Mitchell resident Jack Theeler to be inducted into South Dakota Sports Hall of Fame today
Growing up, Jill, Tyson and Brett Theeler heard stories of their father’s athletic exploits, but it wasn’t from him.
Jack Theeler, of Mitchell, didn’t talk about his accomplishments on the hardwood, but preferred to work hard and focus on helping his kids reach their goals.
But today, Jack gets his turn to take center stage at the South Dakota Sports Hall of Fame banquet at 5:30 p.m. at the Sioux Falls Convention Center.
Joining Jack Theeler in the 2014 inductee class is Mel Tjeerdsma, a Springfield native, Herb Bartling, Arnold “Nig” Johnson, Jay Dirksen, Dick Callahan, Paul Ferrie and Doug Stanford.
“I am very proud of him,” Brett said of his father. “A lot of the things that I heard about him playing basketball were kind of new to me. I am still learning about his high school playing days in Sisseton because he was never someone to talk about the things he accomplished or dwell on the past.”
Jack is being inducted into the hall of fame for his athletic prowess on the basketball court in South Dakota. As a basketball player at the University of South Dakota, he scored 1,573 points during his career, averaging 21.5 points per game. He also garnered all-North Central Conference honors three consecutive seasons.
“He is such a humble person, father and leader,” Jill said. “It is much deserved. He won’t talk about himself at much length, but he deserves this honor.”
Jack still holds the highest scoring average in a season (26.53 points per game) for a Coyote, which he set during the 1966-67 season. He also starred on the 1963 Sisseton High School basketball team, which claimed the Class A state championship.
“Every era has a handful of special names and he was one of those players for his era,” Tyson said. “He was an outside shooter without a three-point line. He scored 49 points in a college basketball game as an outside shooter without a three-point line. That is pretty hard to do.
“He is also a great father and a great attorney in Mitchell and I am lucky to have him as a role model.”
Tyson and Jill will be in attendance today at the induction along with their mother, Nancy, and other family and friends. Nancy said she is happy people remembered her husband’s basketball accomplishments and she is proud of him. Brett, who lives in Gaithersburg, Md., could not make it to the ceremony.
All three kids, who played sports at Mitchell High School and at the college level, said athletics are a big part of their lives and they have their dad to thank for it.
Tyson and Brett played for the Kernel boys basketball teams under former coach Gary Munsen.
Tyson helped Mitchell win titles in 1990 and 1992, while Brett was a part of the 1994 and 1996 state championship teams.
Jill also won a state championship under Munsen as a member of the 1994 Kernel girls basketball team. She played a vital role on the basketball court, but the track is where she stood out. Jill earned six individual state track titles in her last two years at Mitchell High School.
“I had a lot of fun watching my kids and the next generation compete in sports,” Jack said, adding he wasn’t nervous about giving his speech today in front of other South Dakota greats.
Another area inductee and a Springfield High School graduate, Tjeerdsma, is being recognized for his role in coaching. He coached at Northwest Missouri State and had a 183-43 record, winning three NCAA Division II football national titles.
Tjeerdsma coached in seven Division II national title games and amassed a 32-10 NCAA Division II playoff record. He was also named the American Football Coaches Association’s Division II coach of the year four times during his career, which spanned 25 years.
Tjeerdsma retired in 2010 after guiding Northwest Missouri State to the Division II semifinals.