- It’s an odd number. It’s the number of days in seven months of the year. It’s a card game. It’s the day New Year’s Eve and Halloween are celebrated. It is also the code for international direct-dial phones calls to the Netherlands. But for one area family it became an interesting piece of a puzzle that was put together a week ago.
When the Laker gals defeated the Luck Cardinals last Tuesday evening in Luck it marked the first time in 31 years the Laker girls were Lakeland Conference Basketball Champions. It also signifies three generations of a Laker family becoming conference basketball champions.
Al Thill was a member of the 1961 Laker team that captured the Western Lakeland Conference Championship when they defeated Clear Lake 61-39 in the final conference game of the 1960-61 season. Team members included Al Thill, Tom Perrault, Allen Kuhl, Don Hagen, Ray Nykanen, Ned Anderson, Don Bown, Randy Karkkanen, Fred Lindberg, Larry Verby and Norm Levy. They were coached by Al Anderson.
31 years later Al’s son, Brian, was a member of the 1992 Laker team that went 12-2 and won the West Lakeland Conference Championship. Members of that team, coached by Todd Johnson, were Jamie Torgerson, Brian Thill, Kurt Molls, Jason Fredericks, Danny Raffesberger, Todd Richter, Eric Collins, Tim Gillette, Justin Hoff, Jesse Nitchey and BJ Brenna.
And once again, 31 years later, a Laker basketball team has captured the Lakeland Conference crown. Brian’s daughter, and Al’s granddaughter, Mariah, is a member of the 2023 girls’ team that became conference champions outright when they defeated the Luck Cardinals. This year’s team, coached by Angie Wagner and Keefe Tarman, consists of Jaylee Humphrey, Haleigh Strenke, Dakota Adler, Mariah Thill, Shayna Rainey, Courtney Tarman, Mackenzie Tarman, Taylor Andersen, Cami Popenhagen, Hailey Duffee, Olivia Hinze and Katy Hegg.
So, while to many it’s just a number, it’s worth noting that it may be more common of an occurrence than we know but it is quite unique to have three generations of a family remain in the same area and school district for that length of time. And then to see the coincidental circumstances of a love for the sports turn into an interesting outcome such as this.