Jim Woster

Jim Woster

In 1988 my daughter, Michelle, was a senior at Lincoln High School and looking forward to graduation, when the Lincoln girls basketball team played Yankton for the AA state championship at the Corn Palace in Mitchell. One of Michelle’s closest friends was Nicole Theophilis, the daughter of our next door neighbor and our closest friends. Nicole also started for the Lincoln girls.

The Woster clan attended many games, including the championship, which Yankton won in a wonderful high school happening. John Egan, the legendary sports writer for the Argus Leader, wrote, and I paraphrase, “girls high school basketball just made huge leap in this state. Look out South Dakota.”

South Dakota State’s women just competed in their ninth NCAA tournament, advancing to the Sweet 16 for the first time this year. The Jackrabbit ladies also took part in three Division 2 tournaments, winning the national championship in 2004.

The Coyote women’s team has not been competing for the same length of time at the Division 1 level but already they have played in two NCAA Division 1 tournaments and two NIT tournaments, winning the NIT national championship just a few years ago.

One can’t write about women’s hoops in our state without including Augustana and Northern State, both of whom have won so many big post-season games. Each team led by two of the finest coaches anywhere in the country: Dave Krauth and recently retired Curt Fredrickson, respectively.

If a person scans the rosters of those schools you will find literally hundreds of young women from this immediate region, and very importantly, you will find academic excellence which is surpassed by few in the nation, regardless of the institution.

Thirty-five years ago, when the SDSU women played at 6 p.m. and the men at 8, I would time my departure from Sioux Falls to arrive at Frost Arena about the end of the third quarter of the women’s game. The more I came to appreciate coach Nancy Neiber’s ladies and the excellent basketball they played, the earlier I arrived. Ultimately, I found myself “running late” if I was not in my seat in time for the National Anthem at 5:55 p.m. Women’s basketball at Frost Arena became very special not just to the old cattle guy but to 2,000 other fans.

I want to dig into a topic of continued and growing interest not only in this region but across the country and that is the destruction and personal agony which is a part of the historic flooding in many parts of the Tri-State Neighbor region. Areas of South Dakota have been hit hard and certain parts of Iowa even harder. However, from everything we see and hear in news reports and conversations with good friends in the middle of the mess, Nebraska is the worst.

Dave Theophilus, the neighbor I mentioned earlier, spent his pre-retirement life with the National Weather Burea and now lives in Freemont. He has kept us abreast of their flooding situation. Even with the photos and commentary, it is impossible to understand or relate to the devastation in the Cornhusker State.

If you missed the column written by our general manager, Mike Wood, in the last issue, please go back and read it. Mike lived in Grand Forks during their “500 year” flood and now resides in Tekamah, Nebraska. Mike writes that the current situation is something he has “never seen before.”

Very importantly he has challenged all of us with a call to action, listing several ways that any of us can help, including personal donations. You know me and my feelings regarding the power of prayer and good thoughts. Sometimes, however, cash becomes almost as important.

When a person has been doing this for as long as I have, it is easy to forget the power of publications such as the Midwest Messenger and the Tri-State Neighbor, both of which are a part of Lee Agri-Media. Thanks, Mike, for the reminder. Thanks, also, to everyone who has donated hay, provided trucks, mailed a check or, yes, said a prayer. Know that you are making a difference.

Jim is associate editor of Tri-State Neighbor and also works with the SDSU Alumni Foundation.