Kevin Schnepf, Published October 09 2012
Schnepf: Coach Q about to get his due
Whether it’s in the Bison Sports Arena, Alex Nemzek Fieldhouse or Memorial Auditorium, the retired trio of Bill Quenette, Lowell Bolger and Rex Haugen can be seen dissecting the game as if they were still coaching.
“We just spectate for the most part,” said Quenette, who spent 46 years of his life coaching basketball, football, baseball and even some golf.
And he did it quite well.
That’s why the 79-year-old Quenette will be inducted into the Minnesota State High School Coaches Association Hall of Fame on Saturday in St. Paul. Quenette has already been inducted into the Minnesota Basketball Coaches Hall of Fame and the Concordia Athletic Hall of Fame.
“But this one kind of means more to me, because it encompasses all the sports that I coached,” Quenette said.
Although known more as the longtime head basketball coach who guided the Moorhead Spuds to a state runner-up finish in 1968, Quenette coached Spuds baseball for seven years, coached Spuds girls basketball for three years, coached golf for seven years and was a Spuds assistant football coach for nearly a quarter of a century.
Quenette had no idea that coaching would consume nearly a half century of his life. Neither did his wife, Darlene.
“Lots and lots of games,” Darlene said.
Bill Quenette grew up in West Fargo, where he was the quarterback for the 1948 unbeaten six-man high school football team. After that, it was inevitable he would become a coach playing basketball, football and baseball at Concordia for legends like Jake Christiansen and Sonny Gulsvig.
Eventually, Quenette would coach Sonny’s son, Chuck, as Moorhead High School’s head basketball coach. He would later become an assistant coach under Chuck for the Spuds.
“He fit the bill of a high school coach … he was basically a three-season guy,” said Chuck Gulsvig. “That doesn’t happen very often anymore. He wore a lot of hats, that’s why I think this award is very fitting.”
Whether it was basketball, football or baseball, Quenette was a disciplinarian who stressed the fundamentals. He was intense. He had his teams prepared.
“I didn’t like to go into games not knowing what we had to do,” Quenette said. “My wife can vouch for that.”
“If we were going to get beat, it was only because the other team was better,” said Dan Kostich, the former Spuds football coach who had Quenette as his defensive coordinator the year they won a state championship in 1981.
“He was always the aggressor,” Chuck Gulsvig said. “Defense turned into offense in basketball. It was the same way in football, he was always blitzing everybody.”
Quenette ended his Hall of Fame coaching career in 2005. He called his 18 years as Gulsvig’s basketball assistant the most enjoyable.
“When I was Chuck’s assistant, I was pretty mellow,” Quenette said. “At one time, I was probably too uptight. I learned to relax and enjoy it.”
Like he is now with Bolger and Haugen at those college basketball games. It was Haugen’s Pelican Rapids basketball team that once beat one of Quenette’s best teams in a district championship game. And it was Bolger who was Quenette’s assistant basketball coach from 1967 to 1982.
“Good coaches get players to believe in themselves, and Bill did that,” Bolger said. “Bill was a very passionate coach. He wore it on both sleeves and both pant legs.
“He’s got passion and if you don’t believe it, just look at his license plate.”
A gift from his two sons and one daughter on his 65th birthday, the plates read: “Coach Q.”
Once a coach, always a coach.
Readers can reach Forum Sports Editor Kevin Schnepf at (701) 241-5549
or at firstname.lastname@example.org