Volume 125, Number 9
Coaching career comes to a close for Minnewaukan’s Ron Carlson
BY SARA J PLUM
When asked to describe the most memorable event in his coaching career, Ron Carlson surprised me by replying, "Probably the time I stole the ball from a player." Huh?
At first I thought he meant during practice or a scrimmage game. No, it happened several years ago during a game with Four Winds. Ron actually took the ball away from a Four Winds player when he came down court on a fast break. Earned a technical for it, but broke up the fast break.
A career spanning 34 years has numerous memorable moments for a coach — some little, some big, all of them special. And every once in a while, funny!
Those coaching moments are now over for Ron. At the end of the 2007-2008 boys’ basketball season he announced his retirement from coaching.
Why did he pick now to retire? After all, he is still going to be the part-time high school principal at Minnewaukan School, so why not continue coaching?
The decision to quit wasn’t an easy one for Ron. He’d been contemplating the move for a few years and it just felt like the time was finally right.
So let’s flip the calendar back to 1974, the beginning of an impressive career. Ron graduated from Portland High School (yes, the one in North Dakota) in 1970 then stayed close to home by attending Mayville State College. He played basketball in high school and the first two years of college. Realizing he didn’t quite have what it took to play at the college level, he coached junior high basketball at May-Port (Mayville-Portland) from 1972 to 1974. This was what he enjoyed — coaching basketball.
So with two years of coaching experience and his degree from Mayville State College in hand, Ron packed up the family (wife Claudette and children Jennifer and Ryan) and moved to Minnewaukan to coach basketball and teach business classes. Everyone knows the importance high school sports has in rural North Dakota. It’s taken very, very seriously and woe to the coach who isn’t up to the standards set by the local "professionals." Luckily Ron came to this farming community with a plan in mind. He knew he wanted to run a successful basketball program and was fearless in his dream to build the program his way. Locals took the measure of this young family man "from the valley" and decided to see what would happen before they passed judgment.
What happened was a dream fulfilled for everyone — a floundering basketball program found the path to success.
It wasn’t a smooth or easy path, rather one filled with long hours, hard work and Ron’s mantra, "Play hard, play smart." All told, 193 young men traveled down that path with Ron. They put together 578 wins, 242 losses, 57 championships in various tournaments and four trips to the state Class B tournament.
Ron has been named coach of the year 10 times at the district level, eight at the regional level and once at the state level, in 2000, ironically the last state appearance made by his teams. He was the first high school principal to be elected to the North Dakota High School Athletic Association’s (NDHSAA) board of directors, serving from 2002 to 2006. He has also been on the NDHSAA basketball advisory board, meeting with coaches throughout the state and reporting their concerns and ideas to NDHSAA.
Also among the plaques on his office wall is a Distinguished Alumni Award received from Mayville State University in 2005. Through the years he has had five assistant coaches: David Salisbury, Mike Callahan and RJ Hanson at Minnewaukan, Lorell Jungling at Sheyenne, and Charlie Bisbee at Leeds. Their invaluable assistance was a boon to keeping the program successful.
He has coached the Minnewaukan Midgets, the Sheyenne-Minnewaukan Midgets and the Minnewaukan-Leeds Lions. And with each team the mantra has been the same, "Play hard, play smart."
Every team coached makes an impact one way or another. So when you’ve coached 34 teams can there be a favorite? An unequivocal "No" was the response. There were a few teams who were special in their own way, though. The 1974-1975 team was special because they were willing to work hard to change from a defeatist attitude to a successful attitude.
That change paid off when the next two teams made back-to-back appearances at the state tournament. The 1987 team consisted of extremely talented players with lots of potential. Ron feels they would have taken the championship at state that year if they hadn’t lost Jerry Sears due to an eye injury in the regionals. The Leeds Lions went on to state, defeating the Midgets 58-51 in the regional championship game. He also said the 1990 team was special, not only because his son, Ryan was on the team and daughter Jennifer was a cheerleader, but because the players were a group of overachievers who played at the high level Ron expected from all his players.
When asked which team had the best offense, the 1976-1977 team got the nod. If the 3-point shot had been part of the scoring, this team would have had a heyday.
