Coaches recall the best Christmas presents
Red and green are the colors of Christmas. But it was black and white that made for a memorable holiday gift for Vern Johnson. The 61-year-old Win-E-Mac High School boys basketball coach grew up in an era when television was in its infancy. His f...
Red and green are the colors of Christmas. But it was black and white that made for a memorable holiday gift for Vern Johnson.
The 61-year-old Win-E-Mac High School boys basketball coach grew up in an era when television was in its infancy. His family lived in a one-television house.
Until one memorable Christmas.
"This kind of dates me,'' said Johnson, a member of the Minnesota Boys High School Basketball Coaching Association's hall of fame. "But one year I got a little 10- or 12-inch TV for Christmas. It was black and white, no color (picture).
"I always thought that was kind of a neat gift. I could watch all three channels that you could get back at that time in my bedroom. And if you turned the antennas just right, sometimes you could even get a fourth channel.''
The best Christmas gifts for local and area coaches come in all shapes and sizes. Here's a sampling of the most memorable, most fun, ones they've opened for Christmas.
GF Central track & cross country
A small piece of paper left a lifetime of memories for Allan. In 1997, Allan's father gave all of his children and their families airplane tickets to Italy. It was big family vacation.
"It was the first time all of us were able to do something like that together,'' Allan said. "We're Scottish, but my dad was an architect and he really wanted to see the architecture in Italy. We did the sightseeing and my younger brothers were still running track, so I did some coaching with them while we were there. We still talk about that trip.''
EGF Senior High soccer
The Green Wave coach's most memorable gift is from her recent past-a bike from her parents.
"I got it several years ago and I'm still going strong on it. I've put tons of miles on it,'' Bina said. "It's probably the one gift I've gotten the most use out of. That's my favorite grown-up gift. I also remember getting an original Nintendo. It was something really different at the time. That was my favorite kid gift.''
Kaster, the coach of the Patriots' highly successful volleyball program, has fond memories every holiday season when she decorates the family's Christmas tree.
"The best gifts I have ever unwrapped for Christmas are the three ornaments my kids made in kindergarten,'' Kaster said. "I hang them on the tree every year.''
Red River tennis
The 53-year-old has coached the Red River boys and girls tennis dynasties. As a child, however, it was a pair of skates that left a lasting impression on the former Roughriders multi-sport athlete.
"Being the youngest of three hockey-playing brothers meant that most of the equipment I had were hand-me-downs, skates that had holes in them,'' said LaDouceur, a member of the North Dakota High School Coaches Association's hall of fame. "I was 9 or 10 years old when I got a pair of new skates, ones my brothers hadn't worn.
"That was pretty special. In my mind, those skates made me a better player. I was like a Phil Esposito. And those skates kept my feet warmer than the old hand-me-downs.''
The year-long wait for an Atari game system turned out well for both Olson and his father.
"I got an Atari 2600 one year with Pac Mac, Combat and a few other games,'' Olson said. "My dad waited for a year after all my friends had one. I begged for one for a year and he said I didn't need it.
"I got one for Christmas a year after my friends. One day I got home from school and, low and behold, there was my dad sitting in front of the TV playing it.''
Sacred Heart girls basketball
What started as a homemade kitchen play set has become an heirloom for Remer, whose Eagles are defending Section 8A champions.
"Myself and my two sisters got the handmade kitchen set from my grandfather,'' Remer said. "He made it with his own hands, with a lot of intricate parts. He painted it.
"As a kid, we liked it because it was fun to play with. Now you appreciate all the work he put into making that for us. And he made it so well that my daughters played with it when they were little, too. We still have it. It's pretty cool.''
Schwab, who led the Tommies to Class B state champions in baseball last spring and 9-man football this fall, doesn't recall getting a lot of toys at Christmas time.
"Maybe I was naughty a lot so I didn't get toys,'' Schwab said, laughing. "But one year I got a Dallas Cowboys jacket. I was a big Cowboys fan. I was pretty excited when I got that.''
North Star basketball
The coach of the undefeated, Class B top-ranked Bearcats showed her love for the game at an early age.
"I was 5 years old and I got a used basketball for Christmas,'' Vote said. "It had an Iowa Hawkeyes logo on it. My dad was a wrestling coach and he always followed Dan Gable, a long-time Iowa wrestling coach. Dad was a big fan of Iowa, so I had to have an Iowa Hawkeyes basketball.
"I used that basketball for a long time.''