Droescher ends 31-year career at O-C
If there are two things Oakland-Craig’s Rusty Droescher loves beyond his family, anyone who spends even a few minutes talking with him will realize they are teaching and sports. As this coach, math teacher, computer science teacher, athletic director and eventual principal retires, his accomplishments are many, but the relationships built will be most remembered.
Raised on a farm near Pierce, Nebraska, Droescher initially went to Wayne State College to study journalism in order to pursue a career in radio broadcasting. “I didn’t like all the writing,” Droescher recalls. “I found that I breezed through pre-calculus which led me to believe I could do this (eventually teach math). I got my endorsement math education quick enough I took computer programming classes and had two endorsements when I graduated.”
His career in education was superseded by an opportunity to coach football at his alma matter. The last two years of college, he coached freshman football at Pierce High School. Following student teaching, he took a job at Newcastle High School where he taught math and computer science classes. In being a track and football coach at the school, he jumped at the opportunity to build an actual weight program at the school. First things first, he enlisted the help of a couple of students to build weight racks and benches in a janitorial room that was just big enough to host an eventual 15-20 regular lifters.
He taught 8 periods with no preps but the smaller classrooms allowed for time to prepare. Coming from a larger school, Droescher was ready to move on to teach in larger classrooms. In the spring of 1989, he chose Oakland-Craig over an offer from Wahoo Neuman. In the end, it was the health benefit package that caused him to look more closely at Oakland-Craig. “I was also drawn to O-C because of their facilities. I have never seen sports facilities like theirs anywhere else,” he recalls.
In addition to being able to teach in larger classes, Droescher with some tremendous teachers who also were great coaches. “Clarence Goracke took me under his wing. I learned more from him about teaching as my mentor than I did in the years prior.”
Droescher also had the opportunity to coach with Harry Grimminger, an All-American left guard with the 1985 National Championship Footbal Team. He also coached with the Clark Benne and helped lead the 1995 Oakland-Craig Knights to a state championship. A feat he would repeat in 2019, coaching alongside former O-C quarterback Joe Anderson.
Droecher also remembers working with other mentors such as Swede Hawkins and Boyd Bloemenkamp. Each helping him in their own way model his eventual administrative rolls.
Making a move from strictly teaching to the Oakland-Craig athletic director, he said that he found his most enjoyment with that dual responsibility. It gave him a chance to be a part of his students’ lives both in the classroom and on the field. For someone who loves sports as much as Droescher does, this was a dream come true. “It was the most diverse time of my career and I love diversity,” he recalls. Although it was a very demanding roll, he said he would have had a hard time doing if it wasn’t for the help of his wife Cheri. “They got a two for one deal when I became the athletic director,” he said.
Droescher spent the last 12 years of his 31-year career at Oakland-Craig serving as the high school principal. As much as he appreciated the opportunity, Droescher said he really missed being in the classroom.
The Droeschers are looking forward to attending O-C events and watching from the stands. “It will nice to not have to supervise or tend to the hospitality room. We look forward to simply cheering on the Knights!”
“I want to thank the communities of Oakland and Craig, and anybody I have worked with or worked for over the years,” he said. “It’s a rare occasion when you are able to work in the same location and have so many different jobs. The only thing I haven’t done is be the superintendent and I’m ok with that.”
Although well-wishes are welcome, there is no reason to bid farewell to the Droeschers. “Oakland is our home. It’s our kid’s home. Never say never but we are staying put.”
Droescher will finish his career at Oakland-Craig on June 15th at which time former Oakland-Craig graduate Michelle Burton will take over his administrative duties.
“Michelle’s reputation proceeds her in terms of her ability to help guide the curriculum of the high school and professional development of the staff,” Droescher said. She has presented at various state workshops and has a lot to offer the future of Oakland-Craig.