The best defensive team Ron figured would have to be the 1999-2000 bunch. They never gave up more than 60 points a game. Speaking of points, one should probably be cleared up here. Even though the title is "Head Boys’ Basketball Coach," Ron thinks of himself as more of a teacher of basketball, one who set up the curriculum for a successful program.
"Success isn’t about winning. It’s about playing the game the way it should be played — playing smart, playing consistent and playing hard," he stated. "You have to outwork everyone. Not only do the players have to, but the coaches, too." Not many people realize how much time goes into coaching. It’s not just an hour and a half of practice a day and going to the games. There’s scouting to do, game film to watch, information to research and meetings to attend, among other responsibilities. In addition to coaching and teaching, Ron became high school principal the third year he was at Minnewaukan.
Why add to an already full schedule? "I like dealing with the kids. Being principal is kind of like coaching," was his response. All those responsibilities require time. And unfortunately it’s time away from the most important people in your life. The family that first moved to Minnewaukan became complete with the addition of Joanna. Ron’s multiple jobs at the school may have kept him away from home, but they also enabled wife Claudette to fulfill her dream of being a stay-at-home mom.
She was, of course, much more than that. Not only did she "keep the home fires burning," but she made room in their lives for the players, making them her kids, too.
Ron commented that Claudette has the great personality that made them feel at ease and she was good for them. She was also a true coach’s wife, listening when there was frustration and rejoicing each success.
A lot of things are missed when the children are young, however being a teacher at their school gave Ron the opportunity to be a part of their day and attend all their programs. Were there any other influences besides a wonderful wife, great assistants and hard-working players?
Yes. No coach can stay at one school for as long as Ron did without support from the school board, administration and faculty. But the most important support of all comes from the parents and the community. This coach appreciates all of it. So is there any advice for someone beginning a coaching career?
Ron recommends developing your own philosophy and sticking with it; learning as much as you can from anybody you can; and not being afraid to expect your players to play at a high level. After all, kids will only do what you expect of them, so expect them to be successful.
The greatest reward in coaching, according to Ron, is not the trophies, but the visits, cards, letters and phone calls from former players and the knowledge that they have become great individuals and successful in their lives.
He’s watched some of his players become coaches and cheers their efforts. Well, maybe except for Bob Dietchman. Ron’s 1990 squad faced Bob’s Midkota team in the semi-finals of the regional tournament that year. Coach Ron prevailed, and it’s very possible that way down inside — way, way down — he was cheering Bob on.
Other players who’ve picked up the clipboard are Rob Scherr at Park River, Rick Scherr at Carrington, Darrin Myhre at Lake Park-Audubon, Minn. and recently Jerry Sears at Maddock.
The teaching of basketball will always be part of Ron’s life. Just because he’s retired, doesn’t mean he’ll stop teaching. After all, there are grandchildren Grandpa Ron will have plenty of time to teach basketball to — and fishing and maybe some bird hunting.
Our time was up, but there was one more question that needed to be asked of the veteran coach.
What ever happened to the orange towel? Those of you who remember the early years know which towel I’m talking about. The one that was prone to high-speed aerial trips anywhere, at anytime, within a 10-foot range of the bench.
Ron said the "Bench Decorum" rule made the early retirement of the orange towel necessary. Its threadbare appearance indicated it didn’t have many years left anyway. The towel wouldn’t have lasted 34 years, but Ron sure did.
Ron graciously smiled for the photographer, his one-time student and scorebook keeper. The wall behind him is filled with plaques received during 34 years of coaching and teaching. Ceramic basketball bowls and family pictures make up the rest of his office decor. Note the plaque on the left commemorates his 400th win.
The Carlson family is shown posing for a 2006 Christmas card photo. Ron is looking forward to having more time to spend with the children and their families. In the back, on the left, are Patrick and Joanna Hart of Albuquerque, NM. Joanna is the youngest of the Carlson children. She teaches music at a private school and also sings opera when time allows.
In the middle are Jill and Ryan Carlson of Fargo. Ryan is also the middle child. He keeps busy working for Microsoft and rearing a family. Jill is holding Bridger, who is now 1-1/2 years old. They will be adding to their family in a couple of months.
