BEYOND THE SPORTS DESK: Siblings and sports: The stars of southwestern Minnesota
MARSHALL – Sports are a family affair for many. Whether it’s playing one-on-one or throwing a football around in the backyard, athletic competition can often bring a family together.
However, not every family can be blessed with athletic giftings across the board. Take me and my brother as a perfect example. We all know which one of us was blessed with the athletic genes in the family. Me. (HA! Not quite.)
Those families that have multiple siblings with great athletic accomplishments are rare.
Last week, Minneapolis Star Tribune writer Howard Sinker put together a list of the best sports siblings ever from Minnesota.
His list didn’t include any siblings from southwest Minnesota. I posted on Twitter asking for suggestions from this corner of the state, not expecting much to come from it.
The response was overwhelming.
So much so that I felt I had to publish my own list.
To copy from Sinker, I fully expect some to take issue with the list. I would love to receive feedback, either at @joshvanklomp on Twitter or by emailing me at email@example.com.
For purposes of this discussion, I expanded past our normal coverage area. The boundary of discussion is roughly U.S. Highway 12 to the north and U.S. 71 to the east, with Iowa and South Dakota serving as obvious borders. The list is in alphabetical order, not ranked.
Here we go!
Still the all-time leading scorer in Marshall High School basketball history, Shannon Bolden parlayed that into a successful four-year run at the University of Minnesota. There she went to four straight NCAA Tournaments, including three Sweet 16s and a Final Four appearance in 2004. Her older sister Stephanie played four years of college basketball at South Dakota State, where she was on the 2004 NCAA Division II National Championship roster.
Rick, Ben, Dave, Tom, Luke, Jim, Jake, Mike, Jordan, Donny. From the 1990s to last season, there had been a Bothun on the Dawson-Boyd/Lac Qui Parle Valley/Montevideo United wrestling roster. Ten brothers in all, they set a record for most wrestling wins by a set of brothers in state history, finishing with 719 wins. They also have a younger sister Mary who is currently a sophomore on the girls basketball team.
The Boumans were involved in multiple sports growing up in Ruthton. Oldest brother Shane was a three-year starting quarterback at South Dakota State University and passed for over 4,500 yards in his career. Troy chose the hardwood at SDSU, where he scored 948 career points. Todd started out on the South Dakota State basketball team, but transferred to St. Cloud State to play football. As the Huskies’ quarterback, he passed for 4,354 yards and 30 touchdowns. He turned that into a 14-year career in the National Football League. All three brothers were interested in fastpitch softball too. In fact, Shane has been coaching the sport for 16 years and is currently the head softball coach at Indiana State University.
Like the Bothuns above, wrestling is a family affair for the Bullermans. But really, it’s more than one group of siblings. But for this column’s purpose, it all started back in the 1970s, with brothers Doug, David, Delbert, Dale and Dean. Doug has coached youth wrestling in Adrian for 40 years, while the other four brothers all have kids who either went through the Adrian wrestling program or are in it today. There are two Bullermans on this year’s Dragons roster, and the program has had as many as eight in the lineup at one time. But it all traces back to those five brothers.
(Jackson County Central)
They played multiple sports growing up in Jackson, but around Marshall the Burmeister name is synonymous with Southwest Minnesota State University volleyball. The last time Terry Culhane and the Mustangs didn’t have a Burmeister on the roster was 2008. Since then, Brooke and Whitney have gone through the program and Kaylee just wrapped up her sophomore season in December. That means by the time Kaylee graduates, a decade will have passed with the Burmeister family involved in the SMSU program.
It’s hard to talk about baseball in or around Milroy without the name Dolan coming up. There are many sibling groups I could bring up, but again I’ll go back to the beginning with the seven sons of John Dolan Sr. Six of them played town ball for Milroy, including the famed all-Dolan infield of Jack at first base, Louis at second base, Spike at shortstop and Joe at third base. That group played together during the summers of 1947 and 1948.
Probably not a name that instantly comes to mind, but Herb and Erv Mikkelson was another one of the first sets of siblings to make a mark in sports across the region. When Herb graduated from CHS in 1947, he was the first Lancers basketball player to score 1,000 career points. He was also a wide receiver on Canby’s 1946 football team that finished with an undefeated season. Erv passed his brother, scoring 1,345 career points in basketball at center for the 1951 state runner-up team. He twice qualified for state track and field in the high jump and was a key member of the second-ranked CHS football team in 1950. In 1976, Erv was inducted into St. Olaf College’s Athletic Hall of Fame.
It’s hard enough for one person to become a professional athlete, but when two from the same family accomplish that, it’s quite a feat. That’s exactly what Jeff and Chari Nordgaard did after successful high school and college careers. Jeff was drafted by and played a season with the NBA’s Milwaukee Bucks and later in played Italy while Chari played one season professionally in Greece. Both are still high in the basketball record books at the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay, each scoring over 1,900 career points in college.
Pudenzes (Red Rock Central)
The Pudenz family called Jeffers home, but for an entire decade it would’ve been understandable for them to change the family address to Grand Forks, North Dakota. That’s where Tracey, Tiffany and Jaime Pudenz each spent their college basketball careers at the University of North Dakota. In the 10 seasons the sisters played, UND posted a 264-37 record, won five North Central Conference titles and three Division II national championships. When Jaime graduated in 2000, the sisters were all in the school’s Top 12 in career scoring and Top 6 in career assists.
It’s not easy for a town of under 500 people to be known statewide, but that’s exactly what Curt, Cody and Casey did for Ellsworth. The most well-known is Cody, who graduated high school as a two-time state champion and the state’s all-time leading scorer. He moved on to Augustana College in Sioux Falls, where he became the Vikings’ all-time leading scorer, as well. He’s since been passed on that list by younger brother Casey, who finished his Augustana career with over 2,000 points and nearly 1,000 rebounds. Oldest brother Curt played collegiately at Northwestern College in Orange City, Iowa, where he scored over 2,000 points, grabbed almost 500 rebounds and helped his team to four NAIA national tournament appearances and two Final Four berths.
All total, that’s 10 groups of siblings. I could’ve gone longer, but I’m sure my 1,300-plus words of text have already taken up too much of your day (if you’re even still reading this).
In my time at the Independent, I’ve also noticed some other sets of siblings who have a chance to be in a similar discussion down the road. And I’m sure there’s some ridiculous family genes being developed that I haven’t even thought about.
So hopefully, I’ve encouraged some siblings somewhere to get off the couch, get outside and start playing one-on-one or throwing a football around in the back yard. You never know what will come of it!