PINE RIVER -- Pine River-Backus boys' basketball coach Bob Nelson has the best seat in the house when it comes to watching his son play.
And thanks to scheduling by the Park Region Conference he can watch his daughter play, too.
Nelson has been coaching boys' basketball for 23 years and the past three years have been especially nice for him.
Last year Nelson went 21-5 and 9-0 in the conference, and this year his team is ranked ninth in the state and boasts an 8-2 record. But success is nothing new for Nelson, who has a career coaching record of 332-159.
What has made these last three years the most memorable is that, like his own father, he gets to coach his son, senior point guard Adam.
"When the kids were growing up they'd be in the gym. While I had practice Adam was always there shooting. We put up a basket in the basement when he was old enough to walk and Brittany was doing the same stuff.
"I think it's been great because it's something to do with your kids," said Nelson. "A lot of times in this society people don't do enough things with their kids. It's a great way to spend time with them."
When he's not coaching he's sitting back watching his daughter Brittany, who's a sophomore play.
"I've had my dad as a coach since third grade and it's helped a lot," said Brittany. "If he wasn't a coach I'm not sure if I would be in it. I wouldn't be as good because I wouldn't have started as early as I did."
The way the Park Region Conference schedule works could not be better for Nelson when trying to watch his daughter play basketball. If the boys have a game on Friday then the girls play on Thursday, and vice versa. That makes it easy for Nelson to coach his son one day and watch his daughter the other.
"I talked to Dave (Galovich) over in Crosby and the boys and girls play on the same night so he doesn't get to see his daughters play very much," Nelson said about the benefit of the scheduling.
With basketball as a focal point, the Nelsons have been able to grow closer together as a family. Although it's not the only aspect, it's a big part of their lives. It's enabled the parents and children to enjoy a common interest and has worked as a gateway into other conversations and activities.
"We just recently built a cabin and we go on fishing trips up north," said Adam. "We get on each others' nerves once in a while, but it's just like every other family."
In the winter it's all basketball. Practices take up the weekend. Then there's little kids' basketball on Saturdays, where they work, and Sunday night open gym. So it's seven straight days of basketball for the Nelsons.
Nobody has been burnt out from the sport. In fact, Adam thinks if it wasn't for basketball things would be a little different.
"I would probably be coming home a lot later on school nights and probably wouldn't be so good if I didn't have something to come home for," Adam said. "That's one reason I like to come to school because you know you have basketball afterwards.
"I'd probably be sitting home watching television," added Adam, who hopes to go on to college and play either basketball or football. "I would be lazy and out of shape."
"I wouldn't be doing anything besides just hanging out with friends," Brittany said.
The one constant besides basketball in the Nelson household is dinner after practice. While son, daughter and husband are off playing games, Betsy Nelson is home working hard over a hot stove.
"She knows exactly when we all get home," said Adam. "We're at school and she's at home making dinner but it's nice because we all come together and eat together and find out what went on in each others' day. After that who knows what's going on but at least we have that hour.
"She's really supportive of all of us," said Adam. "Once in a while she gets fed up with it. We can't go on vacations because of basketball.
"She comes to all of our games, though, and she's right behind us."
Coach Nelson wouldn't give up his life or his family for anything and he believes basketball has made his job as a father a little easier.
"We spend so much time together because of basketball," said Nelson. "Adam and I are together at practice all the time so we talk there and we're always crossing paths with Brittany. I just think that's time I get to spend with my kids that a lot of parents don't get to. That's a privilege to do."
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