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Chisholm boys' basketball coach Bob McDonald

Chisholm boys’ basketball coach Bob McDonald is way beyond remembering firsts in his storied career. Except his latest Thursday — becoming the first high school coach in any sport in state history to win 1,000 games while coaching in his entirety in Minnesota.

The legendary mentor reached that milestone with a 61-55 victory over Walker-Hackensack-Akeley in the quarterfinals of the Hibbing Holiday tournament.

“This is very gratifying,” said McDonald, whose career record is 1,000-421. “It’s a fulfillment, not for me personally but for every kid who has played for me. This is what they’ve accomplished.”

McDonald, 80, is retiring after this season, his 59th. It’s his 53rd season guiding the Bluestreaks. He previously coached at McGregor and Barnum.

Looking ahead to his final day as a coach, McDonald said, “That day will bring a big sigh of relief. I will start to thank all of the people who got me to this point.”

The milestone victory wasn’t won in typical Chisholm fashion. His squad, which raised its overall record to 6-2 on the season, did not pile up a lot of points.

“We played some defense for a change,” McDonald said. “We’ve never been known for our defense in Chisholm. We’ve always been able to score.”

McDonald is only the 16th boys’ basketball coach in the nation to reach 1,000 career victories. He is currently second among active coaches in career victories behind Bob Hurley of St. Anthony High School in Jersey City, N.J.

“I’m very grateful today,” McDonald said. “I’m very proud of the job all the kids have done putting up with me through the years. I’ve had a lot of good people around me.”

He is only the third coach in the history of the program dating to 1923. Harvey Roels, whom the Chisholm gymnasium is named in honor of, was the school’s first coach from 1923 to ’55. He was followed by O.J. Belluzzo from 1955 to ’61. McDonald, who played under Roels, was named the Bluestreaks’ coach in 1961.

Chisholm has appeared in 11 state tournaments over five different decades under McDonald. The Bluestreaks have won three state championships, in 1973, 1975 and 1991.

“It’s always good when you win,” McDonald said. “Losing is a downer.”

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Tag(s): Featured  Star Tribune  History  Chisholm  Hibbing  Walker-Hackensack-Akeley  Barnum  McGregor