By Tyler Leeds
After nine years at Bend High School, Principal H.D. Weddel is leaving to work for the Oregon State University football team in Corvallis at the end of the academic year.
Weddel became principal in 2009, after serving as an assistant principal since 2005. During the 1990s, he also worked at the school as a teacher and coach. But while working in Bend, Weddel has also been making regular trips to his alma mater in Corvallis for the past eight years to serve as the OSU football team’s volunteer chaplain.
With the help of outside funding, Weddel will take on that position full time.
During his time as a volunteer, Weddel has focused on developing the character of players, as well as officiating at marriages, baptisms and also a funeral for an athlete who died.
“Telling my staff was the hardest thing I’ve ever done,” Weddel said Thursday. “We’re very close, we are a family. What I said was, ‘I’m leaving the best job I’ve ever had to do the job I’ve always loved.’ I think that sums it up.”
Weddel’s move has been in the works since the summer, when OSU football coach Mike Riley approached him about making the transition. Weddel’s OSU roots go deep — he met his wife in Corvallis while a student and also wrestled for the school. Although he said he’s happy to return to “Beaverland,” he also emphasized his deep feelings for Bend High.
“I love Bend High, I love the people, I love the community, I love the staff,” Weddel said. “There’s not much I don’t embrace. I love the whole feel of the place, and I’ve been so humbled and blessed to be a part of the community. I loved having my own children go there and graduate.”
In his new role, Weddel said he will continue to work on developing the whole person, not just the athlete or student.
“One of the attractions of OSU is that kids are going to come out on the other side with a better character,” Weddel said. “That’s really important, especially in today’s society, where we don’t always see that. Coach Riley said that’s something important to him, and I get to help build it.”
Weddel was widely acclaimed during his time in Bend, earning the district’s administrator of the year award in 2013 and being named the 2010 Oregon Association for Career and Technical Education Administrator of the Year. He also finalized the school’s adoption of the International Baccalaureate Program, a rigorous pre-college program for juniors and seniors. Nonetheless, athletics is a world Weddel is familiar with. After helping to win three PAC-10 wrestling championships at OSU, Weddel was inducted into the state’s wrestling hall of fame.
Jay Mathisen, assistant superintendent for human resources and facilities planning, became an administrator in the district the same year as Weddel.
“I went home after meeting all the new hires and told my wife, ‘I met this guy (H.D.) and I’m going to love working with him,’” Mathisen said. “When I was a new principal and I had something new to deal with, he was who I would call first.”
Mathisen said Weddel “defines the role of high school principal.”
“He is such an exceptional leader,” Mathisen added. “He builds trust, builds relationships, and you just know that as long as he’s on your team, you’re going to win.”
— Reporter: 541-633-2160, firstname.lastname@example.org