Victory No. 500 among special memories for Spring Grove's Grinde
Spring Grove boys basketball coach Wade Grinde notched the 500th win of his career on Thursday. He has guided the Lions to 14 SEC titles and one state berth.
Wade Grinde has had a lot of special memories coaching the Spring Grove boys basketball team over the years. On Thursday, he hit a personal milestone that he won’t soon forget.
Grinde, in his 27th season coaching at Spring Grove, notched his 500th career victory when the Lions pulled out a 55-52 victory over Waukon, Iowa.
“It was a special night,” Grinde said. “It was an exciting game that came down to the wire. It was a classic high school basketball game with a nice crowd on hand.”
Grinde had two of his coaching mentors on the bench with him, Tom Vix and Al Lochner. Vix was a standout Rushford-Peterson boys basketball coach who guided the Trojans to three state titles.The former Section 1A foe of Grinde and the Lions has been an assistant at Spring Grove the past four seasons. Lochner has been an assistant for Grinde the past 26 years.
How long has Grinde been coaching the Lions? Chris Strinmoen was a member of Grinde’s first team at Spring Grove in 1995-96. Stinmoen is now a math teacher and the varsity baseball coach at Spring Grove and his son, Jaxon, plays for the Lions and was part of Grinde’s 500th career win.
“That’s priceless,” Grinde said. “It kind of dates you a little bit. … That pretty much comes full circle and frames things pretty well.”
"He's done so much for all of our athletic programs here," Chris Strinmoen said. "He's just an outstanding teacher and coach and friend to everyone."
Three sons all played big roles
And speaking of sons, Grinde has three boys and they have all played a huge part in Spring Grove’s success over the years. Chase Grinde, who is playing for Division II University of Sioux Falls, was on the team when his father posted career win No. 400. Caden Grinde, now a redshirt freshman at D-II Upper Iowa, was on the team when the Lions earned a state berth in 2019. Tysen Grinde is currently a junior for the Lions and part of his father’s 500th career win.
Before Grinde started coaching at Spring Grove, a Southeast Conference title was rare for the Lions. One of his special memories was when the Lions beat Lanesboro in an exciting game in 2004 to win the team’s first Southeast Conference title in about 25 years.
“That was a pretty special year,” Grinde said. Since then, he has guided the Lions to 14 more conference titles and they will likely win another this season.
The Lions are having another strong season and are currently 14-3 overall and 9-0 in the Southeast Conference.
“This is a young team so it’s exciting to watch them grow,” Grinde said. “They’ve come a long way since the beginning of the season. The best part about it is they have a lot of upside, there’s a lot more left in the tank.”
Under Grinde, Spring Grove has had some epic battles in Section 1A play and has reached the title game four times. The Lions won an elusive section title in 2019 to earn a state berth for the first time in school history.
“We were knocking on the door and it was nice to finally break through,” Grinde said.
The Lions proceeded to knock off No. 1 Springfield in the state quarterfinals and lost to eventual state champion Henning in the semifinals. Spring Grove then defeated Ada-Borup-West in overtime of the third-place game in another memorable game for Grinde.
“That was probably one of the most incredible games I’ve ever been a part of,” Grinde said.
The game was played at 10 a.m. and at Concordia College, so Grinde wasn’t sure what to expect.
“It was packed in there and it was so loud in there we couldn’t hear each other sitting right next to each other,” he said. “It went right down to the wire, and went to overtime. Alex Folz was special and just hit some amazing shots and we were able to pull that one out. That was pretty wild.”
Grinde has made lasting friendships and memories during his long tenure in Spring Grove. Over the years he has had offers to take other coaching jobs but always resisted. Family and support in the community were a big part of his desire to keep coaching the Lions.
“Spring Grove is a unique community,” he said. “ It’s a special place to raise a family and I think that’s the biggest thing. I think when my wife and I had our kids, we really decided that this was the best place to raise them.”
Grinde is a middle school teacher at Spring Grove. He is just 51 years old, but he is unsure how much longer he wants to coach. He has two sons playing college basketball and Tysen, who is a junior, could also be headed in that direction.
“We’ll take it year by year,” he said of coaching. “It’s hard to get to all my boys’ playing right now. For sure we’ll finish my son Tysen’s (high school career), and then we’ll have to re-evaluate.”