An Outsider’s View On The Advantages Of Small Town Sports

After 25 games this season, our son and the Mustangs team ended their season this past week. It was hard to swallow.

Any fulfilling and exciting life chapter is difficult to close. High school basketball is one of those chapters. Every year, some seniors graduate. Every year, I realize we are one year closer to our son, Hunter being done with this chapter.

As soon as the game ended, I had to drive to Fargo to board an early flight for a 24-hour business trip that I had delayed all week to be a mom in the stands with my family at the regional basketball games.

I was still thinking about basketball on a flight early the next morning and decided to download pictures on my camera from the tournament onto my computer.

The man sitting next to me could see my photos and was looking up from his MotoCross magazines. He was in his late 40’s I would assume and started asking about the photos. He then started to share his own story.

He has a 18-year-old senior in high school son who wanted nothing more in high school than to be a basketball player. But they live in a major city. He said, “We need a B and C high school, just for the kids not big enough, not fast enough, not prestigious enough to play at the A level high school.”

I understood his words. He pointed at his magazine, “That’s why we got into this. Basketball crushed him, not being able to play in high school. So I found MotoCross and now we do it together and race. I flew home last night just to practice with him for four hours for  a race this weekend and have to fly back again tonight.” What a lucky son, I thought, to have a dad dedicated to making his son’s life active and fulfilled, despite not achieving his initial high school dream of playing basketball.

I explained to the passenger that I attended an “A” high school, where kids were cut from teams. You had to choose your focus. But my siblings and husband all went to a “B” high school. It was important to my husband and I that our kids have that small school, inclusive experience, where kids get to be in a variety of activities. As I looked through the pictures I said, “Yes,  we are indeed a “B” high school. Class B in North Dakota to be exact, for small schools.”

Our school is made up of kids from our small town. 1000 people. Our sports teams combine with our neighboring small town to create our teams. As the pictures kept downloading, hundreds of them, the passenger asked questions as he saw them.

SeniorsI explained about our seniors, boys that have played together for years, since elementary school and with our son since he was an eighth-grader. I explained that everyone gets to play. No one is cut. If you want to play basketball, there is a team for you.

The passenger explained the eliteness of basketball and sports in their public, major city high school, almost like a college prep school for sports. I laughed and said I thought our version of high school sports teaches more life lessons that our players will apply to everyday life for decades to come. I talked about the camaraderie. The team built around the kids that play the sport, regardless of socio-economic circumstances.

The passenger said, “Our coaches are all figured out by professionals because there are a few boys in our school system that have older brothers playing professional basketball. So they’ve brought in big-time coaches. And they bring in big-time players with them.”

His words had a sting of sadness to them. My heart hurt a little for him, as a fellow sports parent. Because even though he was dedicated and now doing MotoCross racing with his son, all he really wanted I could tell was what was being downloaded on my computer, the authentic atmosphere of small-town sports.

I continued to give him an inside look through my photos on my computer screen.

RobbieI talked about my brother the coach, the one and only fourth-grade teacher in one of our towns, his small town high school background, his experience both athletically and musically, his coaching mentors and love for the game of basketball. I talked about the assistant coaches, another teacher in the neighboring town of our sports cooperative and a longtime, experienced coach, who exudes passion and excitement. I talked about the new assistant this year that moved back to farm with his family but that he had been coaching for a few years under one of the best Class A coaches in North Dakota. I talked about all of their ethics and discipline.

I looked up at the passenger and said, “I guess they are professionals at helping boys become men.” He nodded and smiled. I knew that’s what he had wanted for his son in team sports.


As we continued to look at pictures, the passenger talked more. He wanted the class of 19 kids like our son has. Or the class of 22 like our daughter has for his kids. The classes that get out of school early to drive 90 miles one-way to be at the afternoon opening round of the regional tournament. These are kids that yell, scream and cheer with an undying spirit. These are kids that let the kindergartener, our daughter, Miss E stand with them and hold up signs of support for our team because kids in small schools know each other from kindergarten through high school.

