Saturday, October 31, 2009

I Love Basketball!

If you know me very well, you know I am a big sports fan. I especially love basketball. In fact, a few years after my accident, a Division II coach told my dad he had a scholarship waiting for me. I had been at his camp for a week the summer between my eighth and ninth grade years. And, as they say now, "He liked my game." Basketball would have given me a free college education.

I follow Tubby Smith and the Golden Gophers religiously, and have had season tickets for more than three decades. A cold Saturday afternoon in February in Williams Arena, or as it's affectionately known around here as The Barn, gets really hot when it starts rockin' during a close Big Ten game. My courtside seats don't hurt either! It's great fun and those nineteen games every year get me through these Minnesota winters! It ranks right up there just a couple of steps behind my passion for speaking.

In fact, my tickets came last week and the Gophers first game is Thursday night. Bring on another season of college basketball!

In 1986, one of my all-time favorite movies came out. Hoosiers was a great basketball story about tiny Hickory, Indiana winning the state high school basketball championship in classic David versus Goliath fashion.

Dennis Hopper was nominated for Best Actor in a Supporting Role for his portrayal of "Shooter." If you have seen the movie, you know what I'm talking about. If you have not seen it, and like sports movies with a great story line, and many life lessons, you should go rent it. You will not be disappointed.

CNN is reporting that Dennis Hopper has prostate cancer. You can read the article by clicking here. He has made a lot of great movies like, Easy Rider, Apolcalype Now and Speed, to name just three. He often plays the bad guy, but my favorite Dennis Hopper movie will always be Hoosiers. I hope he has a speedy recovery, and can return to his passion once again.

I believe the reason I have such an affinity for this movie is because my dad coached in Minnesota's own version of Hickory: Edgerton, from 1963-1966. Edgerton had won the Minnesota State Championship in 1960 by beating Chisholm, Richfield and Austin in The Barn. All three of those schools had more students in their high schools than Edgerton had people.

Edgerton's population was about 1,000, and there were only 96 students in the high school! And, the community was very passionate about their high school basketball team! I was only in the third through fifth grades when we lived there, but being the basketball coach's son had it's perks! I definitely got the basketball fever of this tiny, tightly-knit, farming community in Southwest Minnesota.

When I am speaking and mention we lived in Edgerton, I will often have an older adult come up afterward and want to talk about their memories of that magical year. Many times, these longtime, avid fans can still name the starting five players!

Last year, the book Edgerton - A Basketball Legend was released and they devoted a chapter to the years following the Championship in which they talk about my dad and his tenure coaching the Flying Dutchmen. By the way, Edgerton has a very Dutch influence! You can visit the book's website by clicking here.

They are going to honor the team this year at the Minnesota State High School Basketball Tournaments as it is the 50th Anniversary of their championship. I'm looking forward to that!

As always, I welcome your comments.




Anonymous said...

That was indeed a great basketball year especially for those of us who grew up in small towns. Considering that they played the big schools back then it was quite an acheivement. I also remember Melrose's BB teams in the early 70s.

I just ordered the book. Thanks for sharing FatCat.


tom brakke said...

I got the book for Christmas last year and haven't read it yet. I like the thought of doing it in the fiftieth anniversary year.

There will be lots of anniversaries coming up for teams from our stomping grounds, with Marshall in three years, the big one (Luverne, of course) in four, and Sherburn and St. James on the horizon too.

It was a special time in a wonderful place. Thanks for taking me back, Mike (and for not mentioning that infamous pounding you gave me on our driveway court).

I'm Not Done Yet said...

I didn't need to mention it, you just did. I had forgotten all about that drubbing. And if you believe that ... :-)

Gary Grieme said...

Hey Mike,

I didn't know you were a Flying Dutchman! My dad still talks about being there to watch them win it all. I think it's his favorite sports moment ever (and that's saying a lot!).

Also, not a surprise that you schooled Mr. Brakke. I'll bet he resorted to Rodman-like tactics to try to throw you off your game.