A few months ago, I wrote a column about the Aurelia Atoms' 24-2 State tournament basketball team of 1978, spotlighting Marcia (Winterhof) Klett and her three daughters, whom she has helped coach at Clay Central-Everly High School. I turn my attention now to Marcia's Atom teammates, and see what they've been up to since graduation.
Kris (Peterson) Anderson, the daughter of Harold and Marilee Peterson, was a four-year starter for the Atoms, and is the second leading scorer in Aurelia history. The 5-11 former Atom initially attended college at Southwest Minnesota in Marshall, Minn.,then transferred and graduated from Augustana College in Sioux Falls. She played basketball at both schools, including games at both schools against Marcia's Northwestern College team.
Kris now teaches fourth grade at Woodland Park Elementary School in Norfolk, Nebraska, and her husband, 6-8 Dan Anderson, is an instructor and head coach of the men's basketball team at Northeast Community College in Norfolk. Their youngest daughter, Micaela ("Mickey"), is a junior at Norfolk High School. The 6-1 center averaged 9.45 points and 5.78 rebounds per game this season, as well as blocking 15 shots for the 9-13 Norfolk squad. As good as these stats are, it seems that Mickey's primary sport is softball. She has pitched for the Norfolk town team, the Golden Girls, since she was 8, and her dad has been her softball coach since she started . Dan will retire from that position now that Mickey has joined the Omaha Finesse team, the only "Gold" - level team in the area. Father and daugghter have had a special bond because of their many years together in softball, according to Kris, but Dan believes Mickey will benefit more from pitching for her new team, who have earned a berth in the ASA Nationals for each of the last seven years.
Kris and Dan also have two older daughters, Meagan and Molly, and all three girls played softball for their dad on the Golden Girls team when they were younger.
Meagan graduated from NE Community College as an accounting major. However,she is currently taking classes at both NECC and Wayne State, having decided, after teaching in China, to go into elementary education and become a teacher. She is also engaged to be married this July, and is keeping her hand in sports as well, doing the computer-based stats for both the men's and women's basketball teams at NE Community College. The Anderson's middle daughter, Molly, is currently a student at NECC as well, so all three girls are living at home in Norfolk at this point.
Kris says that she briefly considered getting a coaching certificate years ago, but felt that "one coach in the family is enough --- and he's better at it !" She does add, though, that "I've always believed my athletic experiences have helped me in all aspects of life. It gives me stamina and perseverance when I feel like giving up! It has taught me leadership and teamwork skills. Even if I am not a certified coach, I feel that as a teacher, I am the 'coach' in my classroom. I have to motivate my students each day! " Speaking of perserverance, Kris recently reached one of her goals, earning her Master's Degree - something she'd been working at, on and off, for several years.
Elsewhere in the Husker state, Judy (Winterhof) VanHeek, daughter of Wilmer and Gloria Winterhof, was a guard on the Atoms' team, and now lives in rural Crofton, Nebraska, with her husband John, who farms. Judy works as an Ultrasound and X-ray technician at the Yankton, S.D. Medical Clinic. The VanHeek's daughter, Molly, is a member of the Crofton basketball team, who just won their second consecutive Class C -1 State Championship. Molly is a 5-11 sophomore post player for the team, and was also on the varsity team last year as a freshman. Crofton has won 32 straight games over the last two seasons, including a 24-0 mark this year. While not a starter , Molly did see considerable action this past season - scoring a season-high 16 points in one game, and posting averages of 4 points and 3 rebounds per game. Molly notes proudly that she wears the same number -32 - that her mom did when she played for the Aurelia Atoms. In fact,they have designed a t-shirt commemorating this fact.
The other two starting guards for the '78 Atoms, who won their conference title with a perfect 14-0 mark, were Carrie Miller, daughter of Gayle and the late Bob Miller, and Deb Bergman, daughter of Raymond and Beverly Bergman.
Deb is married to fellow Aurelian Jim McCannon, and they live in LeMars, where Deb is employed at Wells' Blue Bunny. Jim and Deb have three children - a son and two daughters - who are no longer school-age. Deb's two daughters did not play basketball when they were in school - "They were dancers and cheerleaders," says their grandmother Bev.
Carrie (Miller) Gulseth was the only underclassmen starter on the 1978 team. She now lives in Valley Springs, South Dakota (near Brandon), with her husband Doug. Carrie is employed as a Production Manager at Starmark Industries, which produces cupboards and other wood products. She and Doug have two adult sons.
The third starting forward for the '78 team was Sara Gustafson, who, like Kris Peterson, graduated from Augustana College. Unlike Kris, however, Sara did not play basketball in college. After graduating from "Augie", she was employed as a teacher in Wyoming when, as we noted in our previous column, her life came to a tragic end in a vehicular accident. I'm sure her enthusiastic attitude is fondly remembered by all of her former teammates, as well as by their coach, Darrell "Buzz" Curry.
Curry left Aurelia a few years after the '78 team graduated, and took over as the girls' high school basketball coach in Spencer, Iowa. His star player there was Ann Halsne, a multi-sport All-Stater , who later played softball for the Nebraska Cornhuskers . One of Coach Curry's co-workers in the Spencer school system (middle school), ironically, was his former player, Marcia (Winterhof) Klett.
Coach Curry is now retired, and he and his wife Lou continue to make their home in Spencer.
As you can see from the current photos of the '78 team members, these ladies don't seem to have aged like the rest of us. They look like they could step on the court right now and take on an opponent! My thanks to the "girls" and their families for supplying the pictures and updates.
A final note: not only did the Atoms play in the State Tournament in 1978-so did the Aurelia boys' team. The boys posted an outstanding record of 22-4, giving the two Aurelia varsity squads a combined record of 46-6 !
Coach Duane Buttenob's Bulldogs not only made it to state, they finished in third place, defeating Clinton St. Mary's in an exciting double overtime in their final game. Doug Lockin, Scott Witcombe, Kent Hilsabeck, Tim Lundsgaard, Matt Madsen, and Joel Berge were the featured players for the Bulldogs.
1977-78 was indeed a memorable basketball season in Aurelia.