When Dave Breitbach closes his door as principal at Baker High School for the last time June 9 and turns in the keys, he will be leaving the campus with a lot of memories.
But, he won’t be far away.
Baker has been a big part of his life, growing up in the community, going to school, marrying a local girl and having his children grow up.
So, now with more time on his hands his new mission will be to spend more time with his wife, his family and his grandchildren, he explained.
He graduated from Baker in 1975 and would later return to follow in his father’s footsteps, teaching at BHS, after graduating from Dickinson State University.
He would return to the Spartan sidelines as a coach in football, basketball and track, just a few short years after competing.
After starting as a physical education teacher for about 19 years and a drivers education instructor for many years, Breitbach would move on to the administrative side of education on the campus. “I was vice principal for a few years, starting in 2003” he recalled.
He would also be the head basketball coach during one of the biggest seasons in school history. The double overtime semifinal victory over Wolf Point in 2000 is considered to the most famous game in the history of Baker – where the team went on to win the state championship.
He was on the bench as the head coach for the Spartans in that game.
The recent radio rebroadcast of the famous game also had some of his old players reconnect with him by phone and text in December.
“When I got into the administration, I got out of coaching,” he said. “As an administrator it is very tough to be involved. You have to run all the activities for different events, but basketball especially. “I went one or two more years (as coach) after we won the championship in 2000, but then Jay Shumaker took it over,” he explained. “When I went into administration, I was the assistant principal and the assistant athletic director. Being the assistant athletic director, I ran all the home events. When I moved to principal, I stayed as the athletic director, but I didn’t do so many of the home events. I did the scheduling, the buses, the meals and the motels – the logistics.”
Still, sports have continued to play a major role in his campus life, even as administrator – as a principal and athletic director. He was recognized as Class B Activities Director of the Year at the 2020 MHSA annual meeting held January 2020 at the Billings Hotel & Convention Center.
Baker was Breitbach’s first teaching job. “It’s a great community. I was raised here. I love the community. I love the people. I had the opportunity to come back home. It was kind of an ideal situation for me at the time. I got married to a local girl (Jerri) and the rest is history,” he said. “My wife has a business in town (Sew What Custom Embroidery) so I won’t be going very far. She is very involved in that.”
Breitbach said that he still may go to some local Baker events and spend more time on the golf course.
“For the past 35 years, I haven’t done a lot of things because starting in the fall, there was football, then basketball, then track. I was always involved. There were activities until the end of May and then you were tied up until June, so I don’t know what I’ll do (now),” he added.
Back when he was an assistant coach in football, there were camps and weight training during the summer, then during the season, there would be practice, then games, then watching films, he explained.
“When I first came to Baker, I was an assistant football coach. I also did junior high basketball.”
He said he coached three sports for about 15 years.
When he became the activities director, he became even more involved. “You are at all the activities, whether it would be the band concerts, speech and drama, the Academic Olympics and all the other great activities that we have up at the school,” he said.
He enjoyed his time as the athletic director. “You got to see kids – and not just the ones that you were coaching – perform. It was great.”
“There is way to many to count or single out,” he said, recalling what has stood out in his time at Baker. But, he did cite the Baker girl who recently won a state wrestling crown in the first year Montana offered the sport.
“It is just the simple little things – watching someone get a PR in track … it is a fun thing. I have been a part of seven state championships – six in football and one in basketball.”
“It just goes back to watching the kids succeed … not necessarily to the pinnacle and winning it all, but to just watch them succeed, better themselves and see that smile when they have done something good. That can be in the classroom too when someone does really well on a test.”
“Just watching them do those things is always exciting,” he added.