Monday, July 14, 2014

A Special Week ahead

I don't really expect a ton of people to read this, but I needed to let some thoughts out and share with those few who may be interested about an exciting moment happening this week in my family's life.

Wednesday, this week, my father will be inducted into the South Dakota High School Coaches Association Hall of Fame.  It's a very humbling time for him and he is excited, but has told others that I am probably more excited than he is.  That's a true statement!!

I thought I would spend a little blogging time, letting you know a little bit about my dad & all the really amazing things he has been through in his career.

My dad played all 4 years of high school sports(Football, basketball, track & baseball) in Milbank SD under the tutelage of the legendary Rollie Greeno.  Coach Greeno eventually became a Hall of Fame football & track coach at Jamestown College.  He was one of the most successful, respected & well known coaches in the entire Midwest.  I always thought it was pretty cool for my dad to be able to say he played for Coach Greeno.

Crossing path's of Hall of Famer's prior to his coaching career starting doesn't end there.  My father went to South Dakota State with hopes of making the Jackrabbit basketball team.  He was a 3 year starter in HS, but as he tried out for the freshman team he failed to make it.  Freshman were not eligible for varsity in those college days.

The freshman coach at that time was Jim Marking, who eventually became the head man with the Jackrabbits a few years after my father graduated.  Coach Marking happened to also be my dad's college advisor.  Despite starting out with an engineering major, my dad needed to be close to the game he soon found out and switched to education & coaching.

My dad went to work for Coach Marking as a student assistant for his remaining 3 years at State keeping stats and learning the ropes in any shape of form he could from the man who left SDSU as the winningest basketball coach of all time.  Coach Marking was especially kind to my father and really taught him what he finally ended up knowing about the game.

After graduating college, Coach Marking was instrumental in helping guide to the next level.  Despite missing out on a possibility to coach football at a school he really wanted to coach hoops at fell through.  My dad went to Cottonwood MN for a season in 63-64.  He inherited a team with one returning letter winner a 5'5" kid and had an inaugural year of 3-14.  While that wasn't a great start to his career, it was where he met my mother and so if that step never happened, you wouldn't be reading this blog.

After that season in Minnesota, my father went back to South Dakota and admittedly by him that pretty much was solely due to the influence of Coach Marking landed a job at Hayti SD.  Coach Marking had coached in Hayti in the the mid 50's ending with a 117-13 record along with a State title & 2 runner ups & obviously left a legacy behind that his word was gold.

Five years in Hayti as the "only" coach, my dad coached football, basketball, & track at all levels, there were no other sports during this time at this school.  He was even the elementary coach & drove the bus sometimes.  There were no assistants to help out.

One thing , that I am especially proud about is the fact that my dad is one of the 6 pioneers who helped bring 9 man football to South Dakota.  A group of coaches in one conference decided to play 9 man football to be more similar to the 11 man game rather than 8 in 1967.  They were the only league that played 9 man that season & Hayti had two 9-man players make the 8 man all-state team.  Dad's lifetime football coaching record at Hayti was 49-6-2.  That was the end of the varsity football coaching career, but Rollie Greeno's leadership in football was the basis of what my dad used.

In the 71-72 school year, our family moved to Britton SD where in his first season, inherited a stellar group of seniors.  This group went on the win the State B title in his first year.  We returned to state the following two years taking 4th in 73' & 3rd in 74".  We had some very good teams between then and 1985 where we last made the Big B's as they were once called.  1985 was my dad's final season as head coach of the Braves, this was one year past my graduating season.  During those Britton years there were a few opportunities to look elsewhere, but our roots were planted, Britton was home.

I never panned out to be the player I had hoped to be for my father & that's not really a big deal to either of us.  I do know, I most certainly loved going to almost every game and practice from age 6 til I was on the team myself.  I'm a really proud son I guess and I would expect nothing else to be different than anyone else's thoughts on their own father.  Just had a nice opportunity to brag about mine for once due to this honor.

The most amazing parts of this whole story is who in your youth or in your college career your paths cross with in the coaching ranks and how they mold you.  My dad was seriously molded and to this day he is forever thankful to those lifelong connections he had with coaches Greeno & Marking.  Though they are no longer on this earth, I know my dad sure wishes they were with him this week to see where he was fortunate to end up due to their leadership.

Lastly, I am working on a "gift" for my father by reaching out to as many of his former players that I am able to asking if they would like to send him well wishes.  I'm finding as I put this together that these players are mentioning very similar things to what my father said about his mentors.  It's just very cool for me to think about it all.   Thanks for reading if you did, I really look forward to spending time with my family this week reliving the events that took us to where we are today.

Love you JB & thanks for making me what I am today & especially for being a big part of why I truly love basketball.

Steve