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Posted by Guest (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 11/16/2013 3:02:09 PM

Bob McDonald doesn’t plan to spend his retirement winters in Arizona or Florida. He won’t offer any coaching advice to his sons and grandsons who are basketball coaches. He also won’t slow down one little bit during the upcoming boys basketball season, which will be his 59th and final season as a head coach.

I spoke with the 80-year-old Chisholm coach on Saturday morning from the state football playoffs at the Metrodome. He was at home in Hibbing, where his wife Carol was dealing with a cold and Bob was relaxing after announcing Friday that he would coach for one more season and then retire.

“I’ve been watching others’ kids for a zillion years,” he said. “Now I’ve got grandkids and everything else. I felt it was kind of time to step back a little bit and enjoy the game in another vein.”

McDonald is optimistic about the final team he will coach. The Chisholm Bluestreaks return some experienced players; “We’ve got some size and some talent. I think we’ll be all right,” he said. “I think in our section we might be as good as there is, unless we get dumped. I hope I don’t stick my foot in my mouth.”

Bob took teams to state tournaments in 1973, 1974, 1975, 1981, 1982, 1991, 1992, 1995, 2008, 2009 and 2011, with championships in 1973, 1975 and 1991. He will begin the season with 994 career victories, which rank No. 1 all-time in Minnesota and 13th nationally. Among active boys basketball coaches around the country, McDonald is No. 1. (The national record for victories by a high school boys basketball coach is 1,333 by Robert Hughes of Fort Worth, Texas.)

He travels to Croatia (his family’s ancestral home) every summer and plans to spend every winter on the Iron Range even after retiring.

“Going to Florida and that kind of stuff, I’m used to the winter here and I love this country,” he said. “Other people flee to Arizona and elsewhere.”

He said he will be perfectly content to sit in the stands and watch basketball, especially games that involve coaches or players who are his children and grandchildren.

“There are things I want to see; I want to watch basketball instead of coaching it. I might coach from the stands in my own mind. I don’t get involved with my kids’ coaching. I never get involved in their business. I’ll watch games and get a charge out of that.”

He wants his longtime assistant coach, Larry Pervenanze, to succeed him as head coach. That’s a job very few people have held; McDonald is only the third boys basketball coach the Bluestreaks have ever had.

McDonald is definitely old-school, from the jackets and ties his players wear on game days to the striped socks the Bluestreaks have worn as long as anyone can remember.

Ten years ago, I went on a road trip with the Bluestreaks. The journey was a short bus ride from Chisholm to Mountain Iron-Buhl. Here’s an excerpt from my story in the Minneapolis Star Tribune …

“The rules of traveling decorum are clear. On the wall inside the Bluestreaks locker room, McDonald has posted a handwritten seating chart for the bus (including where the driver will sit), and these regulations: "No electronic equipment on bus. No seeds. Keep noise down. No singing or raucous behavior. Stay in assigned seats. No single seating."

McDonald graduated from Chisholm in 1951. After graduating from Minnesota Duluth he began his coaching career at McGregor, where he spent four years followed by two years at Barnum before taking over at his alma mater in the 1961-62 season.

Darlene McDonald, Bob's wife of 43 years, died of cancer in 1997. In 2000 he married Carol Tiburzi, who also had lost her spouse. Bob’s four sons and two daughters all became basketball coaches: Mike is the boys coach at Cambridge-Isanti, Paul coaches the men’s team at Vermilion Community College in Ely, Tom is the boys coach at Ely High School and Joel coaches the boys team at Hibbing High School. Daughters Sue and Judy are former coaches; Sue at Crosby-Ironton and Judy at Fairmont.

Among McDonald’s 17 grandkids, Rhett McDonald is the boys basketball coach at Duluth East and Bryce Tesdahl is a graduate assistant coach at Minnesota Duluth.

Chisholm will open the season next Friday, Nov. 22, with a home game against North Woods.

“I’ll put everything I have into this year,” the coach said.

No one doubts that.


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