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OUR VIEW: What's next for Mitchell basketball?

For decades, the Mitchell High School boys basketball program was a perfectly oiled machine that saw regular success. There was always fan interest, support and the team's success was undoubtedly a point of pride for our town. Since the late Gary...

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For decades, the Mitchell High School boys basketball program was a perfectly oiled machine that saw regular success.

There was always fan interest, support and the team's success was undoubtedly a point of pride for our town.

Since the late Gary Munsen coached his final game in March 2012, the Mitchell boys basketball program has won a total of 20 games in five seasons under two head coaches, Tom Young (one season, five wins) and the recently departed Erik Skoglund (four seasons, 15 wins).

Rock bottom hit this year when the Kernels finished the 2016-17 season winless and Skoglund and assistant coaches resigned soon after the final game.

The taste of a tough year still is fresh. The program has no coach or guidance. And community interest and fan support has fallen to an all-time low.

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Have we gone from first to worst? Does it matter?

As a community, we need to consider whether it's important enough to make a big deal out of the rise and fall of the Mitchell boys basketball program.

Do we need to try and restore what was once an envious situation?

Sports are not the most important aspect of a student's life. There's a reason student comes first in the title "student-athlete." Nationwide, only a tiny percentage of those who participate in extracurricular sporting activities go on to play college or professionally.

So, to some, the record each year of the local basketball team is irrelevant.

To others, basketball is the time of year they live for. The sport is king in South Dakota. Our winters are long and the hoops contest is the place to gather for friends, family and community supporters.

When the Kernels are a winning team, the Corn Palace is packed. Community involvement is greater through attendance at games. Booster donations are more fruitful.

When the program had regular success, it gave younger kids something to strive toward. Now, varsity-level players were considering quitting midseason and others didn't even go out for the team. That's not Mitchell boys basketball.

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Pressure will be had for the person who coaches this team because of the legacy the program holds. That's why we as a community need to be supportive of a new coach and encourage players of all ages to practice, practice and practice some more. The Mitchell boys basketball team should not have a revolving door of coaches.

However, the Mitchell community cannot expect decades of continued success like we once had. That expectation is unreasonable.

What we can hope for, though, is a program to be excited about. A program to be involved with. And a team to cheer for.

Related Topics: OUR VIEWBASKETBALL
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