(Mitchell, S.D.) - The World’s Only Corn Palace is proud to announce that it will dedicate its basketball court in memory of the late Hall of Fame Coach Gary Munsen at the Mike Miller Classic on December 29th.
“Coach Munsen helped mold every young Kernel athlete he has ever come into contact with. I personally would not have been able to achieve my dream of playing in the NBA if it wasn’t for the lifelong values he taught. Core values of hard work, togetherness, toughness, teamwork and selflessness were taught every day and are values I carry on today. Not only did he positively mold the young kids he coached, he inspired a community with pride. To this day, Kernel Basketball is nationally known for its twelve state championships, and this national recognition is something to be celebrated. Kernel Basketball became the identity of a community that has raised young boys and girls to be successful. Whether you played basketball, watched basketball or grew up with dreams outside of athletics, Coach Munsen gave young people the inspiration that if you dream something and work at it, your dreams can happen,” said former Kernel player, NBA Rookie Of The Year and two time NBA Champion, Mike Miller, of his former coach.
Coach Munsen coached boys’ basketball for forty-six years – forty-two as a head coach, the last thirty-nine of which were at Mitchell High School and the World’s Only Corn Palace. His Kernels won nine state titles, including three in a row (1984-86), and were runners-up five times. In thirty-four of those thirty-nine years, Munsen guided Mitchell to the state tournament. The Kernels also won eighteen Eastern South Dakota Conference titles. His varsity career record was 672-254.
“We want to honor Coach Munsen not only for his accomplishments on the court, but also for the impact he had on so many kids’ lives. He created a culture in Mitchell that is unprecedented in modern day athletics. The values he instilled to his players through basketball carry on much further than the game,” said Corn Palace Director Scott Schmidt.
As Mitchell’s girls coach, he was 230-71 with seven ESD titles, three state titles, four runner-up finishes and eleven state-tourney appearances in thirteen seasons (1989-2001). No South Dakota basketball coach has won more state titles than Munsen. He is also number two in state history for boys’ basketball coaching wins. It’s probably no coincidence that the state’s greatest player – Mike Miller – was coached by Munsen. Scott Morgan, an NAIA national player of the year, and Bart Friedrick, who starred at Drake, were other standouts coached by Munsen. In all, he coached sixty-two all-state boys and twenty-two all-state girls while drawing loyal crowds to the Corn Palace.
“Coach Munsen was bigger than the game of basketball. To us, his former players, he was a second father. He was larger than life in Mitchell. The discipline that I bring to my life each and every day is because of what Coach instilled in me. Next to my mother and father, he is undoubtedly the biggest impact in my life. I had the great privilege of not only knowing him as a coach, but also knowing him later in life as a friend,” said President of the Mike Miller Classic, Ernie Kuyper.
Twice, Coach Munsen was nominated for National Boys Basketball Coach of the Year. The South Dakota Sportswriters Association chose him as the state Boys High School Coach of the Year three times (1986, ’96, ’05), as well as winning the girls award twice (’93, ’01). He is a member of the halls of fame of the state high school coaches association and the state boys basketball coaches association as well as the DSU Hall of Fame.
There will be a dedication ceremony on the Corn Palace Floor Friday, December 29th, prior to the Mitchell Kernels game which starts at 7pm vs. Yankton.
Tickets to the Mike Miller Classic can be purchased at the Corn Palace box office, online at www.cornpalace.com or via telephone at 605-995-8430. For more information on the Mike Miller Classic, please visit their website at www.mikemillerclassic.com.
About the World’s Only Corn Palace
The World’s Only Corn Palace is one of the oldest and most unique sports and entertainment venues in the region. Although during the summer months, the Corn Palace offers free tours led by friendly guides full of "a-maize-ing" facts, like how many nails and staples are used in the decoration process of our annual change of murals, we host a variety of events including concerts, basketball, volleyball, wrestling, bull riding, circus, banquets, graduations and much more. The facility can host up to 3,200 people. For more information, please visit www.cornpalace.com.