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Published January 21 2012

Milbrandt family bonding through sports


Wally and DiAnn Milbrandt have been married almost 50 years.

Their key to happiness has been love, a strong family bond with their children and grandchildren and sports. A lot of sports.

Wally and DiAnn, both from Hankinson, N.D., have built their retired lives around attending sporting events. And with good reason.

Youngest son, Tom, is the athletic director, an assistant basketball coach and assistant football coach at Maple Valley High School in Tower City, N.D. Oldest son, Scott, is an assistant basketball coach and head baseball coach at Kindred.

Both were part of the Oak Grove Pepsi Shootout basketball tournament Saturday at Fargo Civic Auditorium.

“A lot of times we do three games a night,” said Wally.

Wally and DiAnn, who owned a hardware store in Hankinson for several years before their recent retirements, are always on the road for family sporting events.

Besides watching their sons, grandson Austin Althoff is a senior on the West Fargo basketball team, granddaughter Paige Milbrandt is a freshman volleyball and basketball player at Kindred and grandson Nick Milbrandt is a senior basketball and baseball player at Kindred.

Nick is the son and Paige is the daughter of Scott. Althoff is the son of Lori Althoff, who is one of Wally and DiAnn’s two daughters.

“We should have our own section (in the arena),” Tom said Saturday.

Wally and DiAnn are obviously sports fans. Wally played baseball, basketball and football in high school. He was elected to the North Dakota Amateur Softball Association Hall of Fame in 1994. DiAnn claims to have been the loudest person in the pep club.

Wally said his father attempted years ago to push him into coaching. It didn’t happen.

But Scott and Tom have allowed Wally to live what might have been through their lives in coaching.

Wally and DiAnn said they enjoy each games. However, the outcome is never more important than watching family succeed.

The hardest moments come when Kindred and Maple Valley square off in basketball.

That game is scheduled for Feb. 2 in Kindred.

Tom is quick to point out that he is 1-4 against his older brother.

“Before the game starts (Scott and Tom) always embrace each other,” DiAnn said.

“Last year, it kind of brought tears to our eyes,” Wally added.

One of Wally and DiAnn’s proudest moments came when Scott and Nick helped the Kindred-Richland baseball team to the Class B state championship last year. Nick was the team’s ace pitcher, Scott the head coach.

Wally and DiAnn were there every step of the way, cheering for the team from Kindred to Mandan.

“I think Nick struck out 18 in 12 innings (during the state tournament),” Wally said. “We were very proud.”

Things will quiet down a little for Wally and DiAnn after Nick and Austin graduate from high school.

There will be fewer games to attend. But there will still be plenty of activity to fill the time.

Scott and Tom will still be coaching, and Paige will still be competing.

Don’t expect to see the Milbrandt section to be empty anytime soon.

“People ask us if we are ever going to go down south,” DiAnn said. “We could never go down south and miss all of these games.”

Maple Valley 23 40 57 73

Hankinson 16 26 41 46

MAPLE VALLEY: Smith 4 5-6 13, Preston 9 1-1 19, Steidl 8 0-0 17, Haseleu 9 1-1 19, Richman 1 1-2 3, Sours 1 0-0 2. Totals: 32 8-10 73.

HANKINSON: Lenzen 1 0-2 3, Geffre 4 1-2 9, S. Mauch 2 0-0 4, Asp 1 1-3 3, Birnbaum 4 0-1 8, Theede 2 0-0 4, Gulan 4 0-0 8, Veit 1 0-0 3, G. Mauch 1 0-0 2, C. Mauch 1 0-0 2. Totals: 21 2-8 46.

3-pointers: Steidl, Lenzen, Veit. Total fouls: MV 9, H 7. Rebounds: MV 25 (Preston 9), H 30 (Geffre 6).

Readers can reach Forum reporter

Heath Hotzler at (701) 241-5562.

Hotzler’s blogs can be found

at www.areavoices.com