Winsted-Lester Prairie Journal, March 12, 2001
Dean Neumann reaches 300th basketball victory
By Patrice Salmon
Dean Neumann has spent many hours coaching on the basketball court at Holy Trinity High School.
That includes 11 years of girls varsity and 13 years of boys varsity, starting with the 1977-78 season.
Late in the current season, Neumann reached a milestone - his 300th coaching victory.
Coaching high school sports began in a round-about way for Neumann
While in college, where he majored in physical education and health, he thought about teaching and coaching.
During the summer of 1975, while spending the summer working at Littfin Truss Company, he was offered a full-time job there.
Neumann decided that he liked the work he was doing, so he stayed. A couple years later, when a coaching position opened up at Holy Trinity, he got his start.
Only, it wasn't basketball, where he was asked to coach.; it was girls volleyball.
He eventually gave up volleyball, although he enjoyed it, because volleyball is a fall sport, and Littfin is busier in the fall than in the winter.
"Work slows down a little, so basketball works better," said Neumann.
"I've been very fortunate, as far as work goes; they are very understanding," he said.
So, what led to the switch from coaching girls to coaching boys?
"I liked coaching the girls, but thought I'd try coaching the boys for awhile," Neumann said.
"It still involves a lot of time, and to do it right, requires a bit extra," he commented.
The Holy Trinity boys basketball team has had quite a successful season this year. The team finished tied for the Tri-Valley Conference championship with Mayer Lutheran.
When asked about the team's success, Dean replied with one of his cliches: "You have to have the horses to pull the carriage."
He'll readily admits that the coaching job depends on the talent of the kids.
"I'm pleased; we've played some real fine basketball this year," he said.
Neumann isn't sure how long he'll keep coaching, but he does enjoy it.
Holy Trinity doesn't stress summer basketball leagues, and he is a believer in allowing time for baseball, swimming, having fun, and just being a kid.
It's a long season for everyone, he said, and sometimes, it's tough on the kids. They have to balance school, social life, and family.
"You've got to try to keep them focused. Some practices are geared toward the mental, and some are physical, just putting miles on the kids," he said.
There's mental preparation before each game.
Games are different, too - conference, non-conference, upper echelon teams - but getting mentally ready is a necessary part of the game.
"It's an emotional game; we need to play and coach with emotion. The emotional part needs to play, too," Neumann said.
Coaches have different roles. Sometimes they're the coach, sometimes the big brother, sometimes the confidant.
Along with coaching, one must teach that there are consequences for their actions.
Neumann noted there are some differences, emotionally, between coaching boys and girls.
"When girls need to cry, they cry - and there were tears," he said, "but I could sometimes just say something to a guy to get him going, get his mind back in the game, restructure the thinking," said Neumann.
Neumann has received support for many years from Marvin Ebensperger, the boys B-team coach, who gives Neumann the inside track to school issues.
Because Neumann is not a teacher, he doesn't always learn first-hand what happens each day at school, things that might affect the kids' play.
Ebensperger also has the task of making sure the players are varsity-ready.
The freshmen boys team, which started two to three years ago, was first coached by Dave Marquardt, but is now coached by Al Fleischacker.
The earlier programs are in place to build skill levels. The freshmen team plays 15 to 16 games a year, giving the players experience.
"There are quality coaches at all levels," said Neumann.
Neumann also acknowledges the support of his family, especially having an understanding wife.
He brings his children into the picture whenever possible. If he goes scouting another team's game, there have been times the kids have gone with.
When looking at the rewards of the hours, the hard work, and the sometimes emotionally draining work, Neumann said, "You see them step up to the plate, play better than they are; that's fun, to see them do something that maybe they shouldn't have been able to do."
Neumann has coached varsity basketball for more than two decades, boys, and girls combined, has tallied 302 wins, and still says, "It's always fun, but sometimes it's more fun, and some games are more fun."
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