Eastview High coach celebrates 100th season mentoring student athletes

At practice, Mark Tollefson puts the Eastview High School boys swim team through its paces, but this season it’s Tollefson who's making a splash.

"I never thought I would make it this long,” said Tollefson. “Once I did start coaching. I started coaching at 21 and I just fell in love with it."

For the last 33 years, Tollefson has coached three sports each school year: girls’ swimming in the fall, boys’ swimming in the winter and boys’ track and field in the spring.

He’s now celebrating his 100th season coaching sports at Eastview, Eagan and Sartell high schools over the course of his career.

"I guess the way I look at is I've always done it,” said Tollefson. “I started coaching before I started teaching, I've never known it any other way. I have one week in the school year where I'm between seasons and I frankly don't know what to do with myself.”

In his 100 seasons, Tollefson says he's mentored state champion swimmers and high jumpers - some of whom have gone on continue their sport in college. But it’s the progress made by all of his student athletes that means the most.

"I love to see when a kid comes in where they are at,” he said. “We always talk about setting goals. Here's where they start and where do they end up."

Tollefson says he will continue to coach for as long as he can because he's not quite ready for his last lap just yet.

“I learn something new from the kids every single year,” he said. “That's what's more than anything, keeps it interesting and keeps me doing it year after year."

Tollefson says he's only taken one season off for track and field when he got married 30 years ago.