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Bruce Larson, Somerset

04/01/2023, 12:00pm CDT

Bruce Larson impacted the lives of thousands of students through his work as a coach and a teacher.

Larson was a coaching legend in Somerset. From 1987 to 1998 he served as an assistant coach under his friend, Brad Nemec. Larson was the Somerset football varsity coach from 1999-2021. His record during his tenure was 180-73. During this time, he coached Somerset to nine Middle Border Conference Championships and led the Spartans to WIAA State Championships in 2002, 2012, and 2014. Larson’s Somerset teams also finished as the state runners-up in 2004, 2005, and 2011.

In the years after becoming head coach, Larson became deeply involved in character education. He used the system of “Coaching to Change Lives” by Dennis Parker as a basis for his character instruction. He used values modeled by the U.S. Army as a framework for expectations of his athletes.

Bruce’s coaching accomplishments earned him many honors. Following the 2014 state championship, he was named the Wisconsin Football Coach of the Year. Weeks later, Larson was the recipient of the Don Shula NFL Coach of the Year Award. Larson received the trophy from Shula, the winningest coach in NFL history, at the Super Bowl in January 2015.

Family and football were the two most important things to Bruce Larson, and he took great pride in both. Larson and his wife, Kelly, were married in 1987. Kelly is a long-time elementary school teacher in Somerset. Their sons Rocky and Reggie were four-year players for Somerset. Daughter McKell, was the Spartan team manager throughout middle school and high school. She was always at her dad’s side, keeping him organized during practices and charting plays during games.

Their children followed them into coaching and education. Rocky, first as defensive coordinator at UW-River Falls and now as head coach at Mayville State University in North Dakota. Reggie became a physical education teacher and head football coach in New Richmond. McKell became a history teacher in Osceola. When Somerset student Gaelin Elmore needed a home, the Larson family made him a part of their family. Gaelin is a motivational speaker and advocates for youth and foster care improvement.

Bruce’s parents, Jerry and Joyce, rarely missed a Spartan game. Bruce was a 1982 graduate of Spring Valley High School. Bruce was a part of Spring Valley’s 1978 state championship team. He was also a standout heavyweight wrestler at Spring Valley, advancing to the WIAA state tournament twice.

Bruce was an incredibly dedicated teacher and coach, devoting long hours to planning for his team. Larson saw the potential in every student he worked with, whether it was through the athletes he coached, the physical education students he taught, the weight lifters he motivated or the student drivers from many school districts he instructed. He was also quite willing to share his thoughts on football to any coaches who sought out his knowledge.

Tag(s): Hall of Fame