Northern Star: Proctor Girls Basketball Seniors
For this week's Northern Star, we hear from six seniors on the Proctor girls basketball team.
PROCTOR, Minn. – The story of this season’s proctor girls basketball team didn’t begin at the start of the season or even last year when they won their first section title in 17 years. You have to go back to elementary school for the six seniors on the team: Sam Pogatchnik, Taylor Bradley, Morgan Nylund, Sam Parendo, Katelyn Marunich and Liz Frase.
“Honestly, I’ve grown six inches since then but I think everyboyd else is like similar,” Frase said.
“It’s really cool because I got to play with Liz since Choo-Choo league and all the other girls from like fourth grade,” said Bradley.
“We played against each other in first and second. And then third and fourth was when we kind of started all coming together throughout the teams,” Pogatchnik said.
“It definitely kick-started a very big a-ha moment of ‘We’re pretty good. We could go far. We can actually do this’,” said Marunich.
“Ninth grade is when we all got serious and we wanted to be really good and make something happen at Proctor,” Nylund said.
The catalysts for the youth basketball program at Proctor were Scott Hermanson, Derek Parendo and Todd Marunich, giving the latter two the chance to coach their daughters since day one.
“He’d be like ‘I don’t care what the score is. We could lose by 50. But as long as you shoot correctly ten times, we’ll bring ice cream to practice.’ Some little things like that he did was really cool. I think that was a big part of the reason why we have some of the big fundamental skills that we have now,” Parendo said.
“He was a big part of it. Those two always running practices. And for my dad to be a part of that learning stages for us and say that he was a part of our success is kind of cool,” said Marunich.
And the chemistry is still there, nearly ten years later, pushing the Rails to becoming one of the best teams in Class AA.
“It doesn’t matter who’s got the ball bringing it up the floor, they’re going to find the open player. And that doesn’t just happen. That comes from time in the gym together, working on skills, working on reading each other,” head coach Matt Solberg said.
“Any given one of us can go off on a night. It’s not like we’re one person. Our juniors have stepped up. I think we all can play as a team and it’s not just one or two people,” said Frase.
“A lot of times, a lot of these teams that grow up together, sometimes there’s some animosity and drama between the team. But we’re just so close together that it’s just a really cool and unique experience,” Marunich said.
“We know we got there but that’s not our only goal this year. It’s to actually make it happen. Win state. That’s like our main goal,” said Nylund.
An unprecedented four of the six will continue their basketball careers at the college level: Pogatchnik at Bemidji State, Marunich at Southwest Minnesota State, Frase at Concordia-Moorhead and Parendo across the bridge at Wisconsin-Superior.
And with playoffs right around the corner, the seniors won’t be satisfied with just a section title. They want more, especially with their high school basketball careers winding down.