Dakota Valley Panthers All In For ‘Big Rosie’
Dakota Valley is back at the state basketball tournament this season as the Panthers continue to ride the best win streak in ‘A’ boys basketball history, which currently sits at 51 consecutive victories. But for one member of the Dakota Valley squad, there are more emotions at play than just what’s happening on the court.
Panthers senior Randy Rosenquist Jr. has a heavy heart directed towards his family. A few weeks back, his father, Randy Rosenquist Sr., suffered a stroke, and is still in the hospital. To honor his dad, Randy Jr. wrote some words on his shoes.
“I’ve got a couple words that I’ve heard that my dad has told me, that people have told me,” Rosenquist said. “I feel like those words mean a lot in my life.”
Words like “Keep Fighting,” “Grind,” “Perseverance,” and “Love You Dad,” can be seen in black sharpie on the white shoes. There’s also the text “Gma” on them as well, which is towards Rosenquist’s grandma, who is also going through some health issues at the present time.
“It’s been tough, especially pregame, a lot of the games I just walk out there and see he’s not there. My grandma, who’s also going through some stuff, she’s not there also,” Rosenquist explained. “Seeing them not there kind of hits me in the heart, come back in the locker room and let my emotions out, but I know once the buzzer starts, it’s go time.”
The Panthers squad is also wearing special t-shirts at the state tournament to show their support for 'Big Rosie.'
“The Rosenquist family has been through a lot, specifically Randy Jr’s dad Randy, who has been involved with these kids since they were little. Been a big supporter of our program in a lot of ways,” said Dakota Valley head coach Jason Kleis. “Awful deal, he’s still in the hospital and doing a little bit better, but our guys care about him, love him, we all do, and we’re pulling for him. It’s kind of been our rallying cry to try and give the guys a little more purpose. I don’t know if they need that, but it’s pretty special deal.”
For Randy Jr., the t-shirts came as a bit of a surprise.
“I wasn’t expecting them, and then when I saw them it just kind of hit my heart,” said Rosenquist. “Makes me feel good. The whole team, whole communities got my back no matter what, and I’ve got a bunch of texts, calls, conversations, makes me feel good.”
“I’ve played against ‘Big Randy,’ I’ve known him for 30 years,” Coach Kleis explained. “Like I said, he’s been a big supporter. You coach kids, it’s never perfect for anybody. Randy’s been a big supporter of ours and he’s had a lot of great kids come through Dakota Valley and we just want to try and get this one for him, it’ll be pretty cool. “
Dakota Valley defeated Hot Springs in the quarterfinal round on Thursday at the state ‘A’ tournament in Sioux Falls 80-47. The Panthers come in as the defending champs in ‘A’ with a win streak of 51 also attached to their resume.
“The win streak’s been pretty cool and special,” coach Kleis said. “I’ve been coaching a long time and to see a group just come together like this after so many years of being together, and just seeing these kids grow up, I get teary eyed every time I think about what they’ve accomplished, win or lose the rest of the way.”
“One last run with the boys, one last tournament, one last playoff. It’s all just surreal knowing that it’s coming to an end, but just got to fulfill every moment,” said Rosenquist. “It would be great to just know we did it again with all the stuff that’s happened this year, just to know we can battle adversity and fight through anything.”
Dakota Valley will play Hamlin in the semifinal round on Friday night at 6 pm CT in Sioux Falls.