If you’ve been on the hardwood in North Dakota, chances are you’ve also been in The Hoopster, an annual basketball preview book that’s been around for 41 years.
It’s a tradition started by Don Hanson, a long time high school basketball coach and sports aficionado, who shared his passion for preps hoops with the entire state through a book filled with stats, projections and history.
“Basketball just always was his first love, and the sport in North Dakota is really big,” Don’s son Perry explained. “He just had a genuine love for it. Every one of us has just kind of taken that on and we’ve all been basketball coaches, every one of us.”
With Don’s health declining, his son Perry took over as editor. As a basketball coach and educator himself, sharing the same passion as his dad.
“I would take it over to him, at that time he was in a nursing home and I would just go over and spend nights with him, and amazingly he could look through the pages and go, ‘No you need to move this here for this reason. You need to move this here for this reason.’ So I learned a lot as I went,” Perry said.
Don died in 2018, but there was never a doubt the Hoopster tradition would continue.
“It’s a rewarding thing for us,” Perry said. “I guess being a teacher and a coach it’s kind of why you were brought up to take care of kids, and you hear a lot about how they could read about their days in the Hoopster book, you know as a preview. I think that it obviously means a lot to people in North Dakota.”
From salesman to editor, Perry’s seen the book change substantially over the years with the biggest movement being the digital era.
“I’ll never forget the first time I told dad, I said, ‘Dad you can email this.’ He goes, ‘Well they aren’t going to answer.’ I said, ‘Oh I think they will,'” Perry said with a laugh.
Since then the book has grown from shelves to computers, but the the idea remains the same – give local athletes the recognition they deserve and uphold the Hanson Hoopster legacy.
“I feel pretty comfortable that we’ve done a fairly good job of keeping up his legacy,” Perry said. “I didn’t realize the overall volume of that was needed to put a book together until the first full year, and then you just kind of get to see how much dad did, and that’s when I realized that it’s awful nice to keep this in the family.”
With every turning page the thought of his dad remains in the back of Perry’s mind.
Perry says as long as the people of North Dakota keep supporting him he’ll continue The Hoopster, and maybe even one day his son will take over to continue the family tradition.