Sports: Quintal inducted into NHSACA Hall

Joe Quintal is most known in Mitchell for the football and track stadium that was named in his honor. But what people may not know is what the former Mitchell High coach meant to the school's athletic program. For all that he did, Quintal might h...

Joe Quintal is most known in Mitchell for the football and track stadium that was named in his honor.

But what people may not know is what the former Mitchell High coach meant to the school's athletic program.

For all that he did, Quintal might have received his greatest honor more than 21 years after his death.

On June 28, Quintal was officially inducted into the National High School Athletic Coaches Association (NHSACA) Hall of Fame in Branson, Mo.

The NHSACA was formed to recognize high school coaches for their achievements and to promote high school activities. The primary goal of the NHSACA is to raise the quality and competence of high school athletic coaching and administration to the highest level possible.


Quintal was a coach and/or athletic director at MHS for 40 years, spanning from 1926-1965. Quintal's daughter, Mary Vrooman, 75, Sioux Falls, thinks her dad "would've been thrilled" by the honor that was bestowed upon him. Quintal died in 1985.

"I don't think he would've ever expected such a thing," Vrooman said. "He loved coaching and the camaraderie he had with his players and other coaches. He dearly adored Howard Wood, and he's in this Hall of Fame, too. Howard was like a surrogate father to my dad because he lost his father when he was 4."

Vrooman is right about the prestigious individuals from South Dakota her dad is following into with the NHSACA Hall. Some of the other South Dakota names inducted include Howard Wood, Max Hawk, Tom Long, Ken Greeno, Larry Luitjens and Jerry Miller, who still coaches football at Montrose and accepted Quintal's plaque at the induction ceremony in Branson in late June.

In fact, Miller, 64, got his start in coaching thanks to Quintal back in 1960.

"Joe hired me to coach fifth-grade basketball in Mitchell when I was going to Dakota Wesleyan," Miller said. "That was my first coaching job and it was a great deal. I was a sophomore in college. I'll never forget that. I made sure I told that story when I accepted the plaque."

Vrooman couldn't make the trip to Branson and Miller said he was happy to accept the plaque for Quintal.

"Joe would've been humbled by this honor. He was a little giant," Miller said, referring to Quintal's 5-3 height. "I mean that in the best way. One time, he wrote me a thank-you note for the coaching I did. I must have opened that note 100 times or more. He told me I could be a great coach some day because of the enthusiasm I had. Joe was one of my mentors and why I got started into coaching."

Miller is part of the NHSACA committee from South Dakota that nominates people from the state for the national Hall of Fame. Miller is still on the NHSACA national board after serving as president from 1989-1990. Joining Quintal as this year's other South Dakota Hall of Fame inductee was Gayle Hoover, a longtime basketball coach at Parker.


Quintal coached every sport at MHS until he gave up his basketball coaching job in 1949. He coached the MHS football program for 31 years. He led the Kernels to 16 state basketball appearances and won state titles in 1930, 1932, 1935, 1940 and 1948.

Quintal's 1928 football team went 8-0 and four other teams he coached only had one loss in 1935, 1946, 1947 and 1955.

He also founded the Corn Palace Relays in 1947, which will celebrate its 60th anniversary this coming spring.

In 1957, he retired from coaching but remained on as athletic director and the physical education director. He retired from MHS in 1965.

Quintal was also the commissioner of the old South Dakota Intercollegiate Conference. He also was one of the original founders of the Eastern South Dakota Conference, which was organized as the "Big 10" in 1927.

Before coming to Mitchell, Quintal began his coaching career in Vermillion. He coached there from 1923-25. He graduated from the University of South Dakota in 1923. Quintal played football at USD and still holds the school record for the longest run from scrimmage in a game with a 105-yard scamper back in a game against South Dakota State in 1922.

He was inducted into the USD Hall of Fame in 1972. Quintal is also a member of the South Dakota Sports Hall of Fame.

He was born in Jefferson on Dec. 18, 1899. While playing football at Elk Point, he captained the 1917 state championship football team.


Vrooman said her dad loved football and track the most.

"He loved football. He was a quarterback in high school and a halfback in college," said Vrooman, who graduated from MHS in 1949. "My dad just loved Mitchell, though. It was the place to be back then. He came in 1926 and never left. He manicured the track before every meet, too. You can't imagine what he did with that track meet. He put a lot of time into it."

Bob Brooks, a longtime principal and coach at MHS, was also hired by Quintal. Brooks said what Quintal did for the Corn Palace Relays back then was astonishing.

"Joe was one of the grand daddies of athletics in Mitchell," Brooks said. "He was behind everything with the Corn Palace Relays. We used to bring in college teams from all over the place. I remember Western Kentucky came here one year and Iowa State used to come over. It was a huge track meet. He's the guy that made it go. We had class activities because of him."

Brooks was hired as the head boys' basketball coach at Mitchell in 1958. On an interesting note, Brooks was interviewed by Quintal at Quintal's home while he was lying sick in bed.

"I interviewed with the superintendent and principal and then they told me I needed to talk to Quintal. But, he was sick in bed," Brooks recalled. "He interviewed me while he had the flu. He was laying in bed. I got the job and it was a good ride. It was a great thing for me and my family."

Brooks was with the Mitchell School District from 1958-1994. He coached from 1958-1967. While Brooks didn't get to see Quintal coach in person, he did say that his former athletes always respected him.

"He's more noted for football, but if you look at how many state basketball championships he won, he might've been a better basketball coach," Brooks said. "He had a really strong influence on his kids. They all swore by him. He was really well-respected."


Vrooman is the last surviving member of her family. Her mother, Edith, died in 1993 and her brothers Clark and Bob have also passed away. Before her dad died, however, Quintal did get to see the stadium dedicated in his honor in 1984.

"He was here for that and he was absolutely shocked and elated when that happened," Vrooman said. "He was speechless."

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