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A season of memories for Watertown Arrows and Rohde family

Nate Wek
South Dakota Public Broadcasting

The Watertown Arrows are back at the state girls basketball tournament this week for the first time since 2009. On top of that, they’re coached by Chad Rohde, who is in his first year at the helm. Rohde was a first-year assistant coach under Pat McClemans in ’09 during the Arrows championship run.

This season, not only is Rohde the head coach for the first time in his 15 years at Watertown, but he’s getting to share the experience with his daughter Maddy, who is a senior guard on the team.

“I definitely enjoy coaching her,” said Chad with a smile on his face. “When I can be with her more than other fathers, it’s really fun. And we do a good job of separating basketball and home, so it’s good.”

For Maddy, it’s equally as special.

“He’s the one who taught me basketball when I was really young, so I got to start with him coaching me in like travel ball and then finishing it off senior year, it’s cool to see how everything has grown since then,” Maddy exclaimed.

Maddy has an interesting twist to her story as well. Last spring, she took up javelin with the high school track and field team. In her first year of participating in javelin, she qualified for state and placed second. Next year she’ll continue her career in javelin at the University of South Dakota. Once basketball season concludes, her focus will shift to high school track and field.

“I don’t know how track practice will work, because our track is under construction right now,” chuckled Maddy. “So, we’ll have to find something to do, but I love javelin, it’s my favorite event.”

But for now, Maddy and her dad are focused on soaking up the experience of being at the state basketball tournament together.

“Everyone thinks AA is easier to get to the state tournament, because you only have 19 teams to choose from, but when you have the quality of players and quality of teams that you have in our state, especially in the metro area, it’s pretty tough to get here,” Chad explained. “Having my daughter go through this, and the other seniors too, it’s pretty special. You always want your kids to have that opportunity to play in the state tournament. When I was a player, I got to play in the state tournament, so for her to have this opportunity, it’s incredible.”

When Watertown last made it to the state tournament in ’09 with girls hoops, they had to beat Sioux Falls Lincoln to get in. This year, in the SoDak 16, they once again had to face the Patriots with a ticket to the state tournament on the line. The Arrows were victorious in the contest 38-36.

“It means a lot, because this year we tried focusing on changing the culture of girls basketball at Watertown,” Maddy said. “When we won our playoff game, it was fun to see all the little girls from the traveling teams, being able to celebrate it with us. Being able to start the fire again, it’s really cool.”

Watertown enters the ‘AA’ state tournament as the No. 8 seeded team. They’ll play top seeded Sioux Falls Washington in the quarterfinal round at 11 am CT on Thursday from the Sanford Pentagon in Sioux Falls.

Nate Wek is currently the sports content producer and sports and rec beat reporter for South Dakota Public Broadcasting. He is a graduate of South Dakota State University with a Bachelor of Science degree in Journalism Broadcasting and a minor in Leadership. From 2010-2013 Nate was the Director of Gameday Media for the Sioux Falls Storm (Indoor Football League) football team. He also spent 2012 and 2013 as the News and Sports Director of KSDJ Radio in Brookings, SD. Nate, his wife Sarah, and two kids Braxan and Jordy, live in Canton, SD.
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