One thing I have learned is that good friends have other good friends. This is a series of stories about “friends of my friends”. The post below is the story for March 17, 2015.
My goal in 2015 is to learn or get re-acquainted with 365 people and doing a daily post on the “the friend of a friend” is helping me get closer to my goal.
Today is St. Patrick’s Day and I have lots of good memories about this special day. I grew up in an Irish Catholic household so the day was sacred to my parent’s especially my mom. On a few rare occasions my mom would accompany her sisters into New York City to watch the St. Patrick’s Day Parade.
I have had some good times with friends in North Carolina. There is one memorable St. Patrick’s Day party on Maple St. in Lumberton NC hosted by Dave and Amy Vandenberg to celebrate their son’s birthday (March 17th) I will never forget. The house is no longer there but when I drive by the vacant lot I always smile.
For me as a college basketball coach March 17th often found away from home recruiting or attending national tournaments. From 1987 to 1992 I was on the NAIA National Basketball Coaches Committee and got to be good friends with Terry Gibbons who at the time was the Head Basketball Coach at Western State University in Gunnison, Colorado from 1985-1989. The NAIA tournament was held in Kansas City each year in Kemper Arena and the dates always coincided with St. Patrick’s Day. As a member of the Coaches Committee I was expected to attend.
In 1989 Terry left Western State and became the Assistant Coach to Ken Anderson at Wisconsin Eau Claire. Back in the 1980’s and early 1990’s Wisconsin Eau Claire was a fixture at the N.A.I.A National Tournament.
Wisconsin Eau Claire is one of those small colleges that have a rich tradition in the sport of basketball. Prior to Terry being named Head Coach the two previous coaches were NAIA Hall of Fame coach Bill Zorn, who headed the program for 40 years (1928-68) and finished with a 397-357 record, and Ken Anderson, who headed the program for 27 years (1968-95) and posted a 631-152 mark.
The Wisconsin Eau Claire fans also followed their team to Kansas City, MO each year they were in the NAIA Tournament which was often. The seven years (1985-1992) I was the Head Coach at UNC Pembroke the BluGolds from Wisconsin Eau Claire were in the National Tournament. I was always amazed when the fan busses pulled up to the hotel that they had more cases of Old Milwaukee Best and Schlitz than they did luggage.
Terry and I hoisted a few beers each St. Patrick’s Day in area taverns located on the Plaza in KC. He was a good Irishman to be with on those special days. He also was a good coach and he learned a lot from his mentor Ken Anderson.
The Friend –TERRY GIBBONS
The Friend of the Friend-KEN ANDERSON
A Wisconsin College Basketball Coaching Legend – Ken Anderson
Wisconsin Badgers have a number 1 seed in the 2015 Division I tournament but their head coach Bo Ryan is not the only college basketball coaching legend in the state.
The Wisconsin Eau Claire Blugolds won 14 men’s basketball conference titles and competed in the NAIA tournament 15 times under Ken Anderson’s 27 year watch as head coach. The winner of 631 games, he has an unbelievable won-loss percentage of winning over 80 percent of his games.
Anderson was named Coach of the Year in the NAIA on three separate occasions, the first in 1972, and again in 1980 and 1981. He served as the head coach for the USA National Team that competed in the 1979 World University Games in Mexico City, bringing home the gold medal for the USA Team. In 1978, he assisted with the USA National team at the National Sports Festival. Coach Anderson was a member of the selection committee that assembled the 1988 Olympic Team coached by Georgetown’s John Thompson.
Anderson was inducted into the NAIA Basketball Hall of Fame in 1990. He is also a member of the Blugold Hall of Fame and the Wisconsin Basketball Coaches Hall of Fame. He is married to Gloria (Jensen) and has two grown children, Jeff and Wendy.
In 1995, the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire hosted a salute to Coach Ken Anderson, with long-time supporters and many of his former players in attendance. One by one, the testimonials to his success described his passion and commitment not only to the game of basketball, but to his players, coaches and fans of the game.
On Saturday February 4, 2012 the basketball court at Zorn Arena at UW-Eau Clare became officially known as Ken Anderson Court.
Great tribute video on Ken Anderson is found below: