—by Todd Thorson

Roland-Story has hired its new varsity football coach, and he comes in with previous experience with the program. Aaron Stensland will take over the Norsemen football team this fall, following in the footsteps of long-time Head Coach Kerry Van Winkle. Stensland has been at Roland-Story since 2008, and has been an assistant under Van Winkle as well. Last year Aaron was the offensive and defensive line coach, as well as the offensive coordinator. He also teaches language arts at the Roland-Story Middle School.

Stensland has had previous teaching and coaching experience at Nodaway Valley in Greenfield, leaving in 2006 for Urbandale High School. After a year as an assistant football coach at Urbandale, Aaron took a one year leave of absence from teaching and coaching, before arriving at Roland-Story.

Stensland is a native of Iowa Falls, excelling in four sports during high school, and is also a graduate of Wartburg College, where he lettered three years playing quarterback and wide receiver on the Knight football team. He resides in Story City with his wife Chelsie, a Hubbard native, and two sons, Tate, 3, and Damon, 1.

"I am very honored to take over such a storied program and for such an unbelievable coach and person as Kerry Van Winkle was," commented Stensland. "I cannot thank Kerry enough for all of the support and encouragement he gave me during the hiring process. I learned more from him in six years than I thought was possible. After I got word that I had been offered the job my first call was to my dad, and my second call was to Kerry; he means that much to me and my family."

Stensland was also familiar with the Roland-Story program at an early age, as both of his cousins, Bryce and Devin Fuhrman, played here. Aaron’s wife Chelsie had a cousin, Nick Handeland, who played here as well.

"As I played football in high school we played in Roland-Story’s district my junior and senior year, and to us they were the top notch program of 2A in central Iowa," stated Stensland. "So we set our goals around beating Roland-Story and building a tradition like they had. That is a testament to Kerry, his assistants, his players and the community."

Aaron knows he has his work cut out for him, as the Norsemen are coming off 1-8 and 2-7 seasons the last two years. He hopes to bring back the momentum in the program, and get the kids to believe they are the best team around. Aaron wants to get them excited about playing the game of football each and every Friday night, and believe they can compete with anyone on any given night.

"I look forward to bringing in my style of play here at Roland-Story," he continued. "I am a believer in building the best defense you can first. We want to be the most physical, hardest hitting team in 2A. We will do that by weight room dedication and an intense conditioning program. Offensively, there will definitely be some new wrinkles in what we do. I do throw the ball more than we have here in the past, and I will also mix in a running game that features, at times, three backs, two backs or one back. We will use lots of motions, shifts and confusion for the opposing defense. I’m also excited to work with the staff again, and as of now they are all coming back to coach (this fall). They are some of the greatest people I know, and besides that, they can really coach as well."

Stensland takes over from Kerry Van Winkle, who completed 40 seasons with Roland-Story and compiled 275 wins in 46 years of coaching. Aaron has also been a middle school coach while at Roland-Story, as well as high school weight room supervisor.