Mar. 10—ELGIN — Elgin High School has lost one of its most popular educators.
Jeff Rysdam, a social studies teacher at the school and its head football coach, died Monday, March 8.
Rysdam taught in the Elgin School District for about eight years and had been the high school's head football coach since 2017.
"He was always trying to give kids opportunities and introduce them to new things," said Elgin School District Superintendent Dianne Greif.
Elgin High assistant football coach Brock Eckstein echoed this sentiment.
"He was 100% dedicated to kids, to their academic and athletic futures," Eckstein said. "Every kid at Elgin High School has nothing but good things to say about him."
He said the walls of Rysdam's classroom were covered with cards and invitations from his students.
"He had a special bond with all of his students," Eckstein said.
Rysdam graduated from Elgin High School in 1996 and later from Eastern Oregon University.
He led the EHS football team to the state playoffs in 2018 and 2019. The Huskies' 2018 appearance in the state playoffs was their first in a decade.
Greif noted that Rysdam, who was also the high school's athletic director, led his players on community service projects including the annual cleanup of the Elgin Stampede Grounds and Elgin's annual cleanup day.
Rysdam also took his players to college football games at Oregon State University in Corvallis, Washington State University in Pullman and Boise State University in Boise, Idaho, to introduce his players to new higher education environments.
Greif said Rysdam had a colorful and engaging personality that helped him connect with students.
"He was definitely a student favorite," Greif said. "Before school, at lunch and after school there were as many students in his classroom as space would allow."
The Observer was not able to confirm the cause of Rysdam's death.