On the right are Jennifer and Jamie Taylor of Milaca, Minn. Jennifer followed dad into the teaching profession, teaching business at Milaca Public Schools.
In the front row grandpa and grandma are surrounded by Anika Carlson, eight years old; Sofia Hart, two years old; Braden Taylor, two years old; Austin Carlson, five years old; and Jalen Taylor (one of grandpa’s fishing buddies), six years old.
Tokio man receives WWII medals
US Senator Byron Dorgan (D-ND) honored a North Dakota World War II veteran last week in Devils Lake with medals he earned over 60 years ago.
During a ceremony at the Memorial Building, Dorgan presented Robert L. Olson with seven medals he earned while serving in the US Army from 1942-1946. The presentation happened less than a month before Olson’s 90th birthday.
"It is an honor for me to be able to present these medals to Mr.
Olson; I’m just sorry it has taken so long," Dorgan said. "It’s important that we continue to recognize the contribution that the veterans of World War II made to this country."
A Devils Lake native, Olson served in Company A of the 101st Infantry Division as a cook during the Ardennes, Rhineland and Central Europe campaigns. He also served with the 22nd Armored Tank Battalion.
After the war, Olson returned to North Dakota, married his wife, Nancy and worked as a farmhand raising sheep and cattle. He now lives in Tokio. His wife is deceased. Medals earned by Olson include the Good Conduct Medal, American Campaign Medal, European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign Medal and Bronze Star attachment (Triple), World War II Victory Medal, Honorable Service Lapel Button WWII, Expert Badge and Submachine Gun Bar, Marksman Badge and Carbine Bar.
Robert L. Olson of Tokio (second from left) was honored March 25 in a ceremony at Devils Lake, where he received medals he earned during World War II. Left to right are Brigadier General Michael Walsh, Olson, US Sen. Byron Dorgan and US Congressman Earl Pomeroy.
Township officers meet March 27
BY RICHARD PETERSON
Officers of the Benson County Township Officers Assn. were re-elected at the annual meeting of the organization March 27 at Trinity Free Lutheran Church in Min-newaukan. Re-elected were Erling Karlsbraaten of Maddock, president; Ralph Olson of Maddock, vice president; and Bonnie Erickson of Minnewaukan, secretary-treasurer. Karlsbraaten presided at the meeting.
Rep. Arlo Schmidt (D-Maddock) of District 7 said most functions of state government should be fully funded in the coming biennium.
However, with the skyrocketing cost of petroleum products, funds for building and repairing roads will be a major issue in the next legislative session.
Rep. Ben Vig (D-Aneta) of District 23 added that he is looking at increasing that portion of the gas tax which goes to political subdivisions to lessen the impact of high petroleum prices.
Ralph Olson encouraged townships to sign agreements with contractors to spell out the obligations of the contractor before construction begins. "This can reduce the liability to the townships," he said.
Another issue facing townships is finding officers to serve on township boards. Benson County Highway Superintendent Gene "Shorty" Hager told township officers that he expected load restrictions to be instituted by the commissioners on April 1. "If you’ve got hauling to do, do it now," he urged. "The roads are still frozen so no damage should be done."
Hager also said there will have to be price increases for county hire, primarily because of the increasing price of gas and diesel fuel. He added one blade doing snow removal work requires 10 gallons of diesel fuel per hour.
Signing of roads has been proceeding in the county and the cost has been much less than first anticipated. He expected that next year county highways will be named (such as County 5, for instance).
Olson revealed that one township in Benson County is not paying dues to the county and state township organizations. Joe Black of Knox stated he would talk to the township supervisors. The township was not named. Tom Moe, attorney for the ND Township Officers Assn. said all townships benefit from membership. The lobbying activities of the association alone are worth the membership, among other benefits provided. "The one cent gas tax which goes to townships was instituted as a result of lobbying by the association. What would townships do without that?" he asked.
Benson County Sheriff Steve Rohrer told the gathering his office now has two 4-wheel drive vehicles. He added that his office is planning a mock auto accident at the Maddock School on April 15. "This comes just before proms and graduation ceremonies and we hope it will leave an impression on high school students," Rohrer said.
