Arlow Skjegstad: An Athletic Pioneer
Published on May 16, 2023 at 2:13pm EDT | Author: henningmaster0
To the Editor,
An obituary for Arlow Skjegstad in a recent edition of the Henning Citizen’s Advocate was all too brief. The fact that Arlow lived to 102 when he passed on April 9, 2023 is an achievement by itself.
But there is more to Arlow’s life in terms of Henning athletic history. A native of Henning, Arlow was a junior in high school when the football program was introduced. He was a starter when the six-man tackle program was introduced in the fall of 1939. He was likely the last living member of that squad from 84 years ago.
Like many of the players from that period of Henning history, Arlow went on to military service as the U.S. was fighting in World War II. He served in the Pacific Theater and was stationed in Japan following the end of the war.
The irony of Arlow’s passing comes at a time when Henning football is about to enter another transition. The six-man game in Henning eventually moved to 11-man squads. For the past 70 years, Henning boys have helped form many outstanding squads. The late 1950s, the 1960s and the 1970s were Henning’s hay days before cooperative agreements were needed to keep the game alive.
But as Henning declined in school population and the number of boys coming out for football fell, cooperative agreements, first with Deer Creek, and today Battle Lakem were soon needed to keep the sport viable.
Sadly, the participation numbers for the Otter Tail Central Bulldogs, the Henning/Battle Lake coop, are dropping. This fall, OTC will drop from 11-man football to 9-man squads. Fewer and fewer boys playing the game simply meant playing 11-man football was no longer viable.
So the evolution of football that Arlow helped start in 1939 has come complete circle. His family tradition in athletics continued with son Jack playing for the Hornets in 1965-1967 and daughter Wendy becoming one of the early outstanding athletes in Henning as sports for females were introduced. Arlow Skjegstad was a pioneer athlete whose role in the school’s athletic history should not be forgotten.
Forest Lake, Minn.