Nordquist steps down from life of service to area youths

Dec 30 2012 - 11:02pm

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NORTH OGDEN -- It's hard to go anywhere with Dave Nordquist without running into someone he coached, taught or mentored in the Ogden area.

It has been 40 years since Nordquist began working with the Ogden School District as a teacher and coach. Now, after teaching, coaching, managing several pools and running the community services department in North Ogden, Nordquist is retiring.

He started teaching at Mount Ogden Junior High in 1972 and ran the Lorin Farr Pool in the summers. He did that until 1986, when he started managing the Ogden High School pool.

He also coached football and baseball at Ogden High School at different times and became the athletic director of Ogden High School in 1986 as well. He laughed as he remembered getting hired as the athletic director.

"The principal told me he wasn't really sure what I was supposed to do, but we would go for it," Nordquist said. Now every high school has an athletic director, Nordquist said.

He officially retired from the school district in 2003, but managed the Ben Lomond pool from 2003 to 2007. That was only part time.

"I dabbled in part time, but I was still young and I needed to do something," Nordquist said. He applied for the job as the aquatics center manager in North Ogden. He was hired and soon after was offered the job of community services director, a job he came to love very much. He has been doing that for the past four years.

Nordquist played baseball at the University of Utah and admits that swimming wasn't really his thing.

"I've never been the greatest swimmer," he said, laughin.

But he knows about pools and helping kids learn to swim -- and about lifeguards, even though, when he first started, many kids weren't even required to take lifeguard classes or even have lifeguards at the pools.

He looks back on his career with great fondness, but not for the managing work. His main love is for all the kids he helped along the way.

"It's my association with the thousands of kids I've either coached, taught or hired," Nordquist said of his fondest memories of his 40-year career.

He loves running into former students whom he coached or in whose lives he was somehow involved.

North Ogden Mayor Richard Harris said that is one thing he has always enjoyed about Nordquist.

"He is so extremely knowledgeable about working with teenagers. He just knows how to work with kids," Harris said.

Two of Nordquist's daughters, Jill Searle and Jana Williams, admire that about their dad. The girls attended Ogden High, where he worked, and they spent a lot of time with him growing up, which isn't common for many kids. The Nordquist girls thought their dad was great.

"Me and my sisters never played a lot of sports, but watching him interact with the kids is something special. I have always learned so much from my dad," Williams said. "He has the golden touch with youth. That's who he loves and adores."

Nordquist is in the Utah state Coach's Hall of Fame and coached a state-winning Ogden High baseball team. He fondly remembers standing in the dirt of what is now the baseball field at Ogden High and wondering just how he could make it work, so players would be able to have a field off Harrison Boulevard and not hit the baseballs onto the busy street. He talked about the exact dimensions he figured to make it work.

That's the kind of expertise that makes Nordquist a gem for the community.

Harris said Nordquist's vast knowledge has helped make the city's aquatic center successful, but also has built up the parks all around North Ogden in the past four years. Nordquist was also instrumental in getting the new community services building built.

Nordquist takes pride in some of the changes made to the parks in North Ogden, such as additional basketball courts, volleyball courts, a new soccer complex and improvements to baseball diamonds.

Nordquist has always believed it's important for kids to participate in sports or any extracurricular activity to give their lives something extra.

"I want to be an advocate for that kind of stuff, and I think I have been," Nordquist said. "It's just such a passion for me."

Nordquist has 19 grandkids and, now that he's retired, he plans to go to -- and coach -- a lot more baseball, soccer and football games.

Williams said it's inspiring and fun to watch him interact with his grandkids and coach them.

Searle agrees. He's a coach for Searle's sons in Morgan, and he plans to continue to do that. He also wants to spend as much time as he can with his wife, Eileen.

Everyone who comes into contact with Nordquist has only good things to say. North Ogden City Councilman Wade Bigler said he has an emormous amount of respect for Nordquist.

"Dave Nordquist is an icon throughout the entire Ogden area within athletic and recreation circles," Bigler said. "Our city will miss his expertise, and I will personally miss his friendship."

Harris hopes that, even though Nordquist is retired, he won't be completely gone.

Harris said: "I expect to see him around as a volunteer."

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