Ben Irlbeck and family

New Elk Point City Council member Ben Irlbeck, back with from left, daughter, Kaia, wife, Marcee, and son, Keaton.

As head golf coach at Briar Cliff University, Ben Irlbeck has learned how to meld disparate players into a cohesive team.

It’s a skill that should come in handy as the newest member of the Elk Point City Council.

Irlbeck grew up in Wabasha, MN, a town of around 2,500. He got both his bachelors and master’s degrees at Dakota Wesleyan University. Irlbeck worked a bit in journalism at college and he feels that taught him how to talk to people and get to know them. He taught two years at Harrisburg and three years at Marion.

“It’s a little taste of small school, a little taste of big school,” Irlbeck said.

He’s been golf coach at Briar Cliff since 2013, when he and his wife, Marcee, moved to Elk Point. She teaches at Elk Point-Jefferson. Their daughter, Kaia, will be in 4th grade this fall; son, Keaton, in 2nd grade. Marcee grew up in Lake Park, IA, population around 2,000, so both Irlbecks appreciate small-town living in Elk Point.

“Marcee says she never wants to leave,” Irlbeck laughed.

That dedication to Elk Point led Irlbeck to the city council when he heard a seat was open. Originally he thought about running for school board, more a fit with his background in education, but he realized he’s really interested in learning how the municipality works.

He also knows City Administrator Derek Tuttle, who was a student of his at Harrisburg. Tuttle’s helping him with background.

Irlbeck was sworn in as Ward I council member at the council’s May 3 meeting. He spent that first meeting listening and taking notes. He said business expansion and a shortage of homes are a few of the city’s challenges.

As a golf coach, Irlbeck said he spends a lot of time with people at The Pointe Golf & Event Center. That has also helped him understand some of the city’s dynamics.

Irlbeck said he’s used to working with different personalities and work ethics.