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home : columns : columns May 24, 2016

6/12/2013 12:33:00 PM
An ailing coach provides inspiration

Joel Alvstad
Sports Editor

If anyone has doubts about just how important an assistant coach is to the success of a particular program, look no further than the Windom baseball team.
For the past couple of decades, Terry Burmeister has been involved as an assistant coach for the Eagles in various forms.
On June 1, Burmeister was in his familiar spot on the Eagle bench as Windom claimed a 1-0 win over Lac Qui Parle Valley in the Section 3A Tournament. But being in the dugout by him, I can say something just didn't seem right.
Burmeister's usual booming voice to direct players to positions or encourage Eagle pitchers just wasn't booming, but the players were still listening.
Apparently even he knew something wasn't right.
After the game, Burmeister convinced fellow assistant coach Jeff Huska to give him a ride to Redwood Falls, straight to the hospital.
He was having a heart attack.
Now, Redwood Falls is no little hop, skip and jump from Granite Falls. It's about a half-hour drive through winding woods and river valleys. Depending on the road taken, it can also include a winding trek through the Upper Sioux Reservation.
Needless to say, it had to be a harrowing trip for both Huska and Burmeister, but they arrived in Redwood Falls without Burmeister's condition worsening.
From there, Burmeister was stabilized and he was airlifted to a hospital in Sioux Falls. He eventually had a stint put in last week.
Not surprisingly, Burmeister was not in his usual spot in the dugout or the first base coaching box during last Thursday's section title game.
But when Burmeister took a seat next to the dugout before the bottom of the first inning, the reaction of the Eagle players seemed to give them some extra pep.
"Hey, Mr. B is here," Eagle senior Brandon Thongvivong excitedly told his teammates. A few of them rushed to the end of the dugout to say their hello to Burmeister before stepping to the plate for the bottom of the first inning.
The Eagles turned in an inspired effort on the mound and in the field, and did just enough at the plate to scratch out a 1-0 victory over Springfield, clinching the program's first trip to State since 1987.
It was clear that Burmeister was still in a somewhat fragile condition during and after the game. After the game, he came onto the field as the team received its championship trophy. The team gathered with Burmeister for a picture, and a team picture with the scoreboard in the background was taken. As the team lingered at the Marshall field in the afterglow of its victory, Burmeister was on his way home.
It would seem logical that Burmeister's health may prevent him from being in the dugout or on the field for the state tournament, but I'd be surprised if he didn't make the trip to Jordan to watch the Eagles play and continue to serve as an inspirational figure for the team.
Here's to hoping for a speedy and full recovery for Mr. B!
State champion
What Jeff DeCock was able to accomplish in two years is pretty remarkable.
During his junior year, DeCock was convinced to go out for track by coaches at his school. DeCock had come up as a baseball player, and continued to play baseball last season.
Despite that, he qualified for the state meet in the long jump, high jump and triple jump last year.
This year, an injury basically took him out of baseball, leaving him to hone his jumping skills full-time. The efforts paid off.
DeCock wound up taking sixth in both the high jump and long jump Saturday. But on Friday, DeCock captured the state title in the triple jump, leaping an amazing distance of 45-9.
DeCock has signed to play basketball at Iowa Lakes Community College in Estherville next season. However, I wouldn't have been surprised if his performance this weekend didn't make college track coaches want to talk to him.
Regardless, a performance of 45-9 is one of the longest triple jumps I've ever seen. It won DeCock gold by over 20 inches. And it solidified him forever as a state champion.
On to State
While the Eagle baseball team is advancing on to the state tournament, there will be another local connection at a different site for the state tourney.
Lakeville North advanced to the Class AAA State Tournament, which will be played at Midway Stadium in St. Paul. The starting catcher for the Panthers is Ben Jensen, the son of Fayth and Chuck Jensen. Ben's maternal grandparents are Ed and Betty Tasler of rural Jeffers.
Jensen had a double against Gopher pitching recruit Tyler Hanson of Burnsville during the section championship game, which North won 2-1.
Jensen's Lakeville North team was seeded third in the Class AAA tournament and will take on Rocori Thursday at 3 p.m.

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