book cover

“During my career, I always remembered Coach Musburger’s advice: ‘Always be prepared for your next move, get yourself in position, you may not get the ball every time, but when you do, you can make a good pass or take a good shot.’

“It is the same in life.”

Those thoughts by local leader Allen Rasmussen are featured on the back cover of a new book, “A Tale of Two Basketball Teams and Their Coach Jim Musburger: Strandquist and Karlstad 1956-1979.”

The book’s author, Jill Musburger Johnson, said in a news release the book “recalls a golden era in small town basketball when a steady caravan of fan buses and cars traveled through blizzards, sub-zero temps and floods to pack high school gyms in remote Minnesota.”

The book offers a compilation of sports stories at the suggestion of the coach’s athletes.

Musburger Johnson said the stories in the book are examples of more than 80 stories submitted by athletes, coaches and fans.

Included in the book, among the many stories, are comments by Rasmussen, Strandquist class of 1961.

Rasmussen recalls when Musburger started a baseball team in Strandquist.

“Some of the Polish kids did not always come to school in the spring as they worked on the farm during planting season – this was a real problem for the baseball team as many of the players were Polish, and they were really good at baseball,” Rasmussen is quoted in the book.

“Most hailed from Florian, where Jerry Szczepanski’s dad, Stanley, coached the Florian Falcons summer baseball team, and Coach Musburger depended on him and Charlie Krantz, the mailman, for coaching assistance. Superintendent Orcutt loaned me his ’58 Dodge (I was a sophomore) to drive out to the field, get the player off the tractor and take him to school for the game. When the Strandquist School closed in 1991, I gave the last commencement address, told this story, and ended the speech, ‘We were the only baseball team that showered before the game.’”

Musburger will be inducted into the Minnesota Coaches Hall of Fame on Oct. 12 at the Sheraton West in Minnetonka. The book is available at Barnes & Noble, Amazon, The Red Poppy in Fosston, Nordisk in Karlstad, The Bemidji Woolen Mills and bookstores.

Meanwhile, Musburger Johnson writes about how basketball, often the only winter sport in small towns, provided countless thrills and excitement for players, fans and coaches.

“The Warriors and the Rabbits are now history but their spirit and pride live on in all the athletes, coaches and fans, who poured their hearts and souls into every game,” she said. “Typical of Jim Musburger’s entire coaching career, his athletes and peers came through for him and ended up writing the book in their own words — poignant and often hilarious memories of ‘the best of times.’”

In addition, Musburger Johnson said the book’s value lies in the culture and camaraderie that sports provided in small towns.

“As small towns and schools disappear, their stories are a valuable legacy in Minnesota history,” she said. “It is important that future generations understand how sports united an entire community and cemented lasting friendships and memories.”

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