What does it take to put on a 93-team youth basketball tournament that includes lining up the venues, registering teams, forming brackets, getting concessions ready and handing out 720 individual trophies?
It takes a person like Bruce Wiese.
The 48-year-old Wiese, who's from Nisswa, is one of the key cogs of the Brainerd Basketball Association. His main duty is to coordinate the basketball tournaments that come to town, like this past weekend's Paul Bunyan Classic in which 93 boys' teams in grades 4-8 were to come to Brainerd. Next weekend, 88 girls' teams will come to Brainerd for another tournament.
"My job is to get everything ready for tournaments," Wiese said. "A lot of the other board members help out and that's helped me out as well. It's a lot of work but it's worth it."
Bruce Wiese, Nisswa, unloaded items for the concession stand for a 93-team tournament put on last weekend by the Brainerd Basketball Association. Brainerd Dispatch/Steve Kohls » Purchase reprints of this photo.
Wiese's work has not gone unnoticed. Brainerd Warriors girls' and boys' coaches Carl Hendrickson and Matt Urbanek have worked with Wiese as co-chairs of the BBA and have seen firsthand his tireless work.
"Bruce has been doing pretty much everything for a number of years," Hendrickson said. "He's been a strong voice in support of all of the programs we try to offer in order to make basketball in Brainerd better.
"He's invaluable because not only does he have a passion for the game, but for making Brainerd basketball something to be proud of. We appreciate everything he's done."
Wiese became involved in the BBA through his son Jonathan's love of basketball. Jonathan plays for the Warrior sophomore team and is the youngest of four Wiese children.
Jessica, Christina and Anthony have all moved out of the house but while they were home, they were all involved in sports ranging from dance and Alpine and Nordic skiing to track and field.
"We always tried to encourage the kids to go out for sports," said Wiese. "It's rewarding to see them work hard at something like sports. Jon just loves football and basketball so I try to instill that passion of sports into other kids."
Favorite way to spend a Saturday: Probably watching sports.
Proudest moment: When my kids were born.
Favorite basketball team: My son's sophomore team.
Words to live by: Be aggressive and work as hard as you can.
LeBron James or Kevin Garnett: Kevin Garnett plays for Minnesota and I'm a Minnesota boy.
Favorite Minnesota sports team: Vikings.
Wiese also coached youth football for five years and has enjoyed watching young athletes progress. He told the story of one seventh-grade football player who came up to him and said he wanted to quit.
"I just encouraged him to keep working at it and to hang in there," said Wiese. "This year that same kid was starting on the Warriors' football team as a sophomore. The big thing with kids is to just encourage them to keep at it and to not give up."
In addition to helping put on tournaments Wiese deals with many parents throughout the season. While sports and parents can be a volatile mix, Wiese said due to the BBA's consistency the past couple of years he hasn't dealt with many problems.
"We've been more consistent and the parents know what to expect once the season starts," Wiese said. "We preach team a lot and don't think too much of individualism. If the parents understand from the beginning that makes a big difference."
Wiese was also quick to deflect the notion that he works alone. He pointed out that board members Brian Spreiter, Tim Martin, Roger Geraets, Kari Kraemer, Jim Kramer, John Cullinane, Pam Hayes, Dave Branum, Wayne Mueller and Jennifer West are vital in the BBA's operation.
"The other board members are just as much a part of what we do as I am," Wiese said. "I don't do all of this by myself. We all kind of work behind the scenes."
TROY GUNDERSON can be reached at email@example.com or 855-5865.
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