The Grinde family has officially left its mark on the Spring Grove boys basketball program. The last week of January was a record-setting one for head coach Wade Grinde and his son, Chase Grinde.

It’s fitting that the two of them would set their records during the same timeframe since the game means a lot to them both individually and as a family.

Coach Grinde picked up his career coaching win number 400 with a win over the Waukon, Iowa, team on Monday, Jan. 23.

A couple nights later, Chase became the school’s career scoring leader during with a win over Lyle/Pacelli.

In separate conversations regarding each milestone, both father and son were quick to credit others for helping them to succeed on the court.

“Well, you do pause for a minute, and you get a lot of flashbacks of the players you’ve coached over the years,” said Coach Grinde.

“The moments that you had with those players are so special. Those moments with the coaching staff are special too, as I’ve had two of my best friends – Al Lochner and Dave Konz – coaching with me for 21 years. It’s incredibly rare.”

Grinde said his wife, Sarah, jokes about the fact that the three men have been coaching together as long as the two of them have been married.

He added while laughing, “When you look at it, it’s kind of like a second marriage.”

Sports were key growing up

Teaching and coaching weren’t something that Grinde just fell into. He knew back in high school what his career choice would be, so there wasn’t any need to change majors once he got to college.

Grinde said he was fortunate to grow up with great coaches and role models in the Thief River Falls area.

“Even as a high schooler, I would do things like helping second graders with their physical education,” Grinde said, “and I would go help coach junior high football. I just knew that was what I was going to do.”

He said sports were his life as a kid, refusing to go on family vacations because he didn’t want to miss baseball practice.

Grinde said he loved all the sports, adding that when guidance counselors ask kids what they want to do, the first question is ‘What are you most interested in?’ He loved sports, and he knew what he wanted to do.

Grinde spent the first year of his college basketball career at the University of North Dakota before transferring and spending some time back home at Northland Community College in Thief River Falls.

He then got a full scholarship to finish his college career at Mayville State University in Bismarck, N.D.

Spring Grove first coaching job

“Right away, when I was applying for jobs, I was printing my resume and looking at the job description in Spring Grove,” Grinde said. “I sent in my application and told my buddies, ‘This is the job I’m gonna get.’”

The job opening was for a fifth-grade teaching position with coaching football and basketball available. Grinde said that was right up his alley.

“I came down to Spring Grove, did the interview; I got in the car to drive home and knew I got the job,” Grinde said. “I got the call that weekend saying they were offering me the job, and I’ve been here ever since.”

Coming off a successful playing career, Grinde said there were some lessons to be learned as a brand-new head coach.

“You think you’ve got the game figured out as a player,” Grinde said, “but it’s a lot different when you come into a gym, grab a whistle, and now it’s your job to teach the game.

“I’ll be honest, I don’t think I was a very good coach at that time. I had a lot to learn.”

Grinde said he learned a lot the first time he went to play against Rushford-Peterson. He remembers the Trojans beating up on the Lions during that game, and he has learned a lot of lessons facing Rushford-Peterson.

“I consider Tom Vix (R-P boys’ coach) one of my mentors in coaching,” Grinde said.

“Over the years, he and I have developed a great relationship, mostly out of my respect for him and what I’ve learned from them by basically getting beat over the years.”

Advice from father

There are a lot of lessons a young coach must learn during the early years to have success in later seasons. The most important lesson that Grinde learned early in his career came from his father, who was not a sports fan nor athlete.

“I called up my dad after coaching JV, and we had just been beaten badly in a tournament,” Grinde said.

“I told my dad, ‘I don’t know if I’m good at this. I don’t know if I’m cut out to be a coach. I just can’t get through to these guys. I don’t know if they see the game the way I do. Things that are difficult for these guys as players came naturally to me.’”

Grinde said he got the best advice from someone who never coached or played the game. “He just said, ‘What’s the most important part of the game you have to work on?’

“At that time, it was ball handling. We were getting pressed and couldn’t dribble with our eyes up or with our left hands. He said, ‘Just figure out what the most important part is and start there.’”

Grinde said he brought things back to the basics with that advice, saying his dad was incredibly intelligent with a lot of common sense. He didn’t know anything about coaching basketball, but it was still the best coaching advice he ever got.

Grinde’s advice to young coaches mirrors that advice.

“Don’t try to do everything,” he said. “Don’t try to be something you’re not. Focus in on the basics. The more years I’ve been coaching, the simpler I try to keep things.”

Many highlights over decades

Grinde said he’s had a lot of great moments at Spring Grove. He said they’ve had a lot of milestones in terms of just building a good program.

His peers have recognized the quality program he has built over the years. Grinde has four times been voted Section One Coach of the Year. He has also won 11 conference championships and two sub-section titles.

His current 404 wins (as of 2/5/17) and .720 winning percentage are both the best of any varsity boys basketball coach at Spring Grove.

Grinde is humble though and talks about the kids. His memories go all the way back to the elementary students playing well in Pacesetter tournaments.

It may not come as a big surprise to anyone that one of the biggest highlights is getting to coach his son, Chase.

“Parents will attest to this that when you have kids involved in a lot of activities, you just don’t see them a lot,” Grinde said.

“You might have them home for dinner one night a week and may never really see them otherwise. Luckily for me, I go to the gym, and he’s there every day. I cherish that time I get to spend with him.”

Chase has been in the gym with his dad since he could walk, spending time as a team manager. Coach Grinde said the opportunity to have a hand in the player he’s become is special.

He did say it’s not always easy to be a coach’s kid, so there have been some highs and lows as his standards for Chase are higher than the other players, just because he knew what Chase was capable of.

When Chase recently set the school career scoring record, Grinde said one word came to mind – pride!

“You’re obviously proud of him, but he’d be the first one to tell you he’s had a chance to play with very good players,” Grinde said.

“That’s the beauty of Spring Grove,” he added. “These kids are just really good kids. I could count on one hand over 22 years the number of kids I’ve had whose character wasn’t up to par. That’s what makes coaching here pretty easy.”