Everyone who knew Jon Noreen was devastated when news of his death circulated over the weekend. The 67-year-old retired educator and coach touched countless lives over his career, and he will be missed by many. He died unexpectedly at his home in Avon on Friday.
Jon was well-known statewide for his career as the girls basketball coach at Albany High School. His teams had a record of 476-186 in his 26 years as head coach (he began his coaching career at Elgin-Millville High School), Albany went to state seven times and won a Class 2A state title in 2008. Jon was inducted into the Minnesota Girls Basketball Coaches Association Hall of Fame in 2010. He retired from coaching in 2011 so he could watch his three daughters play college basketball.
There is quite a story to that 2008 state championship, and that’s what I will remember most about Jon. At a time when some coaches would have screamed and hollered, Jon did none of that. Here’s what happened…
In the 2007 state championship game, Albany lost to Pipestone 50-49. There was controversy about the winning shot for the Arrows, a three-pointer with 16 seconds to play. During the awards ceremony, replays shown on the video screens at Target Center made it clear that the three-pointer was actually a two-pointer, meaning the score should have been 49-49 at that point.
Afterwards, Coach Noreen was calm. He could have ripped into the officials, but he didn’t. He knew that a lot of things can happen during the course of a game, and what’s most important is how you react to it.
“A game isn't lost on a last-second shot,” he said. “I plan to use this for our kids as a strong, teachable moment. I will use this game as an example for teams to come. It’s part of being successful.”
The good news came a year later when the Huskies won their state title. Jennie Noreen, the youngest of Jon and and Lynette Noreen’s three basketball-playing daughters (along with three sons), was a senior on that 2008 gold-medal team. Jennie, who started on four state tournament teams, scored a game-high 18 points and went 6-for-6 from the free-throw line down the stretch to seal the championship victory over Jordan.
“To win a state title with my last daughter -- that's something special,” Jon said.
Jennie and Joanne Noreen played basketball at Minnesota State Mankato and Darby played at the College of St. Benedict.
A memorial service will be held Saturday in Albany.
Here is the obituary…
A memorial service for Jon Noreen will be held at 2:00PM, Saturday, February 9, at Our Savior’s Lutheran Church in Albany. A visitation will take place at 1:00PM until the time of service. A Celebration of Life at Shady’s reception hall will follow the service. Jon died unexpectedly at his home on Friday. Arrangements are being made by the Miller-Carlin Funeral Homes.
Jon was born October 18, 1951 in St. Paul to Clarence “KY” and Darlene (Sherburn) Noreen. He graduated from Edina High school and attended Mankato State University and earned a degree in Education. He married Lynette Kretchman on July 31, 1982 in Bloomington. He taught and coached football and basketball at the Elgin-Millville High School before moving to Albany in 1987, where he taught Fine Arts and coached the Girls Basketball Team.
He was the head coach for the Albany Girls Basketball Team for 26 years where he had a record of 476 – 186. He led his teams to 15 West Central Conference championships, 11 sub-section Championships, four section Runner-ups and seven State Tournament appearances, winning the state championship in 2008. During his 32 years of coaching basketball, he was named MGBCA Section Coach of the Year three times. During the summers, Jon would travel to Australia with boys and girls basketball players to play in an international basketball tournament. Jon’s teams won the Down Under Classic three times in the 12 years of going to Australia. In 2010, Jon was inducted into the Minnesota Girls Basketball Coaches Hall of Fame. Jon retired from Albany in 2011 then returned for another year of teaching. In 2016, he was named the women's basketball coach at St. Cloud Technical and Community College.
Jon bred and trained labrador retrievers and he owned “Gunnars Kennel” in Avon. Jon was an avid hunter and fisherman. He loved spending time with his family, especially his growing number of grandchildren. Jon was excited to spend the summers fishing and boating with the grandchildren and watching them grow.
Jon is survived by his wife, Lynette, Avon; his children; Jake (Carly) Noreen, Hampstead, NC; Darby Noreen, Willmar: Joanne (Tony) Thomason, Peoria, IL; Seth Noreen, Minneapolis; Jennie (Steven) Helget, Mankato; Zach (Tatum) Noreen, Albany; 10 grandchildren and his sister, Karen (Dan) Carlson, Bloomington.
He is preceded in death by his parents and his sister, Jana Lynn Noreen.--Follow John on Twitter @MSHSLjohn and hear him on Minnesota Public Radio.