John Erickson graduated in 1964 from Fergus Falls High School, where he participated in football, hockey, basketball and track. He went on to earn an associate degree from North Dakota State College of Science in Building Construction Technology, and a bachelor’s degree with studies in Architecture and Art and a master’s degree in Addiction Counseling, all from North Dakota State University. He began his hockey coaching career with the Fergus Falls youth program in 1964-65, eventually owning and operating International Hockey Schools, Inc. with his family and coaching USA teams in Canada, Russia, Norway, Sweden and Finland. In his 40 years of coaching at the youth, high school and junior levels, his teams recorded an impressive 510 wins in 642 games. Erickson was involved in the inception of Fargo’s Squirt International Hockey Tournament, volunteering with the tournament for 30 years, and in the construction of and consultation for the Teamsters Ice Arena and Scheels Sports Arena in Fargo. With his degrees in construction-related studies, Erickson supervised construction of more than 2,200 homes, commercial buildings and Habitat for Humanity projects in the upper Midwest. In his leisure time he has led expeditions to Mount Everest, piloted airplanes, raced sports cars, designed and constructed furniture, designed stained glass, worked in filmmaking and supervised flood fighters in six floods in Fargo.
Daniel Prischmann was a five-year player and senior captain for the Otter football team, graduating from Fergus Falls High School in 1967. He attended the Minnesota State Patrol Academy in 1972 and in 1993 earned his associate degree in business administration from Fergus Falls Community College. Prischmann coached Otter JV football and baseball teams from 2000-2007, serving as a varsity assistant. He was instrumental in the creation in 2005 of the Fergus Falls Area Youth Activities Corporation, which has brought almost all of the Fergus Falls youth sports and fine arts booster clubs together under one umbrella organization. He volunteered hundreds of hours building and managing the area youth football league, which provided a more competitive league for youth from area communities. He coached youth football players in grades 3-8, served as program director and did extensive fundraising for youth athletic equipment and facility improvements. He also was instrumental in expanding the area youth program for summer traveling baseball, with the number of teams increasing from two to six between 2007 and 2012. Prischmann served in the State Patrol from 1972 until 2004, first in the metro area and then in the Fergus Falls region, ending his career as an investigator and accident reconstructionist for fatal and near-fatal accidents. His professional commendations include two State Patrol Meritorious Service Awards for life-saving actions, Trooper of the Year in 1978, Outstanding Public Service Award, Minnesota Department of Public Safety Employee of the Year Award and 1990 Otter Tail County Lawman of the Year. He also served his community through service in the National Guard, as a volunteer with Habitat for Humanity, and with his church, both locally and on mission trips to Texas and Louisiana.
Kevin Pearson was born and raised in Fergus Falls, graduating from Fergus Falls High School in 1992. During his high school career, he earned various team awards including 11 varsity letters (four in football, four in basketball and three in baseball). Kevin was named the team MVP in all three sports. He was a sophomore on the basketball team that finished fourth in the State Tournament in 1990 and was the first basketball player in Otter history to score over 1,000 points. When Kevin graduated, he held 6 basketball records and had been selected to play in all three high school All-Star games. In 1992, Kevin was drafted and signed by the Minnesota Twins. He played for three different teams during his professional baseball career: the Gulf Coast League Twins, the Elizabethton Twins of the Appalachian League and the Fort Wayne Wizards of the Midwest League. While playing baseball, Kevin continued his education at Fergus Falls Community College. He played basketball for the Spartans and was a member of the Spartan team that finished fourth in the National Tournament in Delhi, New York. That same season, he was named the Region 13 Offensive MVP. Kevin then went on to complete his education and basketball career at Concordia College in Moorhead where he was name to the MIAC All-Defensive Team his senior year. Kevin is currently a teacher and coach in the Fergus Falls School District. He and his wife, Laura, have four children: Lily, Paige, Luke and Sarah.
Daryl Tysdal, a 1981 graduate of Fergus Falls High School, was starting offensive and defensive lineman, and went on to become a two-time All-Northwest Conference football player for the Otters under Coach Don Stueve. Daryl played in the Minnesota State All-Star Football game his senior year. As a junior, Daryl was recruited by wrestling coach Kurt Mattison. After wrestling for just two years of his high school career, he held the school record for most pins in a season for many years. Daryl attended Fergus Falls Community College where he continued to play football and wrestle. During his two years at FFCC, Daryl was selected as All-Conference and All-Region in football. Wrestling at heavyweight, Daryl was a two-time Conference Champion and All-American Honoree. Daryl earned a gold medal at the Junior Pan American Games in Colombia, South America in the heavyweight division. He was selected as the Student Athlete of the Year in 1982 at FFCC and was inducted into the FFCC Athletic Hall of Fame in 1993. Daryl continued his education, as well as his athletic career, at Moorhead State University where he was honored as a rare two-sport All-American in football and wrestling in 1985. He was voted Most Dedicated by his football teammates and was recognized as All-Conference and All-Region in football. As a wrestler, Daryl was a two-time conference champion and national qualifier. Daryl returned to his hometown of Fergus Falls in 1992 and teaches Physical Educational at Kennedy Secondary School. He gave many years back to the wrestling program as its head coach and later as an assistant coach. Daryl also shared his knowledge and love of football by coaching elementary and middle school football while his sons were playing. Daryl and his wife, Marie, along with their four children, Leah, Andrew, Eric and Abby, live on their farm outside of Fergus Falls where they grow crops and raise cattle.
David Ellis began teaching in the Fergus Falls Public School system in 1973. Hired by Elementary Director James Langlie, he first taught fourth grade at Lincoln Elementary School. During his career with the Fergus Falls Public Schools, Ellis taught at Jefferson Elementary School, the Middle School, Adams Elementary School and finally, at the Prairie Wetlands Learning Center. Working with others, Ellis developed the Prairie Science Class, a nature-based learning program in 2003. He was the first teacher of the now nationally-recognized Prairie Science Class. Ellis also partnered with Jesse Thorstad to implement the district’s iQ Academy, an online school. He co-authored “Compass to Nature,” a guide to connect people with nature, which is also used in the Prairie Science Classes. Dave was the Fergus Falls Public Schools Teacher of the Year in 1978 and again in 2007. In 2010, he was awarded the national Sense of Wonder award by the United State Fish and Wildlife Service for connecting people with nature .
Mike Kiess began his teaching career with the Fergus Falls School District in 1966. While rarely in the spotlight, Mike has always been very involved with Fergus Falls activities. He spent several years coaching 7th and 8th grade athletics, was on the sideline for varsity football games keeping stats and was also a football scout for 10 years. However, Mike is best known for his work at the scorer’s table at both Otter football and basketball games. Mike first worked as a timer for Otter basketball in 1967 and continued in that role for 50 years.