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The Greatest Show on Earth

August 23, 2022

A while back, my husband, daughter, bonus mom, and I did something that was probably a first for our alma mater, collectively we nominated my dad’s basketball team for the university’s Hall of Fame. Three generations of fans worked together to highlight the accomplishments of one team. We are excited to announce that he and the entire team received word that they were selected for induction for the Class of 2022 Awardees. We had such a whirlwind summer that I am finally able to start sharing some of the amazing goodness. But we will start with sharing a long overdue accolade. We believe that we were not the only nominators, but there will definitely be some that say that nepotism played a role in our nomination. I understand the sentiment, but I also know as a science and math specialist that numbers don’t lie, such as a perfect 10-0 conference season. Of course, I am one of my dad’s biggest fans, but I also know that this team deserves this award.

What follows is our letter to the Hall of Fame reviewers.

The Greatest Show on Earth

1989-90 Comet Men’s Basketball Team

In the world of incredible sports achievement, it is easy to overlook the individuals and teams which triumph even in the face of adversity. Some sports legends are made from “Cinderella seasons” like the one which describes the 1989-1990 Comet Men’s Basketball team. Starting the season with five straight losses and not much size in the basketball world, the team of only nine players rallied to have one of the greatest comeback stories in Mayville State history, ending the year with a perfect 10-0 conference season.

Many amazing stories and athletic feats were accomplished by this team throughout the season, but one game encapsulates the success of the 1989-90 Comets. With a lackluster season start, a proverbial fire was lit on the bus ride to the University of Mary when against his personal coaching philosophy, Coach Noles transparently shared with the team that he had never beat Mary on their home court . . . ever. Like a match thrown into a tinderbox, from the initial tip to the final buzzer, the Comets were on fire. The whistle blew and the tip went to Cedric Weatherspoon. The first three drives up the court by the men’s team were all connected three-pointers and all three were unmatched by the opponents. Down 9-0, the astonished Mary coach called a timeout and all in attendance in the gym, including the Comet bench, heard the plan. Shut down those 3-pointers! Play proceeded with small in stature but BIG in court presence, Kevin Kemp bringing the ball up the court. A few passes and the ball was eventually pitched out to Todd Olson, who was standing six to seven feet behind the three-point line. Like poetry in motion, a signature head nod fake, a quick look, a shot, and nothing but net. The Comet bench went wild, knowing this was their time. They rose to the challenge and never looked back. At half-time the Comets led by 40 points. The team went into the half-time locker room with a changed energy and renewed confidence. The second half of the game ended much like the first, but with one of the best comments of the season. Eventually, the subs were sent in and finished the game as strong as the starters. While watching the Comets trounce the Mary team, Neil Steffes made several attempts to get Coach Noles’ attention, eventually capturing it. Coach! Coach! We’re not only beating them at home, we are kicking their butts. The Comets returned home to Mayville with a renewed vigor and determination and surprisingly awoke to a newspaper article showcasing their talent and appeal. Following the decisive defeat of Mary, the Bismarck Tribune’s sports headline stated “The Greatest Show on Earth” was not the Ringling Bros Circus, but rather the title and honor should be bestowed to the 1989-90 Mayville State men’s basketball team. 

Other and subsequent games showcased the talent and heart of a team that many discredited at the beginning of the season as not being able to accomplish much of anything. In fact the limited team numbers required that Assistant Coach, Mic Laroque, a non-traditional student, play on the practice squad in order to have a full count of ten men on the court. This team consistently proved the adage that it isn’t always the size of the dog in the fight, but the size of the fight in the dog that matters. The Comet’s season delighted hardwood fans across the state with solid performances by all team members and ended with a record 10-0 conference season and an overall record of 15-10. Three Comets – Jim Hedstrom, Todd Olson, and Cedric Weatherspoon, earned All-NDCAC team honors with Olson being named to the All District 12 team. 

Currently three members of this team have been recognized as Mayville State Hall of Famers. The Comet accomplishments on the court, in the classroom, and in the community at large for Neil Steffes, Todd Olson, and Cedric Weatherspoon were achieved only with the support of other great hoops showmen. This fact was one that was noted in a class act at the conclusion of the season. For the end of the season team banquet, the starters, Jim Hedstrom, Mark Olson, Todd Olson, Cedric Weatherspoon and Neil Steffes went to Coach Noles and asked for all the substitute players to be named the year’s MVP’s. Stating that they themselves didn’t deserve the honor, the season’s named MVP’s were awarded to Kemp Kemp, Ryan Flanagan, Kurt Olson, and Ken Kantack. 

For the reasons outlined above, most importantly for the recognition by the starters for the importance each team member played, and as three generations of Comet fans, we believe the entire team deserves Hall of Fame recognition. We are proud to nominate the team and coaching staff of the 1989-90 Comet Men’s basketball team for consideration for the Mayville State Hall of Fame class of 2020 

Respectfully submitted by three generations of Comet fans, 

Lorraine Nowatzki Stevens (Class of 1963)

Dr. Kandy Noles Stevens (Class 1991) 

Daniel Stevens (Class of 1994) 

Erin Stevens (attender 2017 & 2018) 

1989-1990 Mayville State University Men’s Basketball Team

I am excited for this team, especially my dad. Currently, he is working on a memoir of his years as a coach, which we hope to release through our publishing company later this year. Being his co-author and learning more about how basketball changed his life, and by extension mine, has been both an illuminating and humbling journey. So here’s to all the coaches and how the teams they coach have always been a big part of their story.

Congrats to the entire 1989-1990 Comet Men’s Basketball team. We are incredibly proud of you all.

2 Comments
  1. Alma Noles permalink

    With tears, all I can say, is thank you and this is awesome Love ya, mom

    Sent from my iPhone

    >

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