Bob McDonald didn't have a lot of team rules for the high school basketball teams he coached. But he was emphatic about the ones he did have.
The rules he stressed to his players included short hair and no facial hair, and what to wear on game days and where to sit on the bus on trips to away games. The discipline he expected from his teams also applied to himself. In nearly six decades of coaching, he never received a technical foul.
His boys' basketball teams won 1,012 games during his 59 seasons as a coach, including 53 at Chisholm High School. He is one of just 20 boys' high school basketball coaches in the nation to win 1,000 games, according to the National Federation of High Schools record book.
McDonald was born on June 25, 1933, in Buffalo, N.Y., but grew up in Chisholm on Minnesota's Iron Range. He graduated from Chisholm High School in 1951 and attended the University of Michigan for one semester. He then enrolled at Hibbing Junior College, where he played on the basketball team. The 1951-52 Hibbing team was the runner-up at the National Junior College tournament.
After earning an associate degree from Hibbing, he enrolled at the University of Minnesota-Duluth. He led the basketball team in scoring in each of his two seasons (1953-1955). He graduated from UMD with a B.S. degree in social studies, history and physical education.
He began his teaching and coaching career at McGregor (Minn.) High School. After four seasons at McGregor, he coached two seasons at Barnum (Minn.). In 1961 he returned to Chisholm to teach history and social studies, as well as coach basketball and track and field.
In those 53 seasons at Chisholm, his Bluestreaks' basketball teams reached the state tournament 11 times, winning state titles in 1973, 1975 and 1991. He led teams to the state tournament in five decades — the 1970s, 1980s, 1991s, 2000s and 2011.
He won his 1,000th game in the Bluestreaks' 61-55 victory over Walker-Hackensack-Akeley on Dec. 26, 2013. He retired after the season.
In 2018, McDonald was a member of the first class of the Minnesota High School Basketball Hall of Fame. The Minnesota Basketball Coaches Association now presents the McDonald Award annually to the top senior basketball player in the state.
He also coached the Chisholm track and field team to the Class 1A state title in 2001.
McDonald's legacy includes all six of his children (four sons and two daughters) becoming basketball coaches. As of 2021, three of his grandchildren are high school basketball coaches.
McDonald died on Oct. 14, 2020 at the age of 87.
Teams: Barnum, McGregor and Chisholm High School