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Dave Stead, National High School Hall of Fame inductee, Class of 2023

Posted: Thursday, March 16, 2023 - 3:16 PM

Dave Stead

Dave Stead, the longest-serving executive director of the Minnesota State High School League.

Dave Stead, the longest-serving executive director of the Minnesota State High School League and a pioneer in national initiatives, has been selected for induction into the National High School Hall of Fame’s Class of 2023. He will be enshrined during the NFHS Summer Meeting Conference on Saturday, July 1 in Seattle.

Stead and former Edina band director Bill Webb were included in the 12-member Class of 2023 announced Thursday, March 16 by the National High School Hall of Fame.

Founded in the 1982, the National High School Hall of Fame was organized by the National Federation of State High School Associations to recognize and honor excellence by high school athletes, coaches, officials, and administrators. In 2003, individuals from the performing arts became eligible for induction into the prestigious hall. 

“I am honored to be selected for induction into the National High School Hall of Fame,” said Stead, who began his League service in 1986. “For 32 years, I worked to provide leadership and support for the member schools of the Minnesota State High School League and the hundreds of thousands of student athletes and fine arts participants. I absolutely loved my career. I was part of an incredible team, and I share this honor with the staff members and Board of Directors with whom I have served.”

Stead’s visionary leadership and tireless drive to create and support a multitude of initiatives on behalf of all students was felt in a powerful way, not only in Minnesota, but throughout the country. For more than three decades, he served as the Executive Director of the 107-year-old Minnesota State High School League and was a respected, impactful leader in many roles with the National Federation of State High School Associations. His leadership and organizational work in Minnesota, within Section 5 and nationally have become the model that many other state associations have adopted.

Stead was a leader among leaders and both set the bar and mentored numerous emerging state leaders.

"When considering the most impactful executive directors in the federation, Dave Stead was the gold standard in leadership as well as one of the most personable and caring mentors to serve," said Erich Martens, who succeeded Stead as the League's Executive Director. "Regardless of the states I visit, numerous leaders praise the work that he did, but more so, how he treated and supported them. He was truly an incredible leader and Minnesota is so fortunate to have benefitted from his leadership."

It was Stead’s pioneering efforts that created groundbreaking opportunities to engage additional students in co-curricular activities. The expansion of activities included the first-of-its-kind creation of Adapted Athletics, an interscholastic sport that provided an opportunity for students with disabilities to compete in a state tournament format. Minnesota was also the first state association to provide extra-curricular opportunities in Girls Hockey, Robotics and Clay Target. An expansion of activities also included Dance Team, Boys and Girls Lacrosse and the Visual Arts.

Minnesota became one of the first state associations to have near-equal participation statistics between boys and girls. Under Stead’s leadership and guidance, the League consistently ranked in the Top 10 when the NFHS produced its annual participation statistics.

Working with member schools in off-the-field initiatives was equally impactful not only in Minnesota but also across the country. Stead had a belief that it was a two-way street in the League’s relationship with its member schools. The creation of Area Meetings was an innovative way for League Staff to visit Minnesota’s eight administrative regions twice per year. These opportunities for dialogue, information-sharing and leadership growth maintained strong relationships that were focused on creating safe and healthy co-curricular experiences for students.

And many know that two national initiatives originated in Minnesota behind the guidance and advocacy of Stead. The “Anyone Can Save A Life” program encourages schools to develop an Emergency Action Plan and implemented the placement of an Automatic External Defibrillator in each school. That quickly became a national initiative as now AEDs are a staple in schools across the country. Continuing education for coaches was created with the “Why We Play” curriculum that focuses on transformative leadership training based on educational principles of sports through participation. Like other programs, Stead led the way with rule-change initiatives and dozens of trailblazing efforts that had their genesis in Minnesota, and soon, other state associations followed that lead.

Dave Stead HOF
Stead Football

Minnesotans inducted into the National High School Hall of Fame

  • 1986 --- John Mayasich
  • 1987 --- Janet Karvonen
  • 1989 --- Bronko Nagurski
  • 1992 --- Willard Ikola and Jerry Seeman
  • 1998 --- Paul Giel
  • 2000 --- Kevin McHale
  • 2003 --- Dorothy McIntyre
  • 2007 --- Terry Steinbach
  • 2008 --- Barbara Seng
  • 2009 --- Billy Bye
  • 2014 --- Bob McDonald
  • 2016 --- Eugene “Lefty” Wright
  • 2018 --- Carrie Tollefson
  • 2023 --- Dave Stead and Bill Webb


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Bill Webb, National High School Hall of Fame inductee, Class of 2023