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Jim Rolf watches from the bench during the Chargers’ game against Osakis on Tuesday night. Rolf will step away as the Brandon-Evansville girls’ assistant at the end of this season. (Blaze Fugina/Echo Press)

Rolf decides 41 years is long enough

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Jim Rolf has been part of the Brandon-Evansville girls’ basketball team’s coaching staff since the program was started back in 1973, but recently he announced this season will be his last.

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He made the decision after 41 years as a coach at Brandon-Evansville. Besides spending 38 years as coach of the junior varsity, Rolf also spent one year coaching junior high boys and two years as a head coach for the girls program in the 1970s. Although most assistant coaches strive to move on and become a head coach, Rolf was happy leaving the pressure up to someone else.

“I was head coach for two years, and I enjoyed sleeping again,” Rolf said. “The pressure is a lot less.”

Four different head coaches have worked with Rolf during his tenure as an assistant coach. The longest is that of current head coach Dick Simpson, who has been with the program for 29 years.

“It’s been great coaching with Mr. Simpson,” Rolf said. “He’s a great guy to work with; he really is.”

Rolf has been appreciative of the freedom that Simpson has given him as coach of the junior varsity. When he told Simpson he wanted to coach the JV team, Simpson was on board.

“He told me, ‘You want to coach? I’ll let you coach, and I’m going to go get a bag of popcorn and sit in the back and watch,’ ” Rolf recalled.

Simpson recalled a memorable story from the 1999 season when the Chargers won the Class A state championship. That year Rolf made a promise to the girls that he kept once the team won the first round of the state tournament at Concordia in Moorhead to advance to Williams Arena in Minneapolis.

“He told the kids that if we got to Williams Arena that he would get his head shaved, so he did,” Simpson said. “That’s commitment there.”

Spending the rest of the tournament without hair was worth it for Rolf. He said the state tournament experience was one of the most memorable moments from his time with the team.

“Obviously, going to Williams Arena is a big deal,” Rolf said. “It was something I’ve dreamed about and I got to do it.”

A lot has changed with the game of basketball since Rolf has started coaching. Youth programs have helped the girls develop their games at a younger age, allowing them to be more prepared once they reach high school.

“The players now when they get to my level are much more skilled,” Rolf said. “It’s really amazing the improvements.”

The three point line was also added to the game during Rolf’s time as a coach. He said the game has changed since that was included, putting an emphasis on shooting.

“It made a difference, especially if you have outside shooters,” Rolf said. “I didn’t really push that right away but now you have to push it.”

Rolf plans to do four things with his extra time now that he will retire from basketball. He wants to spend more time learning when to buy and sell stocks, become fluent in Norwegian, learn more about his genealogy and move with his wife, Mary, to be closer to his children and grandchildren.

Although he will miss the competition and the people around the program, Rolf is excited to spend more time with his family and pick up some new hobbies.

“When I was a kid I listened to some old farmers talk one Sunday afternoon and they said, ‘It comes a time when you’ve got to break in a new horse,’ ” Rolf said.

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Blaze Fugina
Blaze Fugina is a sports reporter at the Echo Press. Before working in Alexandria, he graduated from the University of Wisconsin-River Falls in May of 2011. He previously worked as the community editor of the Mound Laker for more than a year. You can follow Blaze on Twitter at @BlazeFugina.
(320) 763-1230
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