SDSU’s Coach Stiegelmeier featured at Right to Life event in Hot Springs

Photo by Marcus Heerdt/Fall River County Herald-Star

SDSU head football coach John Stiegelmeier speaks at Hot Springs Area Right to Life’s fall fundraiser, which was held at Woolly’s Grill in Hot Springs last Thursday, Sept. 10.


By Marcus Heerdt

HOT SPRINGS – On Thursday, Sept. 10, the Hot Springs Area Right to Life (HSARTL) hosted South Dakota State University head football coach John Stiegelmeier as their guest speaker at the organization’s fall fundraising event entitled “Unbelievable.” The program was held at Woolly’s Grill in Hot Springs and was attended by an audience of about 50 people.

Notable people in attendance included Dale Bartscher, Executive Director of the South Dakota Right to Life, Frank Birkholt, President of the Hot Springs Area Right to Life, Trish Ladner, District 30 Representative Elect, and Karina Novotny, Miss Fall River Balloon Festival Outstanding Teen and first-place winner of the National Right to Life-Junior Division essay contest.

According to Beth Spitzer, Vice President of HSARTL, this is the first time the organization’s fall fundraiser has featured a guest speaker. “We usually have a singer or musical act, but this amazing opportunity presented itself and we are so happy to have Coach Stiegelmeier here tonight.”

HSARTL President Frank Birkholt spoke first and welcomed everyone to the event and gave a brief history of the non-profit organization. The Hot Springs chapter of South Dakota Right to Life began in January 2015 with the mission to “defend human life from conception to natural death.”

Dale Bartscher, who has been the Executive Director of South Dakota Right to Life for 18 months, spoke next and explained that South Dakota’s Right to Life affiliate has existed for 51 years with 40 local chapters throughout the state. Bartscher said that due to COVID-19, there has not been a single abortion in South Dakota in five months. Also, Bartscher said South Dakota was recently ranked the 10th most pro-life state in the country by Americans United for Life, a pro-life advocacy group based in Washington, D.C. Bartscher then introduced the main speaker for the evening, Coach Stiegelmeier.

John Stiegelmeier has been the head coach of the Jackrabbits football team since 1997 and is the winningest coach in SDSU football history with a record of 166-105 over the span of 23 seasons. A native of Selby, S.D., Stiegelmeier has led the Jackrabbits to nine FCS playoff appearances and the team has been ranked in the top 25 polls 11 times in the past 14 years.

The title of the talk, “Unbelievable,” refers to the differences between what humans view as unbelievable and what God would see as unbelievable.

While driving back from a recruiting trip in Wisconsin and Minnesota, Stiegelmeier said that the song “Mighty to Save” played on the radio which includes the lyrics “My Savior, He can move the mountains…” Stiegelmeier thought that the ability of the Lord to move mountains was unbelievable and began to make a list of his own things he considers unbelievable. Stiegelmeier’s unbelievable list includes: the athletic ability of those featured in Sportscenter’s Top 10 Plays, the amount of vehicles in Los Angeles traffic jams, the smell of homemade bread, how fast cottonwood trees grow, the immense size of cruise ships, sunrises and sunsets, and the birth of a child. Coach Stiegelmeier has four kids and four grandchildren.

In regards to what God believes is unbelievable, Stiegelmeier’s list consists of: hunger, food insecurity, and starvation, churches no longer being a sanctuary, the erosion of society’s morals, conformity to a worldly lifestyle, and the legality of abortion. “These kids were not allowed to see the unbelievable things in this aborted baby is too is precious,” Stiegelmeier said.

Stiegelmeier ended with, “Can the Lord move a mountain? The answer is is a lot easier to stop abortion...that would be unbelievable.”

The evening ended with the entire audience rising to their feet and singing the first verse of “God Bless America.”

Near the beginning of the evening, and after learning that this reporter was an SDSU alumni, Coach Stiegelmeier said, “I could tell, you have a wonderful glow about you.”

Fall River County Herald Star

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