With the school year rapidly approaching, the Pine River-Backus School District found its new activities director just under the wire in the form of Tim Tungseth.

The Fergus Falls native has served in the role of activities director for the past seven years, first with Crosby-Ironton and more recently in Maple Lake, and has been looking for an opportunity to move back to the lakes area.

“My wife has a cabin just north of Nisswa that she has been going to every summer of her life,” Tungseth said. “It is just an area we always looked at as where we want to get back to and settle. When this opportunity opened up, it was an attractive opportunity for us to look at moving up to this area.”

He reported to work for the first time Monday, Aug. 31, succeeding longtime activities director Randy Schwegel, who had worked in the district for 40 years before retiring at the end of the 2019-20 school year.

In his seven years as an activities director, Tungseth feels as though he has been relatively successful in that role, including being named his previous district’s Activities Director of the Year in 2017.

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“We had a lot of success in Maple Lake, which I attribute to having a wonderful coaching staff and good support system, but I like to think that I contributed and helped with some of that,” he said. “During my time at Pine River, I just hope to make this home, be able to work with outstanding people and provide good opportunities for the students. I really want to get to know the people - the coaches and advisers - and have a lot of success.”

While in Maple Lake, Tungseth worked just a few miles down the road from newly hired Pequot Lakes activities director Byron Westrich, who served the Kimball School District. That trend now continues a little farther north.

Now that he has reported for duty at PR-B, Tungseth said he is ready to start getting to know his co-workers and members of the community, and hopes his experience serves him well in the early months of the school year.

“When I started in this position in Crosby during my first year, there were just a lot of things that I had to learn on the fly,” Tungseth said. “I feel like (my experience) is going to allow me to kind of hit the ground running a little bit quicker.”

That experience should come in handy this school year, as the COVID-19 pandemic has shifted the football and volleyball seasons to spring, and the sports that are allowed to proceed as scheduled - for PR-B, just cross-country - currently have no postseason planned and could come to a halt if cases rise in the area.

“I think people have to be willing to be flexible and patient, and they just have to be willing to work with people,” Tungseth said. “In the current situation, there are a lot of unknowns … Typically, when we are doing scheduling and working with coaches, I’m working almost a year ahead. Now, we are looking at things on more of a week-by-week and month-by-month basis, if not day-by-day.

“It’s not necessarily in everyone’s comfort zone, but we just have to be flexible and work with it,” he said.

He was “not completely surprised” by the Minnesota State High School League’s decision to move the football and volleyball seasons, but is thankful they were not simply canceled.

He also thought having just one sport to maintain right away would “undoubtedly” help with his transition in a year filled with uncertainty.

More than anything though, Tungseth said he is simply excited for the opportunity to work in Pine River-Backus and plant his roots in the community.

“I think with the way things have been since March, just the ability to go to a cross-country meet and stop in at practice and interact with people - that is something I am really looking forward to,” he said.

Dan Determan may be reached at 218-855-5879 or dan.determan@pineandlakes.com. Follow him on Facebook and on Twitter at www.twitter.com/@PEJ_Dan.