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Memories of the 1963 championship season

April 8, 2013
By Ellayne Conyers , Marshall Independent

Part V

When asked about his winning free throws Schroeder simply states, "The game, you know, you go with the intention to win. You don't go up there to lose. And free throws are free throws. And we practiced them hours and hours and hours, and they are what they are. They're free throws...most of the time you should be able to make them. So, it was nothing. It was just another free throw." When pressed about whether he felt the outcome of the game was all on his shoulders at that point in the game, he claims, "Well, I didn't think of it that way. I believe that we were trained that, hey, this is a free throw. It's not, 'Can I make it?' it's just 'go out there and make it.' That's part of the game. True, after the fact, you probably think more of it." Schroeder recalls in the time out before his final free throws, when they had 15 seconds left, the team all said, "Let's go. Let's just go win!"

Schroeder acknowledges that Coach Mattke's requiring each player to make 25 free throws after every practice was valuable in the long run.

"It's the fundamentals," Schroeder said. "You know, in order to shoot free throws at a high level, the practice is there. Good practice makes good performance. Great practice makes great performance. So drilling that in made us believe that we could shoot at a high level. That was very helpful in giving the confidence that you can go out and make [free throws]." Furthermore, Schroeder said, "We had plays; we were disciplined. It wasn't go down and wait for a shot, I mean, Glenn Mattke, he worked us and we played as a team. You believe in the plan that [the coach] has developed and usually you follow that plan, and good things will happen. And they did!"

Schroeder recalls the trip home after their big win as taking a lot longer than usual because of all the communities along the way where people wanted them to stop, including Redwood Falls, Morton and Milroy. The crowd they were greeted by in Marshall "was overwhelming almost, very exciting," he remembers, "and really did prove that it was a big deal for the town of Marshall."

Schroeder speculates that win may have influenced Marshall's future to some degree.

"What would have happened if we would have lost - would Marshall be the same? We don't know. But, being a part of that, I think, put Marshall on the radar, and maybe that was part of Marshall's growth - the college coming in - we don't know. But, it was just exciting to be a part of that, and the way the community had organized, put time together to prepare this event, this celebrationvery exciting!"

When asked about how the team fared the year after their state win, Schroeder says,, "We had a good season. It ended up we got beat, I think in the Region finals against Hutchinson. And that was a tough, tough game. They were a very good team. And, you know, everybody wants to be the state champion, and it was definitely a challenging year, and we were very successful. We ended up beating Luverne, and Luverne ended up winning the state championship. The year before, [1963] we lost one game to Luverne, then we won the state championship! So, you know, this region, this district, our area here was very competitive."

Schroeder recollects that Marshall was a "community [that] followed us, supported us, celebrated with us. It was a professional school, good quality teachers, and the administration definitely supported the academics and the athletics. So, that's another reason why, when we [Dennis and his wife] wanted to come back to Minnesota, we said, 'Marshall's a nice town.'"

Schroeder earned his degree at South Dakota State University in Brookings, S.D., and played basketball there with the team. He then taught in South Dakota schools and in the military for several years. When the opportunity to be a teacher in the Marshall school system presented itself, Schroeder decided to investigate. He interviewed with Stan Kroon on a Saturday and by the next Monday the hiring committee was in Salem, S.D., to see him in the school where he was teaching at the time. Nine years after graduating from Marshall High School, Schroeder came home to Marshall where there was a new high school, a new college, and a quality system he wanted to join. He taught agriculture at the high school for 10-15 years, and then started the management program for farmers in the Marshall area which he continues to work with today, though half-time in recent years.

Regarding the recent 50th anniversary program honoring the 1963 champions, Schroeder said, "I was very impressed with how organized [it was], and the involvement of the youth basketball program through the high school, and that we were able to greet the current teams, and we were greeted by the little kids. It was very organized. They did an excellent job, and I commend them on being very professional. We felt great being there. And I was honored to be recognized. It's who we were and, I guess, part of who we are now."

In retrospect, Schroeder's fondest memory " is probably the excitement of becoming the champions as a team, and the support of the school and community. That's what sticks in my mind as very important."



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