Charlie Banks (1924-1998)
Nomination written by Mark S. Helmer, longtime personal friend of Charlie and Charlie's family, and co-founder with Charlie of the Korkki Nordic Ski Center.
Charlie grew up in the 1930's in the Chester Bowl area of Duluth. It was there that Scandinavian immigrants taught him the Alpine and Nordic disciplines, lessons he learned well and which formed the foundation for his passion and love of winter sport.
Charlie was an accomplished athlete. He was the Minnesota State CrossCountry champion in 1942 and competed at the highest levels his entire life. He was a tireless champion of winter sport, coaching at Duluth Central High School for 27 years. He created a 10-kilometer trail system behind his home where many ski events were held, including the Erik Judeen Memorial Classic in 1960 and the USSA Junior Nationals in 1967. He was a lifelong member of USSA and active in promoting jumping and nordic events in the Duluth area from the 1960's until his death in 1998.
His accomplishments were many, including two state championships while coaching at Central. But Charlie was not about winning championships or medals. He simply loved the camaraderie, the kids he coached, and the many friendships he made through his involvement in the sport. He especially enjoyed the young men and women he coached that had little talent but much determination. SISU. He would tell me stories of so-and-so who couldn't ski 10 feet without falling over but, as he would say, "were just plain tough".
An extremely modest man who never had a harsh word for anyone, Charlie only had words of encouragement and good cheer. He made an indelible impression on all who knew him. In a cafe in a small Montana town, a waitress overheard a conversation I was having with my nephew. I had mentioned our work on the ski trail at Charlie's and she asked, " Charlie? Are you talking about Charlie Banks? He was my coach in high school!"
Charlie had a saying which I think sums up his positive attitude and general good nature. He would say, "All my kids were good kids; even the bad kids were good kids".
His dedication to coaching is indeed a triumph in the sport of crosscountry skiing. As a "secondary" sport in the schools, and before the sport grew in popularity, Charlie labored in anonymity. It was difficult to get funding for his team. Charlie would joke that he "couldn't get a tube of wax from the district". But in that stubborn way that made him the athlete he was, he would drive the kids out to his trail 20 miles from the school, train and coach them, eat his supper, give his athletes a cup of hot chocolate, and then drive the kids back to Duluth where he would teach night school. This occurred while he was raising his own four daughters, teaching high school, and grooming the trail.
Charlie has left a legacy rich in tradition and memory: the Erik Judeen Memorial Classic race is now over 40 years old, the Korkki Nordic Ski Center flourishes on the beautiful trails he crafted with an axe and grub hoe in 1954, and a memorial fund established in his name assists cross country programs in area high schools. Charlie's lessons were taught by example more than words. He had that Will Rogers shyness, humor, and folksy wisdom. Each of us who had the good fortune to know Charlie was left a better person, and that is his greatest accomplishment and gift to us
Victor C. Dunder Sr. (1901-1983)
Father of High School Inter-Scholastic and State Level Skiing Competition
Victor C. Dunder taught high school physical education and coached football, basketball and flycasting at Duluth Central High School. In the winter of 1931 a high school student and ski jumper by the name of Billy Anderson approached Victor Dunder and asked him why there was no inter-scholastic competition in skiing at the high school level. Mr. Dunder took Billy’s question to heart, made a few phone calls and set up what was to be the first high school level inter-scholastic competition in the United States, the Arrowhead Ski Tournament. Duluth Central and Greenway High School participated in this inaugral event. Under Victor C. Dunder’s direction and leadership, what was a two-team meet in 1931, developed into the first Minnesota State High School Ski Tournament in 1932. The first state tournament was held at Chester Bowl in Duluth and consisted of just ski jumping. In 1933 cross country skiing was added to the competition and the Duluth Central Trojans coached by Mr. Dunder won their first of 19 state championship titles, four of them under the coaching of Victor C. Dunder. Mr. Dunder was not an accomplished ski jumper or racer. His strengths in coaching skiing were that he loved all sport, he listened to students needs, he provided avenues of opportunity and he was willing to work hard to develop new ideas.
Victor C. Dunder Sr. was born in Sweden in 1901. When he was two years old his family immigrated to America and settled in Two Harbors, Minnesota. Victor attended high school in Two Harbors and was an outstanding athlete in basketball and football. He attended college at the University of Minnesota. He paid his way through college by working on the mining trains in Two Harbors during the summers. Victor was a star guard on the University of Minnesota basketball team. In his senior year (1925-26) Victor was chosen as captain of the team. After graduation, several colleges and high schools actively recruited Victor to coach basketball. He decided to accept a position in Stillwater to coach and teach accounting. Between the period of 1927 and 1936 he married Jubie Ann Carlson, had three children, Victor Jr., Mary Beth, and Willa. He also taught in Willmar, Minnesota, earned an M.A, from Iowa State University and accepted a teaching position at Duluth Central High School.
By all accounts Victor C. Dunder was a man who loved athletics, loved people, and loved children. When a new city park was proposed in Duluth, the designers left out a playground for children based on the assumption that a playground was not beautiful enough for the park. At a public hearing on the matter Victor spoke out in favor of a playground and said. “ What could be more beautiful than the sound of children playing?”
After a long career of service to students, Victor C. Dunder retired as the athletic director for all of the Duluth Public Schools in 1966. In retirement he loved golf, and was active in the Kiwanis and his community. He died in 1983. Every high school ski meet in the country owes a debt of gratitude to Victor C. Dunder for his vision and willingness to provide opportunity to student athletes in all sports.
Nomination Submitted by Dave Johnson, President MSHSNSCA, September 25, 2002
Nancy Bauer has spent the past 30 years involved in almost every aspect of nordic skiing. Her interest in skiing began in 1972 when she and her husband, Bill, decided to try the sport. She participated in her first ski race shortly afterward and enjoyed success - she knew this was a sport to love. She and her husband introduced their children to cross-country skiing very early in the boy’s lives. It wasn’t long before Nancy and Bill couldn't keep up with John and Bruce. In 1988 her son, Bruce, was a senior at Anoka High School and she was offered the opportunity to become the assistant nordic ski coach. She accepted and felt that this transition was a natural one; the team already seemed like it was part of the family. Two years later she was named head ski coach for Anoka High School; a position she held from 1990 to 1999. She had many skiers participate in the State Meet during her tenure as head coach; a highlight for her was qualifying three skiers in one year to participate in the State Meet. Nancy served as secretary/treasurer for the MN State High School Nordic Ski Coaches 1994-1996 and from 1997-1999. She was elected by her peers to lead the MSHSNSCA as president from 1996-1997.
Presently, she works as a substitute teacher in the Anoka School system where her husband is a full-time teacher. In addition to teaching, they alsoown a berry farm. Bill and Nancy continue to help the local high school skiers by grooming the ski trails.
When asked to reflect back on her career as a coach she feels that her greatest success was acting as a role model to inspire several of her former skiers to become coaches. Nancy remembers with pride the year that both of her sons, John and Bruce, participated in the same MSHSL State Ski meet. Another highlight was watching her son, John, participate as a nordic skier in his third Olympics at the 2002 Salt Lake City Games.
Nancy Bauer has made a tremendous contribution to the sport of nordic skiing as an involved and supportive parent, an inspirational coach, a leader of the coaches association and now as a supportive community member. It is with pleasure that I nominate Nancy Bauer for the Minnesota State High School Nordic Ski Coaches Hall of Fame.
Submitted by Paula Anderson ,Ely, Minnesota, Fall 2002