Brian Maddock of Maddock, a member of the Benson County Water Board, said townships which have drainage problems should contact him, or other members of the water board, Ken Hoffert of Knox or John Beckstrand of Warwick. The water board meets the first Tuesday of each month at the courthouse in Minnewaukan.
Moe told the gathering that he thought an exemption would pass Congress to get rid of payroll tax forms for political subdivisions which do not pay more than $1,300 for services performed. Few, if any, townships in Benson County spend that much on their governing boards. Township officers in North Dakota can be paid $20 per day of work for a maximum of $1,000 per year.
Several townships have looked at the possibility of dissolving because of lack of people in the township and the inability of getting people to serve on the township board. Moe said he thought it would be better, in most cases, to merge with adjoining townships.
"Benson County might be different. It might work here to have your commissioners handle the township duties, but by and large, I think merging is better than dissolving." Up to five adjoining townships can merge into one. Moe said this has been done in several counties and merging seems to work well. "The biggest problem appears to be choosing a new name for the enlarged township," Moe said.
Olson added that a township in Ward County had dissolved a few years ago. "They discovered they had made a big mistake," Olson said. Residents of that township are now petitioning the commissioners to be reinstituted as a township.
Moe said advance notice of meetings is required by law. However, in cases of emergency where immediate action is required, such as a road washout, advance notice is not required.
State’s Attorney Jim Wang told the gathering about the proposed regulations on residential subdivisions being drafted by the Benson County Zoning Board. Wang told the gathering that it is a work in progress that requires a minimum amount of planning in relation to services such as fire protection, police protection, street design, utilities, drainage, block and lot size, water and sewer, etc.
Members of the Benson County Zoning Board are Erling Karlsbraaten, Ralph Olson, Barry Cox of Warwick, and county commissioners Mike Steffan of St. Michael and Curtis Hvinden of Maddock.
Karlsbraaten also appointed a committee to amend the bylaws of the Benson County Township Officers Assn. because the existing bylaws, which were discovered only in the past year, are hopelessly outdated. On the committee are Gerald Jaeger of Esmond, Wendell Grondahl of Maddock and Kay Griffin of Oberon.
Officers re-elected at the Benson County Township Officers Association meeting March 27 in Minnewaukan were, left to right, Ralph Olson of Maddock, vice president; Erling Karlsbraaten of Maddock, president; and Bonnie Erickson of Minnewaukan, secretary-treasurer.
Students of Quarter
The Leeds High School Students of the Quarter for the third quarter of the 2007-2008 school year have been selected. Students are chosen for this honor based on their academic performance, cooperation, personal behavior, student involvement and responsibility. Left to right, back row, are eighth grader Kyle Jorgenson, son of Steve and Geri Jorgenson; seventh grader Seth Bisbee, son of Charlie and Tamie Bisbee; and freshman Michael Urness, son of Kevin and Tammy Urness.
In the front row are sophomore Brenna Stone, daughter of Kelly and Kim King; senior Nicole Herman, daughter of Reg and Eileen Herman; and junior Denage Braaten, daughter of Joel and Carol Braaten.
Scouts keep busy with Thinking Day activities
The Brownie Troop of Maddock celebrated Thinking Day at its February 25 meeting. Thinking Day is a day set aside for Scouts around the world to think about each other and to celebrate membership in the world-wide organization for girls, the World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts.
First year Brownies received their World Trefoil pin and their first Try-it pin, Girl Scout Ways. A presentation was given on the meaning of the world pin and members donated to the World Friendship Fund.
In celebration of Girl Scouts Week (March 9-15) and the 96th birthday of Girl Scouts, scouts observed Girl Scouts Sunday at various churches and Monday the Brownie and Junior Girl Scouts troops held a celebration.
Another Thinking Day was recently held with Lisa Swanson-Faleide as guest speaker. She spoke about a family trip to Great Britain and Germany, showing pictures, locating places visited on a map and sharing candy and special scarf tyings.
The leader of the Brownie Troop is Helen Foss. Debbie Pierson and Joyce Rasmussen are helpers. Junior Troop leader is Robyn Risovi and helper is Mary Ann Williams. Troops are sponsored by the North Viking WELCA and the Auxiliary to the Theo. A. Togstad American Legion Post 123.
Another successful cookie sales campaign is complete. Hannah Pierson was top seller with over 200 boxes sold.
