After the Jan. 22 game against Glenville-Emmons, Wade Grinde greets Blaine Storlie following the co-captain’s speech honoring the coach for his 300th career win (Jan. 21 against Fillmore Central) with the Spring Grove boys basketball program. Other players pictured are, left to right, Dustin Vickerman, Brady Schuttemeier, Dylan Kampschroer, Alex Engelhardt, Jordan Jaster and Brandon Schuttemeier.<br /><br /><!-- 1upcrlf2 -->SGH/Jon or Makena Speltz
After the Jan. 22 game against Glenville-Emmons, Wade Grinde greets Blaine Storlie following the co-captain’s speech honoring the coach for his 300th career win (Jan. 21 against Fillmore Central) with the Spring Grove boys basketball program. Other players pictured are, left to right, Dustin Vickerman, Brady Schuttemeier, Dylan Kampschroer, Alex Engelhardt, Jordan Jaster and Brandon Schuttemeier.

SGH/Jon or Makena Speltz
"Nobody outworks us," Wade Grinde said. "That's always been our saying."

Grinde has spent his entire coaching/teaching career at Spring Grove Public School. Last Monday (Jan. 21), he recorded basketball win number 300 when his boys defeated the Fillmore Central Falcons. It was a home game for Grinde's Lions, who honored their coach for his achievement.

It's now the coach's 18th season at the helm. A graduate of Mayville State, he grew up in the Rice Lake County town of Plummer (population 292) in northwestern Minnesota.

"Since the earliest times I can remember, I have been involved in basketball, football and baseball," he recalled last week.

As a matter of fact, Wade met his wife Sarah while he was playing hoops for Mayville State. She played basketball for the Lady Comets; at 5-foot, 3-inches, she was an MSU guard.

"When I applied for this job, it was early spring. I remember the listing coming up for a junior high football and JV/Varsity basketball coach who would also serve as fifth-grade elementary teacher.

"As I was printing off my resume to send it down, I told some of my buddies that this was going to be the job for me. For whatever reason, it just seemed to match up with all of my qualifications.

"I got the job. My wife had a year left at Mayville State, and I had three job offers in my hometown area. But it just felt like this was the right fit for me. Nineteen years later, I'm still here."

Grinde now teaches fourth-, fifth- and sixth-grade social studies.

The couple has three boys in the school where their dad works. Chase is in eighth grade, Caden is in fourth and Tysen is a second grader.

What's a typical Grinde practice like?

Imagine sneakers squeaking, sweat turning players soggy. Coach is running a "Shell D" drill (D is for defense), and he expects to see some effort. He's just gone over the fundamentals, breaking the game down for his boys' understanding.

When a player fails to execute one of those key aspects, Grinde's voice booms: "My grandma could have done that!"

"He teaches the little things," players say.

An aggressive, attacking style characterizes Spring Grove basketball. There aren't any short cuts, no easy roads to winning.

Grinde is a four-time Section 1A Coach of the Year. He leads Lion boys basketball in three categories - most victories, best winning percentage and most conference championships, coaching seven of the program's 13 championship teams. As of last week, his record is 302-141.

While the Lions were tangling with the Falcons, trying to get no. 300 for their coach, Chase was making sure nobody was outworking him on the court.

He won the KFIL Radio Game Ball award, scoring 13 varsity points while earning a team-high seven "hustle points" (awarded for all-out efforts that don't show up in conventional statistics).

"It's kind of a new facet now," Grinde said, "Coaching your own son - seeing how he and the rest of the team are having success. It has a special quality to it.

"The best thing for me is the relationships that I have with my players and the continued relationships that I have with them even after they graduate."

Case in point: Chris Strinmoen is now in his second year as an assistant basketball coach at Spring Grove, where he teaches mathematics. Strinmoen played on Grinde's first basketball team back in 1995-96.

"What it really comes down to and what's unique here at Spring Grove is that I've had my coaching staff in place pretty much forever," Grinde said.

"Gary Strinmoen (Chris' dad) has coached elementary basketball for 18 years. Dave Konz has been with me for 17 years, and Al Lochner has been on board for 16 years (both are assistant coaches).

"It's really a testament to the school as to what great coaching our kids are getting at young ages, from elementary to middle school to junior varsity. We wouldn't be anywhere near as successful if it weren't for those guys.

"We have great continuity in our program, to the point where these guys are my best friends. We finish each other's sentences where basketball is concerned. We spend a lot of time together. I couldn't imagine coaching without them. It just wouldn't be the same."

Spring Grove basketball wouldn't be the same without Grinde, either.