When a young man named Bob McDonald was hired for his first coaching job with the boys basketball team at McGregor High School in the 1955-56 season, it’s a pretty safe bet that he wasn’t thinking about the 2018-19 season.
McDonald, of course, went on to a storied career that included 53 years at Chisholm, more than 1,000 victories and induction into the National High School Hall of Fame. And 63 years later, he has grandkids doing big things in the same profession.
The family history is familiar. Bob’s four sons and two daughters all became basketball coaches. Currently, Mike (Cambridge-Isanti), Joel (Hibbing) and Tom (Ely) coach high school boys teams and Paul is in his final season coaching the men’s team at Vermilion Community College in Ely before retirement. Bob and his late wife Darlene’s daughters, Sue and Judy, are former high school basketball coaches.
And now the third generation…
Sue and her husband Neil Tesdahl, along with other family members, were at Hopkins High School’s Lindbergh Center for Saturday’s Breakdown Tipoff Classic, an annual hoops hotbed featuring 16 games on two courts. Sue is the former girls coach at Crosby-Ironton and Neil is a longtime boys assistant there to Hall of Famer Dave Galovich, but the Class 2A Rangers were not involved in this event. The Tesdahl contingent was focused on back-to-back Class 4A games: Hopkins vs. Lakeville North and East Ridge vs. Prior Lake.
That’s because Brock Tesdahl, 25, is an assistant coach at Hopkins and Bryce Tesdahl (pictured), 28, is the head coach at East Ridge. They are sons of Sue and Neil and grandsons of Bob McDonald. The day began with East Ridge ranked No. 1 in Class 4A by Minnesota Basketball News and Hopkins No. 2. There will be some adjustments in this week’s rankings, with East Ridge losing to Prior Lake 70-62 and Hopkins defeating Lakeville North 78-72.
“You can tell they come from coaching stock,” said Hopkins coach Ken Novak Jr., another member of the Minnesota Basketball Coaches Association Hall of Fame. Novak hired Brock four years ago after he finished his college career at Bemidji State; the young man coaches the Royals sophomore team and assists the varsity.
“He’s a great kid, he’s a hard worker, he really invests in kids, he gets to know them,” Novak said. “He puts in a lot of time, more time than he needs to. He does a good job.”
Bryce, who also played at Bemidji State, was a graduate assistant at Minnesota-Duluth for two years, followed by two years as the head coach at New Prague. He’s now in his second season at East Ridge. Like his brother, he said he never really thought about doing anything other than teaching and coaching.
“When you’re born into it, there’s not really another decision,” he said. “I think it’s one of the most rewarding careers that you can be in, and obviously Grandpa McDonald set a pretty good note for us to follow. Then you’ve got mom and dad doing the same thing, and you’re living in the gym, living in the classroom and you’re always around the school. It was just so fun for me. When I went into college coaching, I was just missing something in my life. When I got back to high school, I felt like I was at home.”
Brock (pictured), who also is an assistant volleyball coach at Hopkins, said, “It’s been instilled in our family, coaching and teaching. That’s what we grew up with. We were gym rats, going to our mom and dad’s practices, it’s in our blood. I can’t imagine doing anything else.”
The Tesdahl brothers coached against each other a week earlier, when East Ridge defeated Hopkins 74-65 in a season-opening game. After the Tipoff Classic both teams are 2-1.
“Last week was kind of fun, because I grew up always competing against Bryce,” said Brock. “Going head to head with him, it was a great game, a great matchup.”
The busy coaching brothers keep in touch mainly via texts. Eighty-four-year-old Grandpa McDonald – who resides with his wife Carol at an assisted-living facility in Chisholm -- isn’t much for texting or emails, but he keeps up on his kids’ and grandkids’ teams via family word of mouth.
Two more McDonald coaching notes…
--Mike’s son Rhett is the head boys basketball coach at Duluth East.
--In recent days, a Hibbing High School senior named Abbey McDonald reached the 2,000-career-point mark and signed a letter of intent with St. Cloud State. Her dad (Joel) is rightfully proud and her grandpa McDonald is surely beaming, too.Follow John on Twitter: @MSHSLjohn