February 23, 1983—Letter to Reporter Editor

Dear Sir:

Lester has had basketball for a long time. Lester played the first game in this county, with Larchwood in 1916 on an outside court.

Fred and Bill Haegele, Harold Wick and myself and others that I don’t remember were on the team.

The rules were much different then. We could take three steps and could have body contact so there were probably only 10-15 fouls per game.

A few years later we had a team that played three games a week. We went from town to town. We would take the train on Monday and come back on Saturday night and have a game at home that night.

That team was run by Ray Bonynge. We would play teams from Sioux City and Minneapolis. One time we played Rock Rapids and we run a special train from Sioux Falls to Rock Rapids, they would pick people up at Sioux Falls, Granite, Larchwood, and Lester and go to Rock Rapids and back to Sioux Falls that same night. It was Olsen Sporting Goods team that we played in Rock Rapids.

Jake Schoelerman was one of our best supporters, he would take the team out to supper after a hard game to Fats Inn. That’s all the pay we got.

We had many more good teams after that. One year our team won the tri-state tournament in Sioux Falls. That was when the Lohman boys played on the team.

We had many good high school teams after that. There were many games played at Lester from 1918-1950.



The Lester Softball teams have been playing in Lester for over forty years. In 1946-47 they played some ball but didn’t have a decent place to play. In the summer of 1947 Louis Boom, Jay and Roy Hoogeveen looked over the present sight, which was a pasture with trees and shrubs, and decided that it was possible to develop. They spent many hours clearing ground, getting landlord permission, etc., that summer and fall. During the winter they organized a softball club and proceeded to borrow from business men and private persons enough money, $1300, to buy equipment and supplies to put up a lighted field. In the spring everyone pitched in and built the field with backstop, fence poles, lights, etc. and by late spring were ready to play ball. Uniforms were donated by business men and the softball team were on the way. In a few years all those that lent money were paid back.

In the beginning there was a gate charge and a tournament to help meet expenses. The team also sponsored fireworks, on the 4th of July for several years. The teams were not in a league, but played teams from all around such as Sioux Center, Sheldon, Hills, Steen, Ash Creek, Hardwick, Tea, S.D., Rock Rapids, Rowena, Valley Springs, etc. Later a league was formed that simplified scheduling. Some of the first league members were Steen, Ash Creek, Hills, Hardwick, Valley Springs and Magnolia. Later teams to join the league, now called the Border League, were Luverne, Ellsworth, Alvord and Rock Rapids.

An early manager was Rev. Voightman, who also played. He was followed by Louis Boom, Roy Hoogeveen and Roger Myrlie. Some of the pitchers included Jerry Van Berkum, Casey Mouw, Duane Stuerman, Bob Stuerman, Duane Jongerius, Marion Van Engen, Don Borman, Roy Hoogeveen, Daryl Hoogeveen, Dean Hoogeveen, Jerry Hoogeveen, Jerry Caswell, Jr. Van Wyhe, Jeff Hoogeveen and others.

Softball has been played every year since 1948 except one year. Later a little league was organized to play the same night as the senior team, with almost every team having a little league team. It has been popular, and now a large percentage of the senior teams have come through the little league.

Field and lighting has been improved with each year and now most teams have an outfield fence and a dugout for players, scoreboard, etc. Later the town purchased the present field and take care of lighting expenses, etc. There have been improvements such as a new club house, volleyball court, basketball court and playground equipment.

Fast pitch softball is still alive in Lester, and also many are playing slow pitch softball in recent years.

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