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Sports, Outdoors & Nature - Basketball

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Some Very Clever Teamwork: How Basketball Transformed Youth Sports in Minnesota

ISBN: 9781643436463
Binding: Paperback
Author: Marc Hugunin
Pages: 272
Trim: 7 x 9 inches
Published: 10/10/2023

On April 5, 1913, the smallest team from one of the smallest schools, Fosston High School, claimed the first-ever Minnesota state high school basketball title by virtue of "some very clever teamwork." It was also by virtue of some very clever teamwork among the faculty at Carleton College and its friends in the field of secondary education that the tournament was held at all. The participants formed a committee to assure that the tournament would be held again in 1914 and beyond.

More importantly, youth sports in Minnesota would for the first time be administered in the schools. Minnesota today is often branded as the "state of hockey," but as Marc Hugunin expertly chronicles in this thoroughly researched history, when youth sports first came under the control of the schools, basketball was the tip of the spear, the sport of choice in polite society.

The schools would teach boys how to play the game in a fair and sportsmanlike manner, and would ensure that sports would be the character-building experience that they claimed to be. Beginning with the popularity of the sport of basketball, youth sports and youth culture in Minnesota were transformed from a period of chaos to one of an accepted order.


Marc Hugunin has been a basketball fan for more than sixty years, since his dad first took him to see the local high school basketball team. "The older boys were heroic to me," he remembers. "I wanted to be just like them." Hugunin played basketball through high school and has remained a fan and become a writer and historian of Minnesota basketball. With his good friend Stew Thornley, he coauthored Minnesota Hoops: Basketball in the North Star State, published by Minnesota Historical Society Press in 2006. He was the historian for the Minnesota State High School League on the occasion of the one hundredth anniversary of state tournament basketball in 2012. After blogging about basketball for fifteen years, he launched a comprehensive website and blog, North Star Hoops, where he is known to many as Sunnyday or Sunny. In addition to his interests in basketball and writing, Hugunin also enjoys golf, music, and pizza. He lives with his cat, also named Sunny, in Stillwater, Minnesota, a block from the St. Croix River.


"What do we really know about the earliest state high school basketball tournaments in Minnesota? The first championship team did not even have a coach or a gymnasium! Marc Hugunin has provided extensive and surprising research in Some Very Clever Teamwork. His detailed information is at a championship level!" - Dave Lee, WCCO morning news radio host for thirty-two years, host of MY FIRST CONCERT podcast

"Minnesota is often branded as the 'state of hockey,' but as Marc Hugunin expertly chronicles in this thoroughly researched history of the early days of basketball in Gopherland, from its start basketball was more popular and important, with direct connections to James Naismith, the inventor of the game. Hugunin follows up his coauthored book, Minnesota Hoops (published in 2006 with Stew Thornley), with this examination of the controversies surrounding the didactic purpose of sport in the public educational system. For anyone interested in high school basketball in the first two decades of the twentieth century, Hugunin's encyclopedic coverage is the definitive resource." - Dr. Sheldon Anderson, professor of history, Miami University, Ohio

"Some Very Clever Teamwork relives for us the beginnings of basketball as a community and school activity in Minnesota, as well as the birth of the Minnesota state high school basketball tournament and the Minnesota State High School League. If you are a fan of Minnesota basketball, this book is for you." - Steve Fritz, men’s basketball coach and athletic director (retired), St. Thomas University

"Marc Hugunin chronicles the state high school tournament from its modest beginnings, and breaks through the long-standing myths of the tournament's founding. This is the real story. Marc is the leading historian of Minnesota basketball, and so this a must read for aficionados of high school basketball in the state." - Stew Thornley, coauthor (with Marc Hugunin) of Minnesota Hoops: Basketball in the North Star State

"Some Very Clever Teamwork helps us to see and to feel the building of a new national athletic culture. Mr. Hugunin helps us to remember how new athletic styles were an important part of a great transformation in American life. This is the gift of this book. Some Very Clever Teamwork exemplifies local history at its best." - Dr. David W. Noble, professor (retired) of American studies and history, University of Minnesota