For almost 50 years, Mike Hilsendeger has driven a school bus for the Bismarck Public School system and he’s driven several state champions through his career.
“In 1969, the first man walked on the moon. The same year, Mike Hilsendeger started driving buses part-time for the Bismarck Public School System.
“Some of the kids I was driving are coaches now,” Hilsendeger said.
In 1971, Mike began driving full-time and he made a promise he would not retire until Bismarck won a hockey state championship, but then Century opened in 1976.
“I told [Dick] Karlgaard, ‘Don’t split the team,'” Hilsendeger said. “Bismarck was untouched. Nobody could beat them. They spilt team.”
Forty-three years later, Mike got his wish. And he delivered a powerful speech to the Demons before they got off the bus.
“‘Can you guys do an old guy a favor?’, Hilsendeger said. “I’m going to be 77-years old. Can you win me – I shouldn’t say that. Can you win me a state championship so I can retire?”
One of Mike’s favorite teams to drive is the Bismarck Demonettes.
“Every year it was the Demonettes,” Hilsendeger said, “they took a championship.”
But 1990 was special.
“They gave me a cap and said, ‘Don’t put it on until you know that we are going to win,” Hilsendeger said. “I put it on.”
The Demonettes were victorious and Mike got another surprise: His own jacket.
“They said, “No other guy will get a jacket like that,'” Hilsenderger said.
Because after 47 years of full-time service, there will never be another Mike Hilsendeger.
Those were just two of the many stories Mike shared. Mike is 80 years old and still drives part-time. He says driving gets him out of the house and keeps him young.