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Miner girls got it good

As I was doing the research about the history of girls basketball in Grass Valley, one emotion constantly nagged me: jealousy.

That’s right, every time I watch a game or practice or get a call from Nevada Union coach Duwaine Ganskie about another win, I can’t help but envy the girls who play for the Miners and the opportunities they are given.

The high school I attended was in a suburb of Milwaukee and the school wasn’t built until 1962. Needless to say, there wasn’t a whole lot of time to establish a strong foundation for a girls basketball program, as strong anyway as the NU program, by the time I was in high school.



During my two years of playing varsity basketball, I’m ashamed to admit that if we won more than six games a year it was a successful season.

Playing for a conference championship was something we all dreamed about, but a few games into the season that dream faded away. We just didn’t have a strong enough program, a strong enough history of success or the support from the community to think about competing with the powers of our conference.




It’s obvious, however, that these things all exist here for Nevada Union.

In a town where football draws thousands for every game, the community has also found a place in its heart to reach out to and support girls athletics – especially basketball.

When Jan Roth brought those tickets into the office, I was immediately struck by how deep the girls basketball roots in this area go back.

In many towns, support for girls sports is minimal at best and that is a sad fact.

Upon coming here, a former sports editor of mine asked, “how are the hoop teams there?”

When responding to his question, I immediately thought of the girls teams in the area. I smiled as I proudly told him that all three of the varsity girls teams are extremely strong and last year one of the teams (Forest Lake Christian) even won a state championship.

The strength of the girls basketball programs, especially that of Nevada Union, did not happen by accident and the teams aren’t just getting lucky each year with their success.

In talking with current Nevada Union girls basketball coach Duwaine Ganskie, he told me about a theory other coaches have about why NU is always so strong.

He said that the Grass Valley area doesn’t have the distractions that some communities, like the big city scenes of San Francisco and Los Angles, have. Without the malls or the clubs, the kids have more time to focus on athletics.

While there may be some truth to that theory, I think foundation for the success of the NU program is the support the girls have had over the years – and the talented coaches that have built the program to breed success year after year.

In past conversations with retired NU coach Craig Strohm, one of his former players and Ganskie I have heard about the days where girls games were sell-outs. The gyms were so packed that they had to actually turn people away at the door.

How great is that?

The teams had so much support they couldn’t even fit everyone in the gym.

Wouldn’t it be something to see that happen on a consistent basis again?

This community has long supported its girls basketball teams – something I hope will still be the case in 2116 when Jan Roth’s tickets turn 200 years old.

And hopefully this community can still make women like me jealous, that they too didn’t have the opportunity to play for a program filled with such a rich history and strong showing of support.


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