Senator John Thune
As a young high school basketball player, it was not until this time of year that I would allow myself to start thinking about playing on the biggest stage in South Dakota—the state basketball tournament. I remember the nervous energy in the room as I sat through pep rallies, boarded the bus on the way to district championships, and sat in the locker room minutes before the game. I remember thinking that the extra time I spent practicing free throws, and running sprints, and defensive drills was all worth it for the shot to play at the state “B” basketball tournament.
While I never had the opportunity to play in the state “B” basketball tournament, I know that the leadership, teamwork, and dedication I learned on the court provided me with essential life lessons. These life lessons were also inspired by my time spent in the gym with my father, Harold Thune. My dad, who was a longtime teacher, coach, and athletic director at Murdo, taught each of his kids and players about the importance of hard work and sportsmanship. This year the Murdo Auditorium was renamed after my dad in honor of his lifetime of service to Murdo athletics. This was a special recognition for him and our whole family who grew up playing basketball in the Murdo gym.
Spending time at the state basketball tournaments, I frequently run into some of the athletes I played against in high school who have come to watch their own sons and daughters compete in the state basketball tournament. I know each of them takes pride in seeing their children enjoy and excel at a sport that was meaningful to them. Stories like these form some of the great South Dakota basketball traditions, and bring together families, communities, and schools to celebrate the accomplishments of our student-athletes.I hope that all of the participants in this year’s tournaments take time to enjoy the experience and that each of the communities make it out to support their teams. Good luck to all participants in this year’s tournaments, and I look forward to seeing many South Dakotans at the games.