Remembering Mr. Mike Sjoberg
Charles Steel '21
On January 5th 2021, the STA community suffered the loss of a dear friend, educator, and coach, Mr. Mike Sjoberg. His legacy and presence on campus will forever be missed by those he taught, worked beside, and coached throughout his tenure. A man who took great pride in the development of his students, Mike led by example as a servant leader and mentor to those he became close with. “To develop boys into men of character” is the mission of Saint Thomas Academy and its staff. As an educator, administrator, and coach, Mike not only believed in this philosophy, but lived it each day he came to work.
Growing up in Hoyt Lakes, Minnesota, Mike excelled at golf and basketball, two sports he would go on to coach at Saint Thomas Academy. His overall basketball coaching record is 395-149, with nine conference championship teams, six section championships, state third place once, state runner-up three times and twice state champions. As STA golf coach, his teams won 14 conference golf championships in a row. For his success and legacy on and off the basketball court, Mike was recently elected into the Minnesota Basketball Hall of Fame. “His brand and style of coaching improved STA every day,” said Martin Hamilton, class of 2005.
Mike’s success and greatness in coaching is widely remembered by former cadets, but whether it be in sports, teaching or working in the community, Mike abided by similar values in all aspects of his life, bringing students to be the best versions of themselves. Foley Schmidt ‘08 describes a “one-sized” approach that Mike took great care in avoiding. In his words, “Some students needed to be pushed, some needed mentorship, and others needed a loving person to talk to about common problems high schoolers are having at home.” No matter the case, students knew they could talk to Mike about whatever they were going through. He was a mentor who would always listen, and who would continue supporting them as time went on.
In 2004, Mike assumed the role of Dean of Students at Saint Thomas, and later became the assistant headmaster. In those years, his impact and presence touched the lives of hundreds of cadets. He was consistent and demanding in all aspects, but always took pride in daily interactions and the long term success of those he worked with. Each morning he would stand on the Founders Hall railing and greet the boys with a smile, going out of his way to start their day with positivity.
To be a servant leader means doing whatever it takes to ensure the well-being and success of those under your guidance. It means going above and beyond to lead through service and dedication at a level where most would not find it necessary. It is easy to forget the sacrifices Mike and his family made for the students at Saint Thomas, who were most in need of someone like him to lend a hand. Mike and his wife Denise routinely had Academy students live with them after they were displaced or kicked out of their home by their parents. It wasn’t a one-time thing, nor a two-time thing, but happened over and over again. In his mentoring and selfless dedication to students in need throughout his years at The Academy, Mike became a living embodiment of servant leadership to our community.
Foley Schmidt went on to say, “it is the people and relationships that define the Cadet experience. Mike defined the experience of every student he ever had.” For this among many reasons, Mike Sjoberg is forever a part of Saint Thomas Academy’s rich history of impactful relationships between faculty and students. As time goes on, we will always see his name above the doors of the Sjoberg/Flynn arena, but more importantly, his legacy, lessons and positive impacts on the lives of the students he touched will be what he is truly remembered for in coming years. This reminds us that though he is now in a better place with Christ, true legends and servant leaders never die.