Originally Published: March 5, 2008
The Rolling Mustangs played two exhibition games on Saturday with heavy hearts, as this was their first game played following the death of former head coach Dale Erickson. Erickson, 49, passed away on Feb. 26 following a long, courageous battle with cancer.
The team has decided to dedicate the rest of this season to Erickson. They will have his initials “D.E.,” embroidered on their jerseys.
In Saturday’s action, the Mustangs played against the Minnesota Junior Rolling Timberwolves. The Junior Timberwolves is a youth wheelchair basketball team that is sponsored by the Courage Center. All team members are currently in high school.
The game started out quickly for the Mustangs as Nathan Peitz connected on a quick basket to score the game’s first points. After Peitz scored, game action was stopped as he gave the game ball to Erickson’s wife, Mary. The games continued but it was clear that Erickson was on the minds of the team members.
Co-head coach Paul Weiland played five seasons under Erickson from 2000 until 2005 and was an assistant the next two seasons before being named to his current position last fall. Lew Shaver, the other co-head coach, was coach of the Rolling Mustangs when Erickson was a player and was the coach prior to Erickson taking the position in 1996.
“People have to remember that Dale saved this program. There was really no one to step in [when I retired]. Without him, the program wouldn’t be here,” said Shaver.
The Mustangs won both of Saturday’s games, and will go on with Erickson on their minds. Next up for the team is a trip over Spring Break to the National Intercollegiate Wheelchair Basketball Tournament in Stillwater, Okla. The team will leave Wednesday morning and the tournament is Friday through Sunday.