It was a big weekend in Chisholm, the Iron Range city made famous in the movie Field of Dreams ... and by the presence of legendary basketball coach Bob McDonald, who retired in 2014 after 53 years of coaching the high school's boys' basketball team. The county fair was going on along with "Doc Moonlight Graham Days" and the high school's all-class reunion.

And a big part of the weekend was the dedication of the Bob McDonald Court in the Chisholm High School gym.

“I hope they’ve done renovations in the gym after all the paint I peeled off the walls with my shouting," McDonald told John Millea of the Minnesota State High School League before the ceremony.

 

Photo courtesy of John Millea

McDonald grew up in Chisholm, graduated in 1951 and returned to coach in 1961. His teams went to the state tournament 11 times and won three titles while McDonald compiled a career coaching record of 1,012-428, which included six years coaching at McGregor and Barnum before returning to his hometown school.

It goes without saying that the dedication was among the highlights of the weekend. It included a video that started with a photo of Bob at age 4 and went on to detail his basketball accomplishments, several speeches and then words from McDonald himself.

“We were an ordinary bunch of athletes, and Bob turned us into an extraordinary team,” said Mike Koshmrl, a member of the 1973 state champions.

“It’s wonderful to see my old friends and my old players," McDonald said.

Photo courtesy of John Millea

Before the ceremony, McDonald talked about the honor with Louie St. George of the Duluth News Tribune: "It's nice of them to do it, but I never wanted to be grandiose. I wouldn't have asked to have anybody do that for me, or even contemplate doing that. But I appreciate it, simply because of the number of years I spent on that court."

McDonald has six children, all of whom played basketball and went into coaching. Four of them still coach -- three in high school and one at a community college -- and he has a grandson, Bryce Tesdahl, who is the boys' basketball coach at East Ridge, and another, Rhett McDonald, who is head coach at Duluth East. Two other grandchildren are assistant coaches at Minnesota high schools.

Earlier this year, after a controversy involving anti-Muslim tweets by the head of Minnesota's Mr. Basketball program, the state's boys' basketball coaches association decided to present an award named for Bob McDonald to the state's top player starting in 2018.

You can read St. George's full story here.

Here is Millea's report on the event from the Minnesota State High School League web site.

For more about McDonald's coaching legacy, read this Patrick Reusse column from 2013.

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