By David Lias
Mike Freidel, a former assistant head football coach and defensive coordinator for the University of South Dakota Coyotes, passed away Sunday, Oct. 6. He was 57.
Funeral services are scheduled for 11 a.m. Thursday, Oct. 10, at St. Agnes Catholic Church in Vermillion. Visitation will begin at 5 p.m. Oct. 9 at the church, with a prayer service at 6:30 p.m.
Freidel was severely injured while working on a Wyoming ranch in June 2006. While he was inflating a tire on a water truck, the tire exploded. He was struck by the exploding tire and the wheel rim.
The accident occurred on a ranch owned by friends of the Freidel family located approximately 100 miles from Casper, WY.
Originally of Armour, Freidel was in his third season as the assistant head coach and defensive coordinator for USD when the accident occurred. He also served as an assistant professor in the university’s health, physical education and recreation department.
His collegiate coaching career spanned 21 seasons, including a total of five seasons at USD and 15 years at Augustana College.
He was a 1974 graduate of Armour High School, where he excelled in football, basketball, baseball, and track. He attended Dakota State University in Madison, achieved All-American honors on the football squad there, and graduated in 1979 with a double major in Social Science and Physical Education (1979).
Freidel’s obituary describes him as a renaissance man who was also a cowboy, musician, published historical author, and who played a mean guitar in several bands. He was a free agent for San Francisco 49ers, inducted into the Dakota State Athletic Hall of Fame, and published articles on the American Indian Wars.
As soon as spring football was over, he would make his annual trek to his friend’s Wyoming ranch. “Time spent there refueled his soul,” states his obituary.
USD Athletic Director David Herbster, whose employment with the university began in 2007, never had the opportunity to work with Freidel, but became well acquainted with his wife, Joni, and their children who remain active in the Vermillion community.
“I felt like I knew him from all of the conversations I had from people who talked about him,” Herbster said. “They talked about how he was a man of character, a man of integrity, how well-liked he was, how good of a coach he was, and how good of a husband and father he was. I just wish I had the chance to know him.”
In this time of sadness, Herbster said he hopes this is “a time of blessing in that he’s found peace.”
Freidel is survived by his wife, Joni of Vermillion; and their five children, Kelsey (fiancé Joey Nelson), Jackson, Jerrod, Kylen and Hailey Freidel, Vermillion; his mother, Mary and step-father, Chuck Mimmack, Armour; and several siblings, step-siblings and many other relatives.