Athletics: 2 Brainerd icons become UND Legends

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Chet Stevenson coaches on the Brainerd sideline during the 2019 season. Kelly Humphrey / Brainerd Dispatch

Two Brainerd icons are being honored as legends at the University of North Dakota.

Glen Gustafson, who practiced law in the Brainerd lakes area for the last 50 years, and Chet Stevenson, who recently retired after 44 years of coaching football at Brainerd, both were selected as 2020 UND Football Legends award recipients. The Legends award recognizes former players who excelled in their community.

Gustafson played and lettered in football at UND from 1964-66 and earned a business degree and law degree.

“I was honored, obviously,” Gustafson said of when he found out the news. “It’s a very nice thing they did.”

Gustafson played defensive back for UND and what he remembers most was how good of a defense they had when he played there.


“We had a very successful four years when I was there,” Gustafson said. “We made it to three bowl games and the quality of our team is something that sticks out greatly.”

Since moving to Brainerd in 1971, Gustafson has been instrumental in the community for youth sports. He’s a founding member of both the Brainerd Sports Boosters and Brainerd Youth Athletics Association.

“That means a lot to me,” Gustafson said. “I owe a lot to athletics, and I had a feeling that I would like to give back to athletics because it had a lot to do with me being successful in life.”

Gustafson was named Brainerd’s Distinguished Service Citizen of the Year in 2019. He volunteers and serves on the board of Lakes Area Food Shelf. He’s also the treasurer of the local soup kitchen.

Gustafson is originally from Alexandria. He came to Brainerd after he graduated from law school when he and a friend were looking for a new place to start their law practice.

“We looked at a map and said, ‘Where should we go?’” Gustafson said. “We just kind of picked Brainerd out of a hat and everything just seemed to fall together.

“Brainerd is a great, great community. It’s located in God’s country, it’s a phenomenal place. I’ve enjoyed living in this community and practicing law here for almost 50 years. It’s a great place to live.”

Stevenson played for Ron Stolski at Princeton High School before going on to play football for North Dakota in 1971. To be awarded as a legend is an honor to him, he said.


“Some of the guys that have went in I played with,” Stevenson said. “They are fantastic players and even better they are fantastic people. It’s quite an honor.”

Stevenson played offensive line and was named team captain and most valuable offensive lineman his senior season at UND.

After graduating in 1975 at North Dakota he joined Stolski at Brainerd and coached under him for 44 years.

“Playing for coach Stolski changed my life,” Stevenson said. “It opened the doors to an education at University at North Dakota.”

Stevenson remembers Stolski coming to watch him play his college games.

During the three years playing at North Dakota, Stevenson had the opportunity to play for a National Championship in 1972 when UND defeated Cal Poly 38-21 in the Camellia Bowl. After the win, they finished the season ranked No. 2 in the Associated Press poll.

One of the highlights for Stevenson was his senior season playing the University of Minnesota Golden Gophers. He went out for the coin toss with the captains and got to shake hands with Minnesota captains Tony Dungy, who went on to be a Super Bowl-winning head coach in the NFL, and Rick Upchurch, who played nine seasons in the NFL.

“We played at the old Memorial Stadium,” Stevenson said of playing the Gophers. “That was a highlight to play there. We were ahead 10-0 in the first quarter, but then they beat us by 10.”


Stevenson has earned awards such as the UND Tom Clifford Award, Butch Nash Assistant Coach of the Year Award and Bud Schmit Award.

Last June, Stevenson was named the National Assistant Boys Coach of the Year by the National High School Coaches Association.

“It’s been a good ride,” Stevenson said. “I can remember having a close friend in high school who wrote in my yearbook, ‘Good luck in your teaching and coaching career for years to come.’ And she knew that was my destiny.”

CONRAD ENGSTROM may be reached at 218-855-5861 or Follow on Twitter at

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Brainerd lakes area lawyer Glen Gustafson has been selected along with Chet Stevenson as 2020 UND Football Legends award recipients. Steve Kohls / Brainerd Dispatch

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