The folks who run the Manitoba Basketball Hall of Fame paid special attention to the grassroots of their sport at Tuesday’s 2017 induction announcement.

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The folks who run the Manitoba Basketball Hall of Fame paid special attention to the grassroots of their sport at Tuesday’s 2017 induction announcement.

Four were honoured in the builder category, including former Dakota Collegiate varsity girls coach Dennis Alvestad, Brandon’s Mike Hill, longtime junior high and elementary school coach Larry Marquardson and longtime coach and administrator Wayne Ruff.

Marquardson, who spent 44 years in the game while coaching and teaching at Sisler, Earl Grey and Sargent Park, was humbled by the recognition.

"I appreciate being honoured. I feel that I don’t deserve it and I’d much rather be in the background," said Marquardson, who retired from teaching in 2012.

"I guess when the speeches come in September I will be emotional, thanking the people, and certainly the committee has done a really nice job. I appreciated the honour, don’t get me wrong, but I feel unworthy, especially compared to a lot of the people that are here and in the hall already."

Some of Marquardson’s most rewarding time was spent in coaching elementary school children, where he took a real grassroots approach to the game.

Photos by RUTH BONNEVILLE / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS</p><p>Larry Marquardson (top) is more comfortable being in the background, but the longtime coach will be front and centre as one of the inductees into the Manitoba Basketball Hall of Fame. Another supporter of basketball in the province, the late Dennis Alvestad, will also be inducted. He was represented by his widow, Betty Butler, at Tuesday’s announcement.</p>

Photos by RUTH BONNEVILLE / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS

Larry Marquardson (top) is more comfortable being in the background, but the longtime coach will be front and centre as one of the inductees into the Manitoba Basketball Hall of Fame. Another supporter of basketball in the province, the late Dennis Alvestad, will also be inducted. He was represented by his widow, Betty Butler, at Tuesday’s announcement.

Everyone who wanted to play got a chance to participate.

"I was coaching six to eight teams a year," said Marquardson, 70. "We’d divide the kids up and go into tournaments. I never made a cut in 25 years."

Alvestad, who died in 2013 at age 71, was represented at Tuesday’s induction announcement by his widow, Betty Butler.

"I think it’s well deserved," said an emotional Butler, whose husband guided four teams to provincial titles. "He taught for 37 years and basketball was very important to him."

Among his favourite Dakota teams were the provincial champions in 1976, 1977 and 1979. Alvestad just missed a four-peat when the 1978 squad lost in the provincial final.

Meanwhile, former national men’s team member John Cook and former University of Winnipeg women’s star Deb Steele-Kretschmer will be inducted in the players category.

Cook, who lives in Victoria, and Steele-Kretschmer, who lives in Edmonton, were unable to attend Tuesday’s announcement, but are expected for the official induction dinner Sept. 30 at the Victoria Inn.

Two teams were also honoured, including Manitoba’s 19U women’s team that won the 1991 national championship and the Vincent Massey-Winnipeg Trojans, who won provincial AAAA titles in 1982-83, 1986-87 and 1987-88.

mike.sawatzky@freepress.mb.ca Twitter: @sawa14

Mike Sawatzky

Mike Sawatzky
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Mike has been working on the Free Press sports desk since 2003.

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