A Tribute To Rev. Dr. "Coach" Dean Viselmeyer

Longtime Orange Lutheran football coach, the Rev. Dr. “Coach” Dean Vieselmeyer, entered his eternal rest on Friday, October 13, 2023.


As part of the Orange Lutheran football program for more than 30 years, Dean impacted countless student athletes through his passion for football and his love for Christ. He served under five Lancer head coaches during his tenure, including Tim Taube, Jim Kunau, Chuck Petersen, JP Presley and current OLu football head coach Rod Sherman.


In his early years on campus, Dean served as Defensive Coordinator for the Lancers, later handing those duties off to his son and OLu alum, Brent Vieselmeyer ‘94, in 2000. He coached several positions at both the freshman and varsity levels, including defensive line, defensive ends, inside linebackers, outside linebackers and long snappers.


Dean recently returned to Orange Lutheran after a few years absence, and his most recent roles were as a freshman coaching assistant and the leader of the spiritual formation program.


During his time in the OLu football program, Dean saw the Lancers achieve historic success, and he holds the honor of being one of a select few number of coaches who were part of all three CIF Championships that Orange Lutheran has won – in 2004, 2006 and 2021 – as well as the program’s State Championship in 2006.


Jim Kunau, who served as the Lancer football head coach from 1993 – 2011, had this to say about Coach Vies:


“Coach Dean Vieselmeyer was the heart of Lancer football for the past 30 years,” Kunau said. “Now his spirit continues on in this football program which, in true Coach Vies fashion, is dedicated to growing young men in their faith, while instilling in them strong and resolute Christian character.


“Dean was the inspiring force that propelled the program’s rise from a small Division 12 team to a nationally ranked program competing in the toughest football league in America. His faith in Jesus was a beacon for all, and his passion for excellence, intense competitive drive and genuine deep care and concern for players’ and coaches’ welfare made Coach Vies the most beloved leader and mentor in Lancer football history.


“Many coaches try to leave their mark on players. Coach Vies left his love within every player, family and coach. The magnitude and magnificence of Dean’s legacy will live on for generations. With his mission and servant leadership complete, he cheers us on now from the grandeur of his heavenly home prepared for him by the One he always served so faithfully as a humble disciple of Christ.


“We honor this great man of God, and we offer our gratitude and blessings to his wife, Dian, sons Brent and Brad, and their families, for sharing Dean so generously with us and Lancer football for these many years.”


Ken Ellwein, former Executive Director at Orange Lutheran from 1989 – 2008 reflected on Dean’s integrity.


“Dean was always about ministering to the welfare of the student athlete and upholding the highest level of integrity in the football program,” Ellwein said. “If confrontation was necessary, he would put his arm around you and quietly say what needed to be said. If you were hungry and needed a burger, he would buy you two, and maybe even three. He was truly a man of God who impacted the lives of so many and helped shape the ministry and culture of OLu.”


Orange Lutheran Director of College Counseling, Steve Barillier, was not only a player under Dean but also had the pleasure of coaching alongside him.


“Coach Vies leaves a truly incredible legacy of impacting young men for Christ,” Barillier said. “No one was more instrumental in the development of the OLu football program, with its focus on building up men of faith and character, and sending servant leaders out into the world. Although he was deeply passionate about the game of football, and the skills and techniques required to achieve success on the field, his true legacy continues to play out in the lives of the thousands of players, coaches and community members that were blessed to know him and learn from him. Greater still is the fact that his legacy will continue to impact future generations for Christ, as we collectively do our best to pass down to others the wisdom, lessons and unwavering faith that Coach instilled in us.


“My relationship with Coach Vies spanned more than 20 years and evolved from player, to mentee, to coaching colleague, to friend. And throughout those years, I was continually amazed at his capacity to serve and his ability to give more. He has left an indelible mark on me and was essential to my faith formation, character development and the husband and father I strive to be each day.”


Former OLu football head coach Chuck Petersen coached alongside Dean from 2012 – 2016.


“Billy Graham has said, ‘A coach will impact more people in one year than the average person will do in an entire lifetime,’” Petersen said. “He surely was talking about Coach Vies when he said that. I had the blessed opportunity to work with him for five years at OLu. He was a tremendous coach but was much more than that. He was a spiritual mentor to our coaches and players. Every day, Coach Vies gave us a living picture of what it was to be a husband, father, friend, coach and man of God. May God bless Dian and her family during this difficult time. May their faith sustain them until they all meet again.”


Orange Lutheran defensive backs coach Dee Meza was also a player under Dean, as well as a coaching colleague.


“Dean has impacted any and all whom have come in contact with him,” Meza said. “Shortly after his passing, I came to the realization that a majority of my daily and weekly habits were modeled after Dean. The work ethic, enthusiasm and love he showed were a unique mix of qualities that set him apart. He inspired many of us to be better humans.”


Former OLu football head coach JP Presley ’92 played for Dean and had him on his coaching staff from 2017 – 2021.


“In life some call it luck, I call it blessed,” Presley said. “Consider yourself blessed if your life intersected with a man named Dean. A one-of-a-kind husband, amazing father, dear friend, loyal mentor and coach, his steps were faithful, his motives were selfless, and his heart was committed to developing and loving people the way God intended us to.”


In addition to his years of service at Orange Lutheran, Dean and his wife Dian both contributed significantly at Concordia University Irvine, filling many integral roles for nearly 35 years beginning with their arrival at then Christ College in 1985. Along with serving as Executive Vice President of the university in the early 2000’s, Dean was also a professor of theology and oversaw aspects of residential life, athletics, arts, campus ministry, advising, health services, student government and freshman orientation.


Dean will always be remembered for his endless energy and innate ability to positively impact the lives of players, coaches, parents and the OLu community. 


To honor his legacy and commitment, Dean's family lovingly requests that donations be made to the Orange Lutheran football program in his memory. Dean cared tremendously about a commitment to excellence in football, while also creating positive relational experiences for all of the student athletes involved in the program.


In honor of Dean, donated funds will support and enhance pillars of the OLu football program, such as team retreats and other team-building activities, in addition to the creation of a memorial wall in the football locker room honoring the legacy of Coach Vies and other Lancers who have been called to their eternal rest.


There are two sayings that Coach Vies led for the majority of his years coaching which will be represented on the memorial wall:


“Lancer Born, Lancer Bred, I’ll be a Lancer till the day I’m dead!”

 “When a task is once begun, leave it not until it’s done. Be a matter great or small, do it well, or not at all.”


Orange Lutheran CEO, Dr. Mary Scott, reflected on Dean’s life as one that was not only well lived, but one that left an indelible mark on the Lancer family:


“Coach Vies, or Dean as many of us knew him, was a man who loved the Lord, his family, football and every person he met,” Scott said. “While his earthly loss leaves a hole in our hearts, his legacy lives on in the lives of thousands of people who knew him, loved him and look forward to seeing his smile and hearing his laugh again in heaven. Well done, good and faithful servant.”

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