On Monday, the University of Minnesota Crookston unveiled the renovated court at Lysaker Gymnasium, the home of the Golden Eagles' men's basketball, women's basketball and volleyball teams.
The court, which was sanded down, repainted and sealed in its entirety this spring, will now be known as Gary Senske Court, for former UMC men's basketball head coach Gary Senske.
"I am very excited to announce the naming of the floor at Lysaker Gymnasium to honor Gary Senske," athletic director Stephanie Helgeson said in a release. "Gary's passion for the University of Minnesota Crookston is unmatched. He was a staple on the sidelines at Minnesota Crookston for 21 years and has continued to be active with UMN Crookston after his retirement. His presence was very noticeable not only in the region but also state-wide with coaches, recruits, parents, and friends of the University.
Gary is the longest-standing coach ever and one of the most successful we have had at UMN Crookston. I see no one more deserving of this honor than Gary Senske."
“It means a lot (having the court named after me),” Senske added in the same release. “I know when I was first told about it I got a strong feeling in my chest and I got kind of choked up on it. I never anticipated that the court would be named for me. It is there and it will be there for a long time."
Senske won 176 games at the Golden Eagles' helm between 1981 and 2002. He coached the team at three different levels: beginning when they were a junior college and competed in the NJCAA as the Trojans, during their time in the NAIA, and finally coaching through their transition into the NCAA Division II.
Senske's legacy at Minnesota Crookston includes winning 61 percent of his games, including 12 consecutive winning seasons, a division championship, four division runners-up, a state championship, and a Region XIII runner-up finish.
"I was there in 1981 when the facility was opened," Senske said. "The changes that have occurred over the last 40 years have been a lot. My memories in Lysaker Gymnasium are the players and what took place on the court. A number of wins and number of losses. The good times and bad and all of those things put together. It is a whole lot of emotion and a whole lot of feeling that goes into that because it was a big deal for myself and for the campus when we first moved into the new gymnasium. For this to happen, as well, is an emotional experience that I will never forget, nor will my family.”
Senske retired in 2002 and currently resides in Perham. He was inducted into the Minnesota Crookston Athletics Hall of Fame in 2004. His son, Steele Senske, who played for his father from 1988-90, was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2007.
"I'm very excited for Gary and family," said women's basketball coach Mike Roysland. "He was a great ambassador for UMC athletes and basketball. I always respected him and his program. This is a great thing."
Lysaker Gymnasium was built in 1981 and is named after former UMC athletic director and coach Hersch Lysaker.
The remodeled court continues the renovation that began last summer, which involved new bleachers, a new sound system and a new Keemotion live stream and instant replay camera system.
In addition to the new floor, the facility will also have brand-new portable basketball goals next season.
"The court's gonna be great," said current men's basketball head coach Dan Weisse. "I thought our court was nice last year, but this is really a big upgrade. It looks sharp, and I know our guys are excited to play on it. We sent the guys pictures of it and all that. It will be nice to play on."
The Lysaker Gymnasium floor project was completed by the H2I Group. The floor, originally installed prior to the 2007-08 season, had not been sanded down and repainted in the 13-year span.
The new paint scheme includes “Gary Senske Court” on the south side of the floor, “Minnesota Crookston” on the north side of the floor, “Golden Eagles” on both baselines, “M Crookston” logos in white in all four corners on the north and south side, and gold “NSIC” logos just under the free throw line on the east and west sides.
In addition, the Golden Eagle logo was enlarged from the previous iteration.
"We are very excited and grateful to play our 2020 season and beyond in the newly updated Lysaker Gymnasium," said volleyball head coach Sarah Rauen. "The gym gives our student-athletes, fans and community a first-class place for games, practices and events. I am honored to coach on Gary Senske Court, and we are very thankful to all the donors, alumni and workers who made these upgrades a reality."
A dedication for the floor is slated for the fall of 2020. The first volleyball game is currently scheduled for Sept. 18 against University of Sioux Falls, while the men's and women's basketball programs are still finalizing their 2020-21 schedules.
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