By Jennie Zeitler, Staff Writer
Brad Goodwin’s clearest memory of the final moments in the Belgrade-Brooten-Elrosa (BBE) High School Class A boys basketball championship game is seeing his son, Brian, stand still, holding the ball in his hands for the last few seconds of the game, with a big smile on his face.
“After the buzzer I just sat on the bench and watched the celebration, to soak it all in,” Brad said. “I got to watch my kids cut nets down.”
Brad Goodwin has coached basketball at every level. He assisted in college, then spent 12 years with high school coaching. He has been with the elementary school for 17 years, and is now the assistant coach at BBE High School.
After going into the 2011 championship game unbeaten, it was wrenching to lose. But BBE had a perfect season this year and gathered quite a following.
During one game, senior Connor Goodwin fell onto some elderly ladies when he reached to save a ball, and heard later from people sitting near, that one of the ladies exclaimed, “I touched him.”
The Goodwin men have lived lives steeped in basketball. Sophomore Brian remembers playing with a Fisher-Price hoop at home even before kindergarten.
Brad has been a basketball person his whole life. “Basketball taught me so many things,” he said, “more than any textbook did. To see this result is the accumulation of all those experiences.”
“And this group of young men just ‘get it’ — they know what it is about,” said Brad.
As far as the Goodwins are aware, there has never before been an unbeaten season in Brooten or Belgrade history, before or after the schools consolidated.
“Going to state was our year-long goal — the chance was good — but we still had to do the work,” Brad said.
The basketball team’s fans regularly packed the gym, and not just at home games. The fans followed the team to every away game.
“I saw people coming to games, I haven’t seen in years,” he said. “I think we had close to more fans in Pierz than they did.”
One of the highlights of the past season for Connor was the night he made his 1,000th career point, on Feb. 2, against New London-Spicer.
“It was a home game,” Connor said. “The game stopped, and the coach talked about me and gave me the ball, and I ran up to give it to my mom.”
When asked what it meant to be playing basketball with their dad coaching, Brian said, “It’s good to have him there when we play; he always gives good advice.”
Connor said, “It’s been a lot of fun playing when Dad’s there. He knew just what kind of tips to give us.”
One of Connor’s most meaningful memories was getting to play with his older brother, Matt, when he was a sophomore, and then playing with his younger brother, Brian, when he was a senior.
“All three of the boys were on the court at the same time during a summer scrimmage in Sauk Centre one year,” said Brad.
“And there was also a pair of brothers on the team. At one point, the five of these boys were on the floor at the same time,” he said.
Brian’s favorite aspect of playing basketball is simply being with his teammates, friends he’s known pretty much his whole life. “Getting to go out and play with them is what makes it good,” he said.
Connor sees the satisfaction in taking all the hard work from practice and showing people what the team can do.
But there are funny moments too. During one game, Connor was bending over to pick up a ball and accidentally kicked it out of bounds, something he can laugh about now.
He has been recruited by the University of Wisconsin – Superior for Division III basketball, and is looking forward to starting practice in August.
Regarding next year’s team, Brian said, “It would be nice to go back to state. We’ll see what next year brings.”
“I just hope it’s a lot of fun for them,” Brad said. “Sometimes I wonder if people are going to expect too much; they’re just young men. After going 65-1 for two years, people have forgotten what it’s like to lose.”
The final tally on the scoreboard is clearly not the most important thing for Brad Goodwin. “I like watching these kids grow up and become young men,” he said, “talking to them years later when they have their own kids.”