In an era when every school in Wisconsin competed in a single division, Dodgeville – with just 400 students – found itself matched up against schools more than four times its size as it made its state tournament run.
Hard-driving coach John “Weenie” Wilson was on a mission to nurture and build a class of champions, leveraging his own background of being a highly accomplished athlete and motivator. Wilson took a group of gifted and dedicated student-athletes, indoctrinated with small-town values, and put them on a course that lifted the Dodgeville basketball program to undreamed-of heights.
Dodgeville would come up one victory short of the title in 1963, taking home the silver ball for the school’s trophy case. However, Wilson and his players had no intention of being a one-hit wonder, and when the 1963-64 basketball season began, they had only one goal in mind: getting that gold ball.
The Dodgers cruised through the regular season unbeaten and incredibly found themselves as one of the tournament favorites when they returned to Madison for the state finals. This time, against a vaunted Milwaukee North squad, the Dodgers would not be denied.
Wisconsin had its own, real version of the Hoosiers story, and the Dodgeville Dodgers of 1964 had staked their claim to history.
About the Author
Rick Birk is a former college athlete who with a lifelong love of sports. He has coached at the grade school, high school and college levels. Rick now resides in Scottsdale, Arizona, with his wife, Terry. He is deeply committed to the values that define the integrity of sports and is a strong advocate of family values.
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