Braham’s coach Vaughan to be inducted into Hall of Fame

Recognized for his years of service and achievement, Braham coach Bob Vaughan will join the elite cast of the Minnesota Basketball Coaches Association’s Hall of Fame. The induction ceremonies will be held at the MBCA Hall of Fame Luncheon on Saturday, Nov. 2, at the Hyatt Regency Hotel in Minneapolis after two days of clinics.

Coach Bob Vaughan celebrating with Braham fans after the Bombers clinched their first of three straight Class AA State titles with a win over Martin Co. West back in 2004.
Coach Bob Vaughan celebrating with Braham fans after the Bombers clinched their first of three straight Class AA State titles with a win over Martin Co. West back in 2004. NEWS file photo

Vaughan enters this season with a career mark of 583-164, all at Braham. He ranks ninth on the Minnesota hoops coaches all-time win list as his Bombers have filled the trophy case with many Great River Conference titles, including on a run of 10 straight championship seasons. The Bombers won Class AA State championships in 2004, 2005 and 2006, and Vaughan has coached seven teams to state overall.

“It came as a complete surprise. Turns out my wife (Carol) and Jeremy Albright, the coach at Rush City, have been working on this for two years. The process is they got a number of people to write letters of recommendation, then in June, they (the MBCA) called me,” said Vaughan during an interview at halftime of the Sept. 6 Bomber football game in Aitkin. “It’s an honor because of the people who are already in the Hall of Fame. When you look at those names, you see the most famous names in Minnesota basketball history. And I get to go in with (Hopkins coach) Kenny Novak who is a friend of mine. So it’s a really neat experience.”

Along with Vaughan and Novak, the 2013 MBCA inductees will be Laurin Carroll, of Luverne, and Vern Johnson, of Grygla-Gatzke.

Vaughan has been teaching and coaching at Braham for 32 years, 28 as the head boys basketball coach. He was also a long-time fast-pitch coach and an assistant football coach.

When Vaughan first arrived in town in the 1981-82 school year, he worked as the assistant coach under Bruce Young. Prior to that, Braham’s head basketball coach position went through years of turnover ever since Len Froyen retired. Young, still running hoops at Long Prairie-Grey Eagle, also is a MBCA Hall of Fame member.

“The relationship to this community evolved over the years. When we came to Braham, as you know, there was no program. We were absolutely terrible those first seasons; we won one game our second year here. It took years and years to build. It was only through the people of Braham who were willing to do all the things to help the program grow.

“And you had to get lucky a bit,” Vaughan continued. “The last 15 years, honestly, I really feel we have had the best players in Classes A and AA – at little Braham High School. And maybe in boys and girls, which is just an incredible achievement when you have classes of 50 to 70 students. That’s why it’s a community effort. I may get the accolades and everything, but it’s the people who are running traveling basketball. People who drive their kids up to open gym all the time. And we have had superstars who have carried the program. Yeah, I’ve been really blessed – really, really blessed.”

It’s no secret that being an instrumental part of Braham basketball is a full-time commitment, with much learning taking place over the summer off-season.

“This summer, our varsity played probably 43, 44 games. Our JV played about 20, and our ninth graders played about 15. So they are getting to play all summer,” Vaughan said. “They work at it, and they have to. Basketball is a skill game. You get just enough people to work at those skills, then we have the other guys who just work their living butt off, willing to sacrifice for the greater good. And that’s been the key to our success.”

This coming season will have Braham basketball shifting sections again for the playoffs, moving from the northern-oriented Section 7AA from the past several years to the central/metro-look Section 5AA.

“Just like football, we’re going to be extremely young. We have one senior back in Zach (Dahlman), one junior in Randy (Braund), and we’ll probably play five sophomores, maybe six, and we’ll play some other younger guys,” Vaughan said. “We’re in a new section again which has probably more depth than 7AA – both boys and girls – a lot of outstanding programs. We were two enrolled students away from Class A. To me, it’s totally illogical that we’re not in the same section as Rush City and Pine City. Instead, we’re in a section with Howard Lake, Providence Academy, Minneapolis Patrick Henry.

“I mean, we’re Braham: What are we going to do, complain? I was thinking about this: Is there a school in Minnesota that has had a state tournament entrant – boys or girls – the last 10 years? Hopkins maybe? DeLaSalle? I don’t think so.”