“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
Wayzata in Hennepin County, Minnesota — The American Midwest (Upper Plains)

Basketball Fever in Wayzata

Basketball Fever in Wayzata Marker image. Click for full size.
Photographed By J. J. Prats, April 27, 2015
1. Basketball Fever in Wayzata Marker
In 1959, Wayzata was out of the metro area, just small town with Greyhound Bus and Great Northern Railway as public transportation to Minneapolis. The Wayzata School District was mostly rural, made up of seven towns, with Wayzata as the commercial center. The Junior/Senior High School, at the corner of Barry Avenue and Wayzata Boulevard, had only boys’ athletic teams. Wayzata had lost 24 straight basketball games before Jack Thurnblad became coach. One of Jack's smartest ideas was to appoint Norm Schroeder as advance scout.

Jack possessed an intense determination to win, combined with a warm friendship-building personality which was a big hit with the players, their parents, and the Greater Wayzata community. Basketball dominated the sports news. The year's premier sporting event was the State Basketball Tournament which crowned one State Champion. This was the era before the professional teams came to Minnesota, changing the focus of sports.

Wayzata’s ’58-59 team was not as tall as most competitors, nor was it as deep in talent, but it had Jack with one goal at each game: win. 486 teams statewide entered public school
Basketball Fever in Wayzata Marker image. Click for full size.
Photographed By J. J. Prats, April 27, 2015
2. Basketball Fever in Wayzata Marker
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elimination tournaments to determine the eight teams that would “go to State.” Wayzata was the underdog while winning the first games it played. The Minneapolis press began referring to Wayzata as “Cinderella,” yet continued picking its next opponents to win.

After Wayzata defeated much larger Minneapolis area schools for the regional berth in the State Tournament, Wayzata’s Mayor issued a proclamation: “Every place in Wayzata will be closed to cheer the school team on.” Lake area schools hung banners along Lake Street expressing their support for the Wayzata boys. Most merchants in Wayzata painted signs on their windows cheering the team on, and many gave free noisemakers, pompoms and hats to ticket holders. Game tickets were precious. Locals lined up at 4 a.m. outside the school for the 9 a.m. ticket sale. As the three day tournament progressed, teams were eliminated. Resourceful Wayzatans bought their ticket allocation and hustled those back to the school sale, providing Wayzata with the largest share of the 18,501 fans in Williams Arena.

In the Championship game, Wayzata once more came from behind to win, 55-41. The next morning, a 1000 car parade was waiting at the city limits to escort the team into town, with 2000 fans waiting for them at the school. As the small Wayzata community basked in the recognition of being
Basketball Fever in Wayzata Marker image. Click for full size.
Photographed By J. J. Prats, April 27, 2015
3. Basketball Fever in Wayzata Marker
State Champions, Coach Jack was given the keys to the City and many banquets were held around the school district for the team. A tradition was established. In succeeding years, Wayzata would win many State Championships in other sports. It all began with Jack Thurnblad teaching his boys of ’59, “Winners never quit!”
Erected 2014 by Wayzata Historical Society.
Topics. This historical marker is listed in this topic list: Sports. A significant historical year for this entry is 1959.
Location. 44° 58.163′ N, 93° 30.802′ W. Marker is in Wayzata, Minnesota, in Hennepin County. Marker is on Lake Street East (County Highway 16) east of Walker Avenue South, on the right when traveling east. Touch for map. Marker is in this post office area: Wayzata MN 55391, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within 8 miles of this marker, measured as the crow flies. Wayzata Depot (approx. 0.2 miles away); Christmas Lake (approx. 4˝ miles away); Soldiers Memorial (approx. 5.1 miles away); Geology of Lake Minnetonka (approx. 5.2 miles away); In Honor of All Who Served and Those Who Died (approx. 5.2 miles away); Peter M. Gideon (approx. 5.9 miles away); Peter M. Gideon and the Wealthy Apple (approx. 6 miles away); Veterans Monument (approx. 7.7 miles away).
More about this marker. This interpretive panel includes six photographs and the tournament brackets for 1958–’59. Working clockwise from upper left, the third, fifth and sixth photograph are not captioned. The caption of the others is as follows: “This teen hangout in the Fifties was Supplee’s Drug Store soda fountain located at Lake Street and Walker Avenue.” “Wayzata High School State Champions, 1959.” “Jack receives keys to the city from Mayor Kallestad.”
Regarding Basketball Fever in Wayzata. The Wayzata boys basketball
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team would not win a trip to the state tourney again for 58 years. In 2017 they advanced to the Class AAAA semifinals, loosing to Champlin Park 62 to 70.
Also see . . .  Wayzata’s last trip to state in 1959 was ‘no time for a letdown’. 2017 article by Patrick Reusse in the Star Tribune. Excerpt:
Wayzata was a not a suburb in 1959. It was a village on a shore of Lake Minnetonka. It ranked with Mound as the smallest high schools in the nine-team Lake Conference, with a graduating class of 140 in 1959.

“You know how remote it was?” [Ray] Zitzloff said. “You could walk from town with a shotgun and in 10 minutes you’d be hunting in the country.”

It was so remote that my favorite of the photos on the Trojans’ trip to the 1959 state tournament in the Star Tribune’s archives was the team members standing in downtown Wayzata, waving goodbye to the city as if they were off on a trip to Australia.

In actuality, they were headed to the Curtis Hotel in Minneapolis.
(Submitted on February 7, 2021.) 
Credits. This page was last revised on February 7, 2021. It was originally submitted on February 7, 2021, by J. J. Prats of Powell, Ohio. This page has been viewed 99 times since then and 34 times this year. Photos:   1, 2, 3. submitted on February 7, 2021, by J. J. Prats of Powell, Ohio.

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Aug. 17, 2022