Kretch_3I showed the passenger what the kids were yelling about this past Monday afternoon. At 3 p.m. in the first round of the regional tournament, we played the number one seed, the defending region champion. This was the team that we lost to the regional championship last year. The team that Hunter’s past teammates, graduated seniors now in college, had lost to in every regional tournament of their high school career. The team that our sports cooperative, South Border had never beat.

But after trailing by 19 points in the third quarter, #24, a senior made consecutive three-pointers to cut the lead.

Loboes_MustangsAnd a group of small-town boys, who had struggled through the district tournament the week before, never quit working. They never quit fighting, knowing a loss would end their season. They never quit believing that they could beat the big number one team they faced.

The passenger said, “Well, what happened? He was sitting up straight now, leaning towards my computer to see more pictures. I told him how my coaching brother always says, “We are preparing to win in the post-season” and how he never gets too rattled about a close loss during the regular season. Somehow, I knew that the coaches had a plan to pull off this win and the boys all believed in executing the plan. It was apparent in the fourth quarter.
DefenseWe played tough defense and stopped the team from scoring. We cut the lead to just one point, 52-53 with three minutes left in the game.

Mustang_fansAnd the crowd never stopped cheering.

Regional_Big_WinWhen our son made a basket to bring our lead to 61-54. I started to cry I told the passenger. I knew then we might do it. We might pull off the upset. Then I looked over at my brother, standing by the bench. Then, I knew we were going to pull off the upset. He and the other coaches had prepared the boys to win.

And we did. The Mustangs won, 63-58 over the Loboes. The Loboes, the team expected to win the regional tournament and go to the state tournament, looked stunned.

The passenger’s face lit up with elation. I told him it was a moment, a game and now a memory that our son Hunter said, “I will tell my kids about this, probably my grandkids.”

Grandpa_hugI showed him the picture of my dad, who has shared his glory days of basketball with us through stories for decades. My dad, who Hunter has emulated as best he can in his whole life of sixteen years.

The passenger said, “Are you going to State now?”

My heart hurt just a little again. No, we aren’t. We didn’t win the next game, losing by missing free throws. Some nights it is your game and some nights it is not.

After being a highly successful free throw shooting team, the ball didn’t swish through the net the next game. We turned over the ball too often. We didn’t win.

Suddenly, I felt a little disappointment, telling the passenger that it was the end of our season, just the night before I boarded the flight.

TeamThe passenger looked up from staring at my computer screen filled with pictures of Class B North Dakota high school basketball said, “But it doesn’t really matter, does it?”

I swallowed hard. I wasn’t going to cry on an airplane to a stranger sitting next to me, looking at my pictures. I smiled and kept staring at our team picture but I am sure he saw my eyes had a little extra moisture in them. He had just reminded me of an important lesson.

I had what he didn’t have, what he had wanted for his son. He saw the advantages in small-town sports. We get to live out the advantages, even if we aren’t going to the big dance of the state tournament.

He said, “It’s so good for me to hear, you know that kids still get that experience. That small town sports experience. That any kids can still play if they want to put in the time and work and be a part of a team.” The passenger paused and then continued.”My wife’s parents were from North Dakota…Devils Lake? Do you know where that is? I’ve never been there.”

I smiled and nodded. I’m a North Dakota girl. Of course, I know Devils Lake.

The passenger opened his MotoCross magazine, looked down at it again, “Maybe we should have raised our kids in Devils Lake.”

I looked back at my album now on my computer of over 700 pictures from our high school basketball season. Maybe.

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68 Responses

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  6. I’m sharing your story. I am the mom of the senior. Our girls played with 7 girls on the team and made it to district finals. I couldn’t be prouder of our small town athletic program, the FCCLA, the FFA and the FCA.

  7. I can relate to this on so many levels! Loved your story and congrats on defeating your rivals!

    I graduated in a class of 9 people, all of whom I started kindergarten with. We had very small teams and I remember one year, we started our basketball season with 4.5 players. We had one girl with an injured ankle that stood on the floor so we didn’t have to forfeit our games! Dedication is easily one thing I learned from small town sports!

