”
Zevenbergen will begin his third season as an assistant coach for the Bandits.
Joel Small, the highly successful girls baskeball coach, just completed his 11th season on the football staff.
“They are two great men to coach with and are such great role models, not only as coaches but for students in general,” Small said. “They are passionate about the game and go about it the right way.
“They’re both hands-on type of guys who are in the weight room with the kids every morning. I’ve learned a lot from them every day I’ve coached with them.”
Hinton’s march to the Dome included a pair of victories over powerful West Lyon, one during the regular season and another in a playoff quarterfinal.
“The teams they coach are always very well-prepared and fundamentally sound year in and year out,” said West Lyon Coach Jay Rozeboom, the 1995 Siouxland Coach of the Year. “You have to play four quarters to compete with their teams. They just played at a high level this year.
“The big thing about Bruce and Steve is, they are top quality people first as well as great football coaches.”
Held – who was also athletic director for a number of years – and wife Barb are the parents of three grown children and have three grandchildren.
Diediker and wife Pam have four grown sons and one grandchild. His son, Matt, has followed in his footsteps and coaches in the Twin Cities area.
And, by the way, if nobody else is available to drive the bus, Diediker and Held will be behind the wheel.
Just the kind of guys they are.