March 1984 was a golden moment in time for long-time Fergus Falls Otter basketball fans. That spring coach Bob Bjorklund led the Otter boys back to the state tournament, for the first time in 27 years.
“It was a long time in coming,” said sports fan LeRoy Quernemoen.
Tim Swenson made the winning basket in the closing seconds to give Fergus a two-point region final win over St. Cloud Tech to advance to state in 1984.
Bjorklund coached the Otter boys back to state in 1986 and 1990, with Quernemoen’s son, Barry, a member of the 1990 Fergus squad.
The highlight in 1990 was Fergus Falls defeating powerful Bloomington Jefferson in state quarter-final action at Williams Arena. It was a two-class system of high school basketball in those days.
Bjorklund is a Henning native who went on to coach men’s basketball at Bethel University north of St. Paul. He currently serves as athletic director at Bethel.
His son Tyson played basketball for his father at Bethel from 2002 to 2006 after graduating from Mounds View High School.
“Fergus was an amazing community for us to spend 17 years,” Bjorklund said. “Community, church and school life give our family tons of reasons for fond reflection.”
His wife, Carol, also is a Henning native.
Their son Tyson and wife Katie have three children, Gunnar, 6, Finley, 4, and Henrik, 2. They live in Shoreview, Minnesota.
Daughter Alisa Johnson and husband Dave have three children, Kyler, 16, Drew, 14, and Sawyer, 11. They live on a dairy farm near Willmar and close to Kerkhoven.
“Keeping in touch with Fergus Falls friends and Fergus happenings and returning to Fergus occasionally over the last 21 years has been a delight,” Bjorklund said. “Alisa returned for her 20-year class reunion last summer. Tyson was best of friends with Matt Johnson (current Otter boys basketball coach) before we left Fergus in 1997 when both were eighth graders.”
He says he “always lights up” when he sees a Fergus Falls athlete recruited by one of his coaches at Bethel.
Fergus Falls High School boys and girls basketball teams have used the Bethel gym when they are in St. Paul for state basketball tournament action. Bjorklund works to give them priority over any other groups in the college gym.
“Bethel University is an incredible place for preparing young people for the next phase of their life's journey,” he says, “and has been a good working environment for me over these past 21 years.”
A recent professional highlight for Bjorklund has been his involvement as a committee member on the NCAA Division III Men's Basketball Committee.
“We are a group of eight who represent different regions of the United States and select the field of 64 for the DIII Tournament.”