New Rockford Transcript - Official Newspaper of Eddy County since 1883

"Let's Go Here Now!" Transcript writer Gary Lindquist reflects on covering 25 years of high school sports


March 25, 2019

The crowd sang Happy Birthday to Gary during the pep rally on Tuesday, March 12.

Basketball, without a doubt, is a favorite of Transcript sports correspondent, Gary Lindquist. He cites perks of the sport being the constant action and the climate-controlled setting during the winter months. He also adds, "The games get interesting at the end of the season, when there is more on the line."

More than anything though, basketball does a great job bringing communities together. "There is shared excitement," Gary says, "You can see and hear the fan base. Nothing beats an enthusiastic crowd." And it's true, the announcers on television even took note of the "sea of Columbia blue" that was the Rockets' fans.

"To be in the eight left standing at state is a big deal," Gary says. The Rockets have been there a handful of times, and Lindquist lists these off with ease, "'61, '63, '71, '78, '03,' 04, '05, and now '19." Gary paused before sharing a bit of history. "There was a game in '05 where the Rockets went up against Bottineau for two overtimes and won by three points."

Gary has had growing interest and knowledge in sports since he was very young- 9 or 10 years old. His friend and mentor Bill Aaslakson was the one to help Gary turn his fascination into a skill. His career in sports writing began in 1993 when he filled the position formerly occupied by Aaslakson.

The 2018-19 season was the first in 25 years that Gary was unable to cover the Rocket's basketball. On Dec. 26, Gary fell on the ice and broke the distal portion of his femur, essentially the top of his knee, sending him to take the bench, so to speak.

Gary was placed at the Lutheran Home of the Good Shepherd on Dec. 31, 2018 where he rang in the new year and geared up for some serious healing. Any of us who have dealt with this kind of recuperation know it is no easy task. With daily challenges such walking and simple self care to facing ongoing physical therapy and pain, it's been a long recovery to say the least.

"It's been tough." Gary says shaking his head, "Real tough."

Good news came around for Gary though in the beginning of the month, when he was invited to attend the NR-S pep rally before the Region 4 Championship. After receiving clearance from doctors, Gary hitched a ride on the handicapped accessible LHGS transport van to the school.

"I was so overwhelmed" he recalls, "Just awestruck."

But that was just the beginning. Later that evening Dr. Mike Nicolai made something even more happen for Gary. He put him in his vehicle, finagled with the wheelchair and walker, and drove him to Devils Lake for the Region 4 championship game, getting seats right behind the bench.

"March 7 will go down as one of the best days of my life. I could hardly sleep that night. I wonder why?" Gary said with his voice cracking.

Although it wasn't the press row seats Gary was used to, he was able to stay in the loop. Throughout the state championship games, Gary was able to watch all the games on the television in the coffee shop or on the computer, giving him a bit of a bump during some of the stormiest days of the season. "It was so good to be connected and to informed. I felt part of it all."

It was all test of patience to wait and watch. But for Gary, even after the awards ceremony concluded, the fun wasn't over. On Sunday afternoon, he retired to his room to take a nap, up as is with sleeping in such places. As soon heard noises and excitement in the hall. After peeking out of the corner of his eye, he saw the team with coaches Belquist and Cook standing in the hallway, their fifth place trophy in hand. Though all were tired, they took time for congratulations and a photo, jeering at what fun it was that Gary was wearing the "Lucky Charm" shirt the team gave him a week prior.

The NR-S basketball team brought their fifth place trophy home to Gary at the Lutheran Home on Sunday, March 17.

The past weeks have been more than exciting for Gary, but he is taking the attention in stride. Modesty is an attribute that Gary carries close to heart, a practice he learned from his father. Still he says, "This has been awesome to be part of all this. This is why we're all here, to do good for others."

With that good, Gary keeps on looking ahead. He mostly uses a walker now and the doctor is pleased with his progress. While everyday offers its own challenges and he sometimes has to take things one step at a time, Gary looks forward to April, when he will be transitioned to the Westview apartments.

Upon looking back at his career and the students he has written about, Lindquist couldn't help but get a little choked up, "It's been such a privilege, to be associated with these athletes and watch them develop and grow. I am proud of all of them. It's my hope that they can apply their athletic success to other areas of their lives."

On the next page, Erik Gjovik breaks down the player "stats," just like Gary so diligently recorded over the years.


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