Chisholm's Bob McDonald rolls six decades of coaching into one book


After 59 years of coaching high school basketball, more than 1,000 career victories, 11 state tournaments and three state championships Bob McDonald will be forever remembered as a northern Minnesota coaching legend.

McDonald was the head basketball coach at Chisholm High School from 1962 through 2014. Prior to that, he also had stints in Barnum and McGregor, so this winter is the first time since 1954 that he is no longer pacing courtside, designing plays on marker boards or lobbying officials for calls.

Now, he has traded all of that in for the opportunity to write.

McDonald recently teamed up with author Melody Swenson to write his new book "Travels and Tribulations: A Coach's Journey."

And as Minnesota's winningest basketball coach, McDonald certainly has a story to tell.

McDonald graduated in 1951 from Chisholm High School, where he played basketball. He also played at Hibbing Junior College and was on the 1952 team that finished as the National Junior College Runner-Up. He graduated from the University of Minnesota-Duluth in 1955, where he also played forward for the Bulldogs.

But McDonald tells the Duluth News Tribune that he's not all hoops.

"I always thought my life was such that I encompassed more than basketball," McDonald told the newspaper. "I think it gets a little dry if you just think about gymnasiums and bouncing a ball and wins and losses."

The book outlines some of McDonald's other loves including poetry, painting and pups – especially beagles.

In the book, McDonald highlights his early struggles, his thoughts on the game of basketball and his beliefs in the value of community and family.

McDonald and Swenson are touring northeastern Minnesota. Their book signing tour started in Chisholm Thursday, and the authors have several other scheduled stops, according to Hometown Focus:

  • Dec. 16 5-8:30 p.m. Barnum vs. McGregor basketball game at the Barnum High School.
  • Dec. 20 1:30-5 p.m. UMD vs. St. Cloud State basketball games at UMD's Romano Gymnasium
  • Dec. 29-31 Hibbing Holiday Basketball Tournament, Lincoln School
  • Jan. 15 12-1 p.m. Virginia Public Library, Virginia
  • Jan. 19 10 a.m.- 5 p.m. Martin Luther King, Jr. Classic Basketball Tournament, UMD Romano Gym
  • Jan. 24 6:30-8:30 p.m. Lakeview Christian Academy vs. Ely basketball game, Old School Lives in Cotton

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