Friday, May 28, 2010

Do Not Screw with the Hanzels, Okay?

In 1938 my mom's brother, Tom Hanzel, played in the boys state basketball tournament for Faribault. Sure, he had a little help in getting the Falcons to the big show. One of his teammates, Bruce Smith, wasn't too shabby on the basketball court, leading all scorers with 11 points in a first round loss to Thief River Falls 37-29. Neither was Hanzel too shabby as Faribault's big man under the basket. But in the second round John Norlander, who in 1942 led Hamline to a national title and later played in the forerunner to the NBA, got the better of him inside, leading all scorers with 12 points. Hanzel then went on to Iowa State on a football scholarship.

Like Hanzel, Smith was a little better on the gridiron, too. In 1941, he won the Heisman Trophy as a running back for another national champion, the Minnesota Gophers. My mom worked for his dad, Lucious, who practiced law in Faribault until he was well into his 90s.

A decade later my mom's cousin, Albert J. "Cody" Hanzel, coached St. Paul Marshall to the 1947 boys state basketball tournament where, well, okay, they lost 2 out of 3 to Crosby-Ironton 36-31 and Granite Falls (and Dave Hegna, who like Norlander also led Hamline to a national championship in 1951) 38-15. In between they hammered Austin 62-51.

The Hanzels, in short, had some athletic genes. I have a couple of cousins who played quarterback at Rochester John Marshall back when that really meant something. One won a scholarship to the U of M, the other was the starting QB at St. Olaf. The rest of us weren't quite as successful. They say that sometimes it skips a generation, or three.

Anyway, short story long. There are a couple of Hanzels who play ball for the Henry Sibley boys. I won't embarrass them or their mom by telling you who they are, but she (their mom) is my first cousin once removed and one of the finest ladies you would ever want to know. And, I will mention that one of them (the boys) made a game-winning shot at the buzzer in a really really big game this past year.

And now Tom Dasovich has done it. He's broken the cardinal rule. He's screwing with the Hanzels, packin' up his bags and leaving Henry Sibley behind and moving on down the road to coach at Minnetonka High. And as a result, someday when you least expect it, someplace that the Hanzels got their fingerprints on--Faribault or New Prague or Montgomery, or maybe Roseville or Hill-Murray, or Detroit Lakes or Pierz, or more likely Henry Sibley itself--one of these schools is gonna rise up and kick your ass, Mr. Dasovich. And when they do, you just remember. Ya screwed with the Hanzels and ya got what ya deserved.


  1. I agree with you Sunnyday, those Henry Sibley boys are two of the finest kids I have ever coached. The youngest of the three might be the best of the bunch! My time at Sibley was great but like many people I had to do what was best for my family. I will always root for the Warriors (unless they are playing the Skippers!).

    I really enjoy your blog and the variety of basketball that you are able to cover.

    Tom Dasovich

  2. Coach,

    I am glad that you "get" that my comments are tongue-in-cheek. I think most people know your roots are out west and, yes, it makes sense that you're going where your roots are. Best wishes (except against Sibley ;-)