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Memory can be replenished with continual reunions

August 16, 2009
By SANDY MICKELSON, Messenger staff writer

Memory does funny things.

When I remember the 1965 varsity basketball team from Eagle Grove, I remember them not in high school, but playing a wicked game during our 20-year class reunion weekend. It wasn't the same, yet it was, and my memory can't sort the difference.

That likely doesn't happen when the Fort Dodge Senior High class of 1971 basketball boys get together, but for a totally different reason.

When these guys get together, the reunion celebrates their prowess on the court when they were sophomores. That year they went 18 and 0 - undefeated. Yikes. Undefeated. It's the only undefeated sophomore class the school has had in the last 60 years.

I'm not just saying that, either. Scott Van Gundy, one of boys in that class, has studied the records to make certain they can keep talking about the undefeated season without fibbing. At least, that's what Don Cook told me.

Cook, who will be 71 on Thursday, coached that sophomore team, boys he'd been coaching since the eighth grade.

It's probably a good thing the men keep coming back to Dodge for annual get-togethers. At his age, Cook could forget this accomplishment if not continually reminded.

Oh, stop groaning. He went to high school and junior college with my uncle, Pete Pitsor, and he's almost 10 years older than I, so I know he's old. He is. Still, the boys let him be part of this reunion, which has happened every year for the last eight.

And because this is the 40th anniversary of the undefeated season, the guys got themselves matching T-shirts to point that out.

Each of the eight years has brought more athletes back to town, many with wife and family in tow. Or girlfriends. And other classmates have started coming, too. They get together on a Friday night, then play golf on Saturday and have another get-together before going back to reality. That happened last weekend.

Teammates, by the way, are Rick Schill, Mark Chardulious, Steve Arnold, Jack LaBaume, Scott Van Gundy, Greg Fallon, Tim Sweeney, Doug Goodrich, Jeff Harris, Jeff Landes, Jim Magnusson, Bruce Peterson, Paul Birocci, Wayne Gordon, Ron Lentsch, Bruce Melco, Tony Salvatore and Steve Slagle. Not all of them get to the reunion, but many do.

Don Cook shows up too, as does Ron Cook, Don's twin. Because coaches couldn't work with basketball team members in the off season, Ron took over, taking the team to big tournaments and winning. Ron's still coaching in Beloit, Wis., but Don's a man of leisure. Go figure.

"It was just a special group of kids," Don says. "A group of talented kids that I worked with for three years. That was the magic of the 18-0 basketball year."

And that's the magic that keeps these men coming home to see one another. They're a group of talented kids who played well together and now they're a group of talented men who still play well together.

That's something to remember.

So long friends, until the next time when we're together.

Contact Sandy Mickelson at (515) 473-2141 or



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