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Wednesdays at Willow

Derek Thada

Derek Thada

Senior Jake Menden taking a shot

Derek Thada, Owatonna High School

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Basketball: a game known worldwide and loved by many at OHS. While cheering on the OHS boys and girls teams as a fan is one thing, playing the game is another. With the absence of an Intramural Basketball league for the last two years, some OHS students have gone to creative lengths to start a league of their own.

Wednesdays at Willow, a phenomenon started by former freshman basketball coach and current social studies teacher Dean Walters, gave OHS students who were not a part of the basketball team the opportunity to continue to play competitively. “I started it in 2003 with some upperclassman players that wanted to come back and play the freshman. It really helped the freshman get better, playing against different competition and players who were older and stronger. I know the older guys really enjoyed playing again and having the opportunity to show their skills,” said Mr. Walters. Wednesday at Willow standout, Senior Aidan Buryska said that for him, Wednesdays at Willow offers the chance to, “Stay in peak shape and live out my dreams of playing Varsity basketball.”

With the absence of former Coach Walters, the current freshman basketball coach, Coach Dustin Thorson, decided to keep the tradition going. Along with his assistant coach and current high school social studies teacher, Tyler Hannigan, the two have created a fun and competitive basketball environment. Reflecting on Wednesdays at Willow, Coach Thorson said, “Wednesdays at Willow brings physicality for our freshman to compete against, the upperclassman make them work harder in everything that they have to do, from taking care of the ball, to passing and looking for open shots. Overall, it just helps us get better on a weekly basis, that’s why we started it up after Dean-o.”

Wednesdays at Willow, a budding tradition at OHS, gives students of all ages an opportunity to have fun, stay in shape and play the game they love.

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