    My sister was also involved in sports and played with her friends and cousins starting in third grade. In small towns, your coaches are often family, friends and teachers… influencers without “BIG” resumes of collegiate and professional players. I watched my sister and her teammates set school records and create so many memorable moments for our ENTIRE TOWN! They went to state and took home the trophy for the first time in school history… for the first time in COUNTY history! Even though small, they were mighty and now two of the players are playing at the college level. My sister now sets records for Mizzou and the SEC!!!

    Small towns schools build character, memories and sometimes DI college athletes 😉 Wouldn’t trade our experiences for anything!!! Great post! 🙂

  8. Loved your post! I grew up in a small town and loved that my brother, sister and I were able to be active in all sports and activities. We had to or there weren’t enough people!

  9. Tiffany

    Very Good post!!!! I to have grown up in a small town. Our school consisted of 7-8 different towns in one small district. My baby brothers basketball team just lost tonight in their sub state tournament. We never gave up. The crowd never stopped cheering. I am proud to have come from such an amazing district and school. Our 5 starters were all seniors whom played their last high School game. My heart breaks seeing them cry. But the community came together and pulled them back up. We went 16-4 for the season. None of us could ever be more proud of our teams. Thank you so much for sharing this post. I enjoyed reading this.

  10. Barb

    Great read that made me smile and shed a tear. I’ve been done with small town high school sports for almost 2 years now. This brought back many good memories. My 3 kids all played high school sports and are all on a path to a successful life. I attribute much of this to the lessons learned from playing sports. Luckily they all had great coaches for role models, one being my husband. Thanks for helping me relive the memories!

  11. Jerry Hoyer

    March 5,2014
    I, too, grew up in a small town in Montana (Belt) with about 93 kids in high school. We are a class c
    school and all get to play. We had never been to “state” before until 4 years ago when we took 3rd place and learned a great lesson. It is unbelievable for a girls program. We won the “state” title two years ago and again last year….. unreal for a class “C” school. We again, won the divisional tournament and will go to state next week to defend the title again. A threepeat……. I am lucky to have two granddaughters playing on the team …. a senior and a 5′ 11″ freshman….. the town will be empty next week as all will attend the tourney…. I never made it to state as a boy player, but cried when the girls won the title… being from a small town is absolutely great!! Go Huskies !!!!

  12. Jeremy Anthony

    I love hearing this story as it reminds me of the sports background of my youth. I came from a small town in Southern California where we played both ways and special teams in football, at least two positions in baseball, and got plenty of time on the court even if we (read I) couldn’t hit a free throw to save my life. The lessons, though, in teamwork, camaraderie, dedication, commitment, and leadership were and still are the most valuable lessons we learned regardless of whether we won or lost.

  13. Lori Kretschmar

    Really nice article, Katie. It brought me back to the Loboes game. That was an exciting game! I went to a larger school and wanted my kids brought up where I didn’t have to worry about them getting into drugs, alcohol, etc., and where they would know ALL the kids they graduated with. Big sacrifice for me having grown up in larger cities with everything at your fingertips, I don’t mind saying, but I have never regretted it. These kids will be friends for life.

  14. Kathy oberg

    This story says it all-I know because it is how we live and love in our little 1A community of Toledo Washington-reigning State Boys Basketball champions and headed to the State basketball tournament again tomorrow. Go Toledo Indians. We are Toledo and couldn’t be more proud if our boys and coaches.

  15. Greg Maddock

    Great story. Reminds me of the old District 1/Region 1 tournaments of the mid 70 ‘ s to late 70’s. I am an Oakes High School graduate and our team did the same thing in 1977 against Lidgerwood in the first afternoon game. They were favored and our coaches had our team ready. Next year it will be a reunion of sorts as Oakes joins District 5 and Region 3. The old foes of the 60 ‘ s and 70’s together in the realignment. Go Tornadoes!!

  16. Allen W

    This is a great story that brought tears to my eyes. I coached small town high school basketball for 18 years. I loved coaching but I got out as some board members got nasty about me to my 4 year old girl. I still to this day would like to punch this guy out but I will be the bigger person.
    Thank you for reminding me why I have coached. I love the guys I have coached, and I get even more enjoyment now seeing them grow up and start families.
    Thank you again.

  17. The incredible downside to this is that children who are artistically and musically talented (and not athletically talented or interested in athletics) wind up being ostracized and their talents are downplayed as not worthy of recognition or value. Let’s face it: Small town schools rarely are as concerned about the band, writing, forensics, or the art club as they are in athletics. That part sucks.

    As a parent of a very artistically-gifted kid in a small school, it frustrates me that so much attention is given to sports and none to the arts. I get it to a point, don’t get me wrong…but it doesn’t make it any less frustrating. Sports are a ‘god’ in small schools.

    I guess I have the choice to open-enroll her in a larger school. 😉 They both have their positives and negatives.

    1. Joey, thank you for your comment. I think it depends on the school. Our school has thriving speech and drama, music, science and FFA programs to name a few that give kids other opportunities outside of sports. Of our son’s class of 19 he is the only one who plays basketball in the class. Absolutely larger schools have more variety of opportunities. There is never a one size fits all option for all kids. Thanks for reading.
      Other blog posts to see our small school programs include theatre:
      Science Fair:
      Music Concerts:
      Thanks again.

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  19. Tonya

    I cried as I scrolled through your pictures, stopping at the picture of your dad and son. The bigger schools are a blessing in thier own way, but nothing can take the place of walking into a small school where your entire family’s class pictures are on the wall dating from 1920-2013, (with more coming up) where everyone there knew your grandparents, your parents, your children, the awe of a small child when someone scooped them up in a hug on thier first day of school & told them, “you are your papaw made over.”, having a basketball coach that truly believes in “his” boys, having raised them from age twelve to eighteen. Our entire community turns out for our basketball teams. They discuss highlights from each game in depth around the table over coffee, own a part of each child in thier heart and some can even spit out stats almost as good as us moms. You described it perfectly.

  20. Joy Knutson

    This article so resonated with me. I grew up in a small town in NW MN, graduating with a class of 21. I raised my three sons there, and all were fortunate enough to play 3 seasons of sports. During a business trip to the “big city”, I had a conversation with the shuttle driver who took me from the airport to my hotel. He asked where I was from, and I explained in generic terms, stating it was the 2nd smallest independent school district in MN. I fully expected to be laughed at and treated like a “hick”. He said, “Oh, ma’am…you are so lucky! Your boys are so lucky! To be able to play sports, understand and experience what it’s like to be part of a team…here in the city we have to deal with the superstars, the jocks and so much political bull$h*t. Good for you.” I have never thought of sports in a small town in the same way since. He really put it in perspective, and my sons are better people because of their experiences. Thank you for the wonderful article.

  21. Katie,

    Great post! My very-very-very non-sports son goes to a small school as well. He is in a class of 16. Out of the blue, he called one day in his freshman year and told me, “Mom, I think I’m going to go out for basketball.” I literally looked at the phone to make sure I wasn’t talking to someone else’s kid. He went out and wasn’t very good. The team was flat-out bad. And frankly, that was part of the appeal to him – he knew he wouldn’t really be holding them back. He is successful at a lot of things. Being not-so-good at something has been a great lesson for him. He won the “Best Attitude” and “Most Improved” awards last season and went out again this year. He never would have had that opportunity in a larger school. It’s one of the things we told him when he started in this very small high school – you have to “do everything” to get the most out of it. YOU have to make the experience. I’m so thankful he has that chance.

    Holly Martin

  22. I loved this! I have no idea what A, B, and C schools are but it still hits home. Thank you for reminding me why we have 3 Freshman volleyball teams, 2 JV teams, and a Varsity. It has been leaving me with a feeling of “Why in the world” but at least that way everyone has the chance to feel like they belong and can show spirit and contribute!

  23. Yup, your post has gone viral in small town America. I’m from a small town, raised my kids in a small town and wouldn’t change a thing. My small town is 800 people our school is consolidated with another small town of 260 people and is the heart of our Elmwood-Murdock community. We play together, we sing together, we worship together and we mourn together.

    Our FBLA goes to Nationals every year, out choir has sung at Carnegie Hall, we don’t have the professional coaches, or elite music teachers, we have teachers who are passionate about encouraging and helping kids find their talent and skills. Well put.

  24. Teri

    Loved this article!
    My grandchildren are 4th generation going to school in a small southern Minnesota town where many students are 3 sport athletes, but they also excelled in Science Olympiad, Speech, Math league.
    Our Dance team just returned from their first trip to State. We have an alumni that pitches
    for the Minnesota Twins. Our Alumni are Doctors, Geologists, Nurses, Teachers, Engineers, Farmers, Preachers, Business Owners, Musicians. These students may not have had all the opportunities in the world, but they have certainly learned a lot of valuable life lessons and the most importantly is probably self confidence.
    We work hard, we play harder. We don’t expect things to be provided for us, we work for them and we
    all celebrate in everyone’s accomplishments.
    Very Proud for your school and team. Been there, felt that,
    loved every moment!

    1. Thank you Teri! Definitely I can relate to your comment. Our son plays sports, piano, trumpet, is in drama, science fair and loves FFA as much as basketball. It’s a unique experience. I love what you said about working harder. That is so true!

  25. Chris

    Saw this post via a bunch of facebook shares. Looks like it’s been shared around 8,000 times! That’s so awesome, congrats!

    Grew up in rural ND and went through the Larimore public school system from K-12. Loved my experiences there and am more than proud to have been apart of ND Class B athletics. Now I’m living in a suburb of Minneapolis. I enjoy it here as well but hopefully one day my husband and I would both love to move back to ND. Not looking forward to decisions to be made eventually regarding our children’s schooling if we stay here awhile longer. I’ve never wanted to homeschool but the MN school system is getting more absurd each year and it’s looking like the best option for us.
    Thanks again for your post! Made my day.

    1. Thanks Chris. There are advantages to different geographies. Suburbs of Minneapolis? I would love to be closer to a Target than I am! I think we all have to figure out what works best for our families and kids. There is no one size fits all. But I am thankful for the Class B experience we have had with our kids. All the best to you!

  26. stephanie raile

    This is a wonderful story and so very true…I’m just on my way to my senior sons district game if they lose tonight we are done. All day I’ve been teary eyed just knowing its all going to end sometime. But like you said its just the end of one chapter in life and a new one will begin…thank you for making me see that.. we are very lucky to live in a small town..

    1. Turning the page in chapters are always hard Stephanie. I’m glad you have enjoyed the one you are in and all the best to you as you enter a new one. Thanks for the comment!

  27. Lori

    Nice article Katie! I love the pic of your dad and Hunter! I will always remember Hunter being that ‘little guy’, can’t believe he’s all growed up!!!

    1. Lori from Northwood! So awesome to hear from you. Thanks for your comment. Yes you haven’t seen Hunter since he was a little guy. Hope you are well. Hugs!

  28. This is just too perfect! I just graduated last year from a class of 48, which is big in comparison, but it was truly the perfect size! I forget how blessed I was to grow up in such a small town, but thanks for reminding me 🙂

  29. Kim

    Katie, your article truly hits home. I grew up in Strasburg, my husband in Flasher and we both still follow our home town sports 20 years after we graduated and couldn’t be happier that one of them will be playing in State. My 4 year old loves basketball so much and I hope he gets an opportunity to play like his mom and dad did however we know he will have a long road ahead of him in a class “A” school. Class B is the most wonderful place to grow up!

    1. Thanks Kim. I was a Class A school kid and I will say your son will have an array of opportunities. There are still many wonderful things about the Class A experience. However you are right, Class B is amazing way of life on the ND prairie. Thanks again! Good Luck Flasher this weekend!

  30. My wife just sent me this article and it couldnt have been more timely. Three of my boys attended school at the number 1 basketball school in the state of Nebraska. They love basketball but we were not sure they would get the opportunity to play much varsity. So my wife and I gave them an opportunity to attend school in a small town not far from our house. Class size went from 800 to 50. It was the hardest decision I have made as a parent to have a boy leave his senior year to have an opportunity to play basketball almost seems crazy. We did it and the senior had an amazing year and he signed yesterday to play basketball at Briar Cliff in Sioux City. He may not have had this opportunity if he stayed at the other School. Thank you for sharing this article it has put some peace in my heart.

    1. Russ, your comment gave me goose bumps! I think most parents do what we can to make best life for our kids. You did that and clearly your choices paid off. Congrats to your son! And way to go!!!

  31. Stephanie

    I loved this article. I grew up in a small town in Nebraska (I graduated with 18 in my class). We (the girls) went to the State Tournament many times and the guys could never quite make it there, until our Senior year. It was so fun through all the years of heartache that they couldn’t quite do it. Did that mean we gave up on them, no, in fact, everyone talked about how they could improve and what they could do to encourage them to get better. It was ALL over the coffee shop (because you only have one cafe in the town, and EVERYONE goes there to eat).

    I LOVED growing up where I did. This article was EXACTLY small town sports, but more than that, you described a glimpse into small town culture.

    Thank you, for your honesty, creativity, and sharing your life.

    1. Thank you Stephanie! I am so glad you could relate. Small town culture is unique in itself and the school as you know is at the core of the culture. I appreciate your kind words.

  32. Heather

    I grew up in Hazelton and graduated from HMB. I now live in Mandan and am dreading the thought of my son and daughter of potentially having to play Class A sports. I wish they could get the opportunity that my husband and I got of playing Class B (he graduated from Zeeland). I really loved your article and it was perfectly written. Every emotion you had is exactly what I had.

    1. Thank you Heather. Class A sports does offer more variety than Class B sports. Swimming, gymnastics, soccer, tennis all are sports my high school had in Grand Forks that my siblings weren’t offered 35 miles away in a Class B school. However, I agree with you the experience of a Class B school is a tremendous opportunity for kids.

  33. Thank you for this wonderful post. It not only shows the beauty of small town living. But also that its hard to be a parent. That you always want to make THE right decision for your kids. But sometimes you just can not see that that decision might actually not be so right after all – although all the sophisticated reasons tell you so. And you just can’t see what’s right or wrong right away. But either way, the post also shows that no matter what your decision is, whether it is “right” (for you and your kids) or wrong (for you and your kids), it also shows that it is never too late to show your kids your love, even if you have to get into moto-cross for that 😉

  34. Bonnie Bailey

    Thank you for this heart warming article! My grandchildren go to a small school in the Texas Panhandle–which seems to be a state in its self! You put into words exactly what most of the parents feel in this small town–which is also combined with another small town! Thanks!!

    1. Thank you Anne. You are not only a city girl. You are a former Division I athlete! I think you serve as an awesome role model to kids in a small town. So glad you are raising your kids in Nebraska!

  35. Jim

    Sports can be a wonderful part of a young person’s high school experience. It absolutely teaches kids lifelong lessons – about the sport, athletic training, being part if a team, and pushing yourself to achieve more than you thought you was possible. However-in some small towns, it is over-emphasized to the detriment of other kids who aren’t as good, or whose interests don’t lie in sports. We, too, lived in a town of less than 1,500 people in the mid-west. Our son was in a class who, by the third grade had been written off as ‘the class with no athletes.’ He and his friends were consistently denied opportunities from the fourth grade on—in order to benefit the next younger class which was being groomed for a future state championship in basketball. He and his buddies wanted to learn the sport also-but they weren’t seen as having any potential. Meanwhile, the music program was severely underfunded, with one teacher handling all music education for grades K-12 in a 480 child district. Another small group of HS youth got involved in robotics, taking a team to a national competition and the community grumbled about what a waste of money that was to benefit only about 5 students.
    It is good to celebrate the sports programs in your small towns. Just make sure that it really is inclusive of everyone who wants a chance, and don’t let the pursuit of state championships be overfunded, costing other programs their fair share of the resources and attention.

    1. Thanks Jim. I agree! My siblings were a part of a national robotics team and I want to support an array of programs to enrich the lives of all students, not just athletes. If you look back on my blog you’ll see posts about theatre like this one:
      Science Fair:
      Music Concerts:
      And plenty more! Thanks for the great reminder!

  36. Gwen Thielges

    Lots of amazing lessons are learned in high school sports, and the memories are carried with us forever it seems. As the mom of the lone senior on that Loboe team, along with a sophomore, and the wife of the coach, that game is going to be one of those forever memories, but a painful one for us, unfortunately! Thankfully, all the good memories of teammates building each other up, coaches that teach their players much more about life than just basketball, a community being proud of their team’s efforts, etc. etc. overshadow those not-so-good ones! I wouldn’t want our kids to miss out on North Dakota Class B competition, EVEN THOUGH there’s always the risk of disappointment. The sad moments that we experience are all worth it in the long-run, as our kids learn to deal with disappointment with maturity and have an opportunity to impact others by the way they react to adversity.
    Great post, Katie, and I look forward to more years of competitive sports with our children having the blessing of learning character-building lessons!

    1. First, Gwen, I am grateful you took the time to comment. Thank you. When I wrote this I thought of your family, team and community and wanted to be respectful to all of you. 40 years ago, my dad’s high school team was undefeated, averaging over 100 points a game without a three point line, beating teams by over 40 points a night. They went to the state tournament to win a state championship easily. But they lost. I have heard the stories my entire life as I born not that long after and the disappointment lived on in my dad and I heard stories from across North Dakota as a kid from people who watched them play. It was a forever memory that my dad used to motivate my siblings and I through the years and a life lesson we have all learned from. Thank you again for commenting, for your kind words and for being a fantastic Class B sports mom and wife.

  37. Just a perfect post! We finished our girls MT Class C season yesterday morning, a season full of ups & downs, friendships forged, & hard lessons learned. You reminded me again that our coaches aren’t just teaching basketball skills, they’re teaching life skills! Think I’ll go write a thank-you note…..

    1. Don Ackerman

      Thank you for sharing, Katie. I had the privilege of playing football, basketball & track at Wishek in the 50’s. What great fun

  38. Todd Schnabel

    Sports and Academic competitions are great for our kids. No matter what modern day psychiatrists say…. our kids need to learn the agony of defeat and the absolute thrill of victory. So glad our kids are able to experience this in small towns!!!!

    1. I agree Todd. Defeat and victory are life lessons are kids learn through our teams and it prepares them for real life. Thanks for commenting!

  39. Roxy Henke

    This makes me feel like crying…I feel a little sad for that man (and his son)…but mostly I feel happy for living right where I do!! Thanks for putting it into words!

    1. Thank you Roxy. I definitely needed the conversation just as much as him. It helped me put to words and see in my photos what I wouldn’t have seen otherwise.

      1. class b sports fan

        I am a father with three kids in the Lamoure loboes school. It was heart wrenching to listen to that game, bdut the best team won and I had a talk with my kids after that game cause they were so disappointed. The moral of my story was they came prepared and with a plan and hard work and dedication led them to the win. I myself played in the same region growing up and know exactly what you are talking about and wouldn’t ever leave a small town for that exact reason. My kids will be better off because of it in my mind. I would like to thank you and the man next to you for creating this article it was amazing and a testiment to life in rural nd and how precious it really is. Also congrats south border on a great season.

        1. Thank you for your kind comment! I was definitely thinking of LaMoure when I wrote this and wanted to be respectful of your great team, coaches and community. Again, thanks for taking the time to share.

  40. A wonderful post! Small towns teach kids so many things. Here in MO we too are playing the final games of the year. Very glad that you had the seat you had next to this dad. I think you both gained something.

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