Maddock Girl Scouts learned about Great Britain and Germany from guest speaker Lisa Swanson-Faleide. Back row, left to right, are Kristi Medalen, Delores Williams, Ashley Risovi, Kayla Melaas and Lisa Swanson-Faleide. Middle row: Kenzie Randle, Marissa Lunde, Faith Roberts, Hannah Pierson, Emily Sears and Taylor Foss. Front row: Talissa Aabrekke, Abigail Grossman, Greta Duren and Keringten Lee.
Scouts not pictured include Charity Dosch, Brianna Johnson and Rebecca Johnson.
Leeds principals for a day
Leeds High School students Daniel Harkness and Dustin Paulson were elementary principals for the day recently. Mrs. Braaten, elementary principal, put her job up for auction at the high school benefit for Hannah Anderson and Harkness and Paulson submitted the highest bid.
Pictured with the principals for a day are elementary students, left to right, front row, Ashley Thayne, Camee Wangler, Hailey Gunderson, Evan Follman, Kim Nelsen, Caitlyn Blazer and Nathan Elverud. In the back row are Daniel Harkness, Reganne Ritterman, Callie Lawrence, Keaton Nelsen, Declan Ritterman and Dustin Paulson.
Maddock foundation gives grants
At the March 6 meeting of the Maddock Community Endowment Fund Advisory Board, grants totaling $1,497 were awarded to four local organizations. Those receiving grants were: The city of Maddock received $498.50 for kitchen and locker room renovation in the Multi-Purpose Building; the Maddock Park Board received $498.50 for repair of the swimming pool; the Maddock Community Library received $400 for books for the summer reading program; and Kids on the Block/After School Program received $100 for supplies.
The Maddock Community Endowment Fund was created in 2004 and provides a method of receiving funds/donations to benefit projects and organizations in the Maddock area. The Maddock Community Endowment Fund is a permanently endowed fund, which means that gifts from many individuals are pooled into a single fund. Each year the advisory board uses earnings from the fund to make grants. The greatest benefit to this arrangement is that the pool of money is flexible and can be used for whatever the current needs are in the community. As the fund grows through gifts from current and former residents, the local advisory board will have more money to use for grants.
The Maddock Community Endowment Fund has the opportunity to leverage local dollars. For every dollar raised, up to $10,000, the ND Community Foundation will match it dollar-for-dollar. The local board is working toward maximizing the available dollar-for-dollar match. For more information on how to help the community meet its goal, contact Wanda Terpening at 438-2222.
Priscilla Backstrom, left, accepts a $400 grant award on behalf of the Maddock Community Library from Wanda Terpening, a member of the board which distributes the funds. The library will use the money for the summer reading program.
Maddock’s City Auditor Pam Lee, right, accepts $498.50 in grant funds from the Maddock Commuity Foundation, represented by Wanda Terpening.
These funds were awarded for use by the Multi-Purpose Building for project support.
Kent Neppl, left, accepts $498.50 on behalf of the Maddock Park Board for use in swimming pool repairs. Wanda Terpening presented the check.
Kathy Daeley, left, accepts $100 for the After School Activities Program from Mrs. Terpening.
Book bingo in Oberon
The Oberon School held a Title I family book bingo on March 27. A total of 21 students and their parents-guardians were in attendance and posed for a picture. Tables of books were displayed for the children to look through and decide which ones they wanted. Teachers, staff and parents-guardians helped the children with their selections. The students were obviously excited about the event.
These girls are checking out the reading material on the table. From the left are Cheyenne Whitetail, Destanee Black and Nakia Hill. In the background are teacher MaryAnn Broe and principal Kenny Ploium.
With so many to choose from, Destanee Black gets some help from teacher MaryAnn Broe. Jacen Deckert examines books at the same table.
Looking over the selection of books are, left to right, Tiana Thumb, Taylah Thumb and Anthony DeMarce.
Team takes first
The Maddock Elementary Academic Challenge Team took first place at the Academic Challenge held in New Rockford on March 18. Pictured, left to right, are, back row, Alyssa Armentrout, Renae Lauinger, Kaleb Westad and Maria Sears. In the front row are Nora Duren and Jaydin Risovi.