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Pat Held ’69 receives Compass Award

Head of School Jon McGee is proud to recognize Pat Held “69 as the 2022 recipient of the Compass Award. The Compass Award is given in recognition of an individual(s), business partner, or charitable foundation for their leadership, engagement, and support, which has provided direction and guidance for Saint John’s Prep.

Below are the remarks given during the award ceremony at the Head of School Appreciation Dinner on October 9.

Pat Held For Web

At a towering four feet eleven inches tall and weighing 86 pounds, the formidable Patrick Held entered Saint John’s Prep in the fall of 1965 as a pre-seminary student, a bit nervous as you might imagine.  Growing up in St. Augusta, the oldest of four boys, Pat got to know Fr. Schwieters who would travel to his parish school, Saint Mary’s Hope of Christians to play ball with the kids during recess.   As Pat got to know Fr. Schwieters and shared that he was considering the priesthood, Fr. Schwieters told him he had to go to the Prep School.   

Arriving at Prep was invigorating for Pat.  He had been a good student in elementary school, so to be surrounded by others who longed to learn was stimulating.  Finding others who shared similar values and aspirations resulted in strong friendships, which remain in place to this day. Pat learned to appreciate people from different backgrounds and had his eyes opened to a much larger world than he had experienced in Saint Augusta.   

Pat would tell you that the Prep School was formative in guiding his life’s practices and beliefs.  When interviewed, Pat said, “The monks of Saint John’s taught me how to live. Their commitment to diversity, inclusion, ecumenism, social justice and responsibility, servant leadership, and so much more provided a roadmap to living a good and holy life. The monks by living out of the Benedictine values not only put their Catholic faith into action but showed all of us how to do so as well.” If you know Pat well, you will know this next statement is factual.  A friend of Pat’s, Saint John’s University graduate, performer, composer, and producer, and guest of Pat’s this evening, George Maurer once said to Pat, “The only person who is more Benedictine than you are the Benedictines.”  That’s high and well-deserved praise!  While Pat performed well in the classroom, he clearly learned more than any book could have taught him. 

After graduating from Saint John’s University with degrees in History and Social Studies education and a minor in coaching, Pat set off to make a difference in the lives of young people.  Like many teachers fresh out of college, Pat looked long and hard to secure his first job.  In fact, it wasn’t until about two weeks before the start of the school year that he was hired to be a junior high social studies teacher and head high school basketball coach in Motley, Minnesota.  To be honest, Pat wanted nothing to do with coaching basketball, but they were desperate and so was he, so he took the job!  When you get a minute, ask him how those first three years went.  Let’s just say that after he earned tenure, he no longer chose to coach basketball. 

To further his own education, Pat earned his master’s degree in Education and School Climate from Hamline University, which he put to use for nearly 35 years in the classroom and on the baseball diamond (his choice), retiring in 2007 from what had become Staples-Motley High School.   

Pat certainly influenced students in the classroom, but it was likely his time on the field where Pat was most influential.  Since 1978, Pat has found himself coaching baseball at the high school or college level.  He currently serves as “Volunteer Assistant Coach” for our Prep baseball team, making the more than hour drive each afternoon from Motley to mentor our young men.  When asked why he loves to coach he kept it simple, “Every day you have an opportunity to plant a seed not knowing if you will ever see it grow, but someone will.  People often ask me how the season is going and I tell them, “Ask me in twenty years. When I see what kind of husbands, fathers, and community members they’ve become, then I’ll know what kind of season we had.”

Pat would admit that this was something he learned over time, stating, “It’s not about me, it’s about the players.  I am here to serve their needs. I didn’t become a successful teacher and coach until I stopped teaching history and coaching baseball, but instead started teaching people and started coaching people.  When it’s all done, it’s the relationships that matter.”

It is with great pleasure that Saint John’s Prep presents Pat Held ’69 with this year’s Compass Award, an award presented to those whose leadership, engagement, and support have provided direction and guidance for Saint John’s Prep. 

When asked why has chosen to give back to Prep, Pat humbly shared, “I’m a Johnnie through and through.  What I learned at Saint John’s shaped me into the person I am today.  I believe I have a responsibility to be there for the people and institutions that were there for me.  It isn’t about giving back, it’s a recognition of what the people and institution you’re a part of did for you.  I would never be the person I am without the years I spent here.”