Asked in January when he expected to be announced as the new head coach of the Minnetonka High School football team, Mark Esch laughed. Then he acknowledged his interest in the position.
"I went through the process. It's a challenging field. I sat down with Ted Schultz (Minnetonka Athletic Director), and there's a lot of applicants. I'm going to do my best and be alright with whatever happens," Esch said.
On Tuesday, the hire became official. Esch is the next Skipper head football coach, replacing retired Dave Nelson, who led Minnetonka the last 18 seasons after coaching in total for 42 years.
"I consider it an honor and a privilege to be the next head coach at Minnetonka High School," said Esch. "This program has an already strong foundation. I am looking forward to working with the student-athletes, staff and community to take the program to the next level."
Esch brings 20 years of high school and college coaching experience to this role. Last season, he served as running backs coach on the Minnetonka Football Team and he taught physical education part time at Minnetonka High School.
Esch previously held the position of head football coach at Mankato West High School for 11 seasons, where he led his team to win the 4A Class State Championship in 2008 and the 5A State Championship in 2014. His teams participated in the State Semifinals six times.
In 2008, he was named Class 4A Coach of the Year.
"Coach Esch is a transformational coach who focuses on building a positive culture and strong relationship with students, staff and the community. His mission is to help athletes win on and off the field," Schultz said. "Coach Esch brings a wealth of experience, vision and purpose to Minnetonka Football. He is the right coach to continue the great traditions of the past and lead us forward into a new era."
Esch's previous coaching experience includes one season as offensive coordinator at Prior Lake High School and offensive line coach and strength coach at Austin High School. Prior to that, he was as an assistant coach at the University of South Dakota and University of Wisconsin-La Crosse.
Esch has taught health and physical education in high schools in Minnesota for the past 19 years. He has also held track and field coaching and assistant coaching roles for the past 20 years. Recently, he authored the book Rise of the Warriors, a book about coaching leadership. Esch was a YMCA Community Board Member for three years and has served in many community mentoring roles.
Esch earned a master of arts in exercise science from University of South Dakota and a bachelor of science in health and physical education from the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse.