Corsica/Stickney coach Mike Tuschen reflects on 400 winsSTICKNEY — Mike Tuschen said he’s gathered many great memories on his way to 400 wins. Thursday night, the Corsica/Stickney boys’ basketball team defeated Menno 58-35 to give its head coach the milestone victory.
By: Luke Hagen, The Daily Republic
STICKNEY — Mike Tuschen said he’s gathered many great memories on his way to 400 wins.
Thursday night, the Corsica/Stickney boys’ basketball team defeated Menno 58-35 to give its head coach the milestone victory.
“Working with all the great athletes and all the people in the community over the last 28 years, those have just been great memories for me for my lifetime,” said Tuschen, a Mount Vernon High School graduate who started coaching in Stickney in 1986. His career record is 400 wins and 204 losses and is 22nd in career total high school boys’ basketball wins in the state. He is fourth among active coaches, behind Custer coach Larry Luitjens, McCook Central/Montrose coach Bill Marquardt and Winner coach Jim Drake. Luitjens tops the boys’ list with more than 720 career wins.
Tuschen led Stickney to a state title in 2002 when his son, Aaron, was on the team. In 2011, Tuschen coached the cooperative Corsica/Stickney to a state championship in its second year of existence.
Tuschen is a Dakota State graduate who now teaches business and computer classes in Stickney. He got into coaching through summer baseball and said he learned to love working with young athletes.
“I was kind of a sports nut when I was growing up,” Tuschen said. “I really found once I started coaching that I really enjoyed it.”
The head coach was congratulated after Thursday night’s win by his players in the locker room but there was no announcement of the feat after the game. Friday night in Stickney, Tuschen was recognized for the landmark before Corsica/Stickney’s game against Mount Vernon/Plankinton.
While giving a quick speech before the starting lineups were announced, Tuschen thanked the crowd with definite emotion in his voice. Then he received a commemorative basketball from assistant coach Joel Wieczorek after receiving a large ovation from the crowd, which held about 800 people in the small gymnasium.
“I haven’t even been keeping track really this year,” Tuschen said of the win total. “I knew I was getting close because I had to put my record in the Hansen-Anderson book. … But a couple of weeks ago one of the kids said they had been keeping his eye on it. It’s been pretty hush until now.”
Luke Bamberg, now a sophomore on the Dakota Wesleyan University basketball team, played on the 2011 state championship team for Corsica/Stickney. Bamberg, a Corsica native, had Tuschen as head coach for two years, including the first year of the cooperative.
“I thought he was an awesome coach,” Bamberg said. “He was one of those guys where I wished I played more than just two years for him. I learned more and more from him each day he coached me.”
Two other former players called Tuschen one of the best coaches they’ve ever had. Chris Plamp played for Tuschen from 2004 to 2008 and still calls the coach a good friend.
“He got his 300th win in my junior year,” Plamp said. “I’ll never forget the game. We played Mitchell Christian and it was a nail-biter all the way to the end. It was the only time we beat Mitchell Christian when I was there.”
Chad Clites played for Tuschen from 1990 to 1993 and was in attendance Friday night to see him get recognized. Clites was also an assistant for Tuschen in the 2003 and 2004 seasons.
“He was very intense and a very good teacher,” Clites said. “I learned a lot not only about basketball but also about life. He teaches life skills.”
Despite hitting the round-number win total, Tuschen said he doesn’t have a set date when he plans to call it quits.
“I always tell myself that if I’m as enthusiastic and excited about being in practice and games every day as the athletes, or my expectations of my athletes should be, then I feel I can still bring something and be involved as a coach,” Tuschen said. “I don’t know when that gas tank is going to run out. When it does, it’s probably time. If I can’t bring everything I can, then somebody else has to take over.”
After Friday night’s game, Corsica/Stickney is 7-5 this season. Tuschen and the Jaguars host Bon Homme Monday in Stickney in their next game.