Mitchell's Dave and Maxine Tronnes inducted in inaugural SDAHA Hockey Hall of Fame class
“It was tremendous. It was awe-inspiring,” Dave Tronnes said of being inducted. “For Maxine and I to be a part of the inaugural class of the hockey hall of fame is such an honor.”
MITCHELL — When Dave Tronnes walks into the hockey rinks in Mitchell, he can remember the early days.
He can remember the days of building locker rooms and playing outside before Mitchell hockey had a sheet of ice to call its own, with the self-imposed rule: "If it was 19-below, we practiced; If it was 20-below, we didn’t practice."
Now, some 30 years later, Tronnes and his late wife Maxine are members of the inaugural class of the 2023 South Dakota Amateur Hockey Association Hall of Fame. The two were inducted Friday night in Sioux Falls as a part of the 15-member class.
“It was tremendous. It was awe-inspiring,” Tronnes said of the event. “For Maxine and I to be a part of the inaugural class of the hockey hall of fame is such an honor and humbling to be included in a group of 15 people that have done so much for hockey in South Dakota.”
The two were inducted as “builders” and were integral to the foundation of Mitchell hockey. When he and his family moved to Mitchell from Minnesota in 1990, he drove with his oldest son Sam to Huron for practice three nights a week since there was no organized hockey in Mitchell.
Once his second and third son decided they wanted to play hockey, though, Dave decided to make a change.
“I said, ‘We’re not doing this forever,’” he recalled of making the trek to Huron. “There was a group of four of five of us guys that got together. We started out, we got some boards, we got permission to put them up in Munroe Park, and we’d go out there at midnight and start flooding the ice to make sure they could skate and it just kind of grew from there.”
From fundraisers and sponsors, the Mitchell Skating and Hockey Association (MSHA) was able to build the first of two sheets of ice in Mitchell.
Dave served as the president of MSHA from 1994-2000, as well as the president of the South Dakota Amateur Hockey Association from 2001-07. On top of that, he served on the board of directors for USA Hockey for six years.
As for his wife, Maxine was a scheduler and administrator for SDAHA from 2001-18, scheduling as many as 600 games a year at times, Dave said. She also provided administrative support to set up the MSHA, serving as a registrar and scheduler. Her children accepted the nomination for her Friday, but Maxine, who died in 2019, wasn’t necessarily one for fanfare.
“She would probably have had a problem with it because she was a very humble, very quiet person. All the attention, I don't think she would have liked, quite honestly,” Dave said. “It was just so impressive and so emotionally challenging just to keep my composure because she was a wonderful person and she worked so hard for the state.”
Even today, Dave is still involved with hockey in the Mitchell area. He is involved with the Sam Tronnes Memorial Foundation, which gives a scholarship each year in memory of his late son, and for the past five years, it’s gone to a Mitchell hockey senior. On top of that, he has helped to form a blue line club, which aims to help raise money to “support the cost of hockey” in Mitchell for things such as new equipment, building maintenance and lowering the cost to players.
His family remains heavily involved in hockey, too, which he said is what he’s really proud of today.
His son, Ben, is the associate general counsel for USA Hockey in Colorado Springs, Colorado. And throughout South Dakota, his son, Chris, serves as the head coach of the Marlins girls team, while his daughter, Lisa, coaches in Yankton.
The impact both Dave and Maxine Tronnes made on Mitchell hockey is one that’s still felt today, and one that will be felt, and remembered, for years to come.
“It’s just taken off. And MSHA has gotten so strong and hockey’s gotten so strong,” Tronnes said. “I’m just very proud every time I go into the arena.”