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Brad Schaack still 'in love' with Jamestown hockey

Brad Schaack was recently inducted into the North Dakota Amateur Hockey Association Hall of Fame.

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Brad Schaack, center, was inducted into the North Dakota Amateur Hockey Association Hall of Fame on Dec. 17. Submitted photo
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At age 14, Brad Schaack wasn't too thrilled about his summer 'chores.'

"My dad set up a shooting area in our backyard," Schaack said in reflection. "I could not leave the house until I shot 200 rubber pucks followed by 100 steel pucks. I wasn’t happy about it until I saw the results the next season then I had no problem shooting them the following summers."

Forty-six years after he was the one being taught, the North Dakota Amateur Hockey Association (NDAHA) Hall of Fame recognized the longtime member of the Jamestown Hockey Community for his decades-long dedication to the game.

"It is a bit surreal knowing I’m in the Hall of Fame with the likes of Dean Blais and Fido Purpur not to mention the four guys from Jamestown, Lou Cowardin, Jim Goodroad, Charlie Skeel, and Scott Schafer," Schaack said. "I played hockey with Scott from peewees through high school and the other three were my youth coaches. I am honored and humbled for sure."

North Dakota Amateur Hockey Hall of Fame president and Jamestown High School head boys hockey coach Matt Stockert, nominated Schaack for the Hall of Fame. Schaack was officially inducted on Dec. 17.

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Schaack first started skating and playing hockey in Fergus Falls, Minnesota, back in 1968 and has been involved with the game ever since. While he still plays once a week, Schaack's career as a player has taken a back seat to his coaching career. He coached the Jamestown High School girls team from 2009-13 and is the current Pewee A hockey coach in Jamestown.

"Hockey to me is the ultimate team sport," Schaack said. "The hockey family is universal. I may be a bit biased with that but I’m sticking to it. I loved the physical part of the game and of course, the speed.

Schaack first coached an in-house peewee team in 1979 and from there absolutely fell in love with the sport of coaching. The following year, in 1980, Schaack had his first traveling team when he coached the Peewee B team. Two years ago, his peewee A team won the state championship, a first-ever for the longtime coach.

Under the direction of Schaack, the Blue Jay girls advanced to back-to-back state tournaments in 2012 and 2013. The Blue Jays won the consolation championship in 2012 and took fourth place the year after. Schaack said the group of Blue Jays were a hardworking bunch that was a "treat to coach."

With the exception of a year or two, Schaack has been an ever-present coaching force on the ice.

"I still love coming to the rink," Schaack said. "Although there is a day or two during a season where I’d just love to stay home, once I step foot in the rink I’m glad to be there. I still get pumped before going on the bench to coach a game. It just gets my blood flowing."

Schaack was named WDA Coach of the Year twice and was named the North Dakota Associated Press Sportscasters and Sportswriters Association (NDAPSSA) High School Female Coach of the Year in 2013.

But it's not just at Wilson Arena that Schaack is teaching the Jamestown youth the ins and outs of the game.

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Schaack reimplemented his father's, James, battle-tested backyard set up in his own backyard and offers any Jamestown hockey player -- young or old -- the chance to come and work on their shooting. The only rule is, all pucks must be collected at the end of a shooting session.

Schaack's dad's influence has gone beyond the construction of his son's backyard.

While James was not a hockey guy himself growing up, Schaack said he became a "hockey nut" as soon as Schaack began skating. The North Dakota Amateur Hockey Fall of Fame inductee credited his dad for pushing him to be better day in and day out.

Raising his son's level of play, wasn't the only thing James was good at raising.

A major door-to-door fundraising event with the Jamestown Hockey Community helped to raise enough money to construct Wilson Arena. The original boards for Wilson Arena were built in his family's garage and were well used and well-loved for nearly 30 years.

"I played outdoors here until the Wilson Arena was built in '75," Schaack said. "We played outdoors after school and after supper regardless of the temperature outside. It made one tough and it also made one appreciate the Wilson Arena when it was done. Early on it was basically just a roof over our head but we were thrilled to be inside.

"My dad was a huge part of building Wilson Arena. He could be in the Hall of Fame just as easily as me."

James passed away in 1979 at the age of 46. He was named the Citizen of the Year in '79.

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While James influenced Schaack to be the best he could be, whether as a coach or a player, Schaack has influenced his own daughter, Amber, to pick up coaching.

Amber, a former North Dakota high school Miss Hockey has been hired to coach the first University of Jamestown women's hockey team, which will officially begin play in 2022-23.

A four-time all-state forward and defenseman for the Jays, Amber went on to score 55 career points in her four years at Concordia College in Moorhead, Minnesota.

Following her college career, Amber coached in both Minnesota and West Fargo.

"It is a huge commitment but for me, it’s all been worth it," Schaack said of coaching. "After every season for the last five years or so I tell my wife, Anita, that this is probably it. I have missed a lot of other events because of my coaching but I keep coming back.

"I still have the passion for it and as long as that’s there, I will continue to do it in some capacity. I just truly love the game and with that said -- I’ll see you at the rink."

Katie Ringer is a sports reporter for the Jamestown Sun. Katie joined the Sun staff in the summer of 2019 after graduating from the University of Wisconsin Eau Claire with a degree in journalism. She can be reached by email at kringer@jamestownsun.com or by phone at 701-952-8460.
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