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Play about storied Flying Dutchmen comes to Edgerton

Performances are June 10-11.

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Justin May (from left), Ben Farniok, Barb Roy, Evan Lemmerman, Nick Meyerson and Ben Nolan will share the story of the famed Edgerton Flying Dutchmen in a play set to take the stage in Edgerton June 10-11.
Submitted photo
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EDGERTON — Barbara Roy’s mother, Stella Branchaud (Mrs. B), was credited with helping save the life of Edgerton basketball hero Dean Veenhof.

Now Barbara is doing her best to keep alive the legacy of the famed 1960 Flying Dutchmen state championship boys basketball team.

Barbara was in sixth grade some 62 years ago. She recalls the basketball season like it was yesterday.

“When they started winning it was so exciting,” Barbara said. “We idolized those older guys, the cheerleaders and everybody associated with the team. It was a very big deal.”

Barbara, a 1966 graduate of Edgerton High, is a longtime educator and playwright. She recently spent nearly two years writing a play about the historic Flying Dutchmen season, which culminated in an amazing run to the championship of what was then Minnesota’s one-class basketball tournament.

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Justin May (from left), Linda Dhalen and Ben Farniok are among the cast members who will bring the story to life.
Submitted photo

It was an underdog episode for the ages.

Coming soon to Edgerton’s auditorium is Barbara’s play about the hometown heroes who became undefeated state champions.

The Flying Dutchmen defeated favored teams from Mankato, Richfield and Austin en route to the state championship. Tiny Edgerton, population about 960 — the smallest town ever to win a state championship — was thrilled.

The state of Minnesota was, and still is, amazed.

Barbara attended many Edgerton home games in 1960. Her parents were among many who traveled to the Twin Cities for the Flying Dutchmen championship run.

And young Barbara was among thousands who celebrated when the hometown heroes were feted in a parade after securing the seemingly impossible triumph.

“The town was packed,” she recalled. “We waited a long time for the team to come because they stopped in other towns on the way home. Those towns wanted to cheer for them, too. I remember you could hear the fire trucks when they were coming into town.

“It was the biggest thing that ever happened to Edgerton. It was really, really exciting. I mean it was a big deal.”

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While Barbara realizes many in southwest Minnesota already know the story, she hopes to bring it back to life a little when her play comes home to Edgerton High School at 7 p.m. Friday, June 10, and 1 p.m. Saturday, June 11.

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Posing with original Flying Dutchmen jerseys from 1960 are Justin May (front, left) and Ben Farniok; and back: Nick Meyerson and Evan Lemmerman.
Submitted photo

“I hope people will come and see the play and remember the story,” she said. “Or maybe hear about it first-hand. It’s a family-friendly and funny play with a big lesson on how we need to work together.”

The Flying Dutchmen won those games all those years ago in the school’s tiny J.H. Brovold gymnasium.

“He was a science teacher (and coach) who was instrumental in getting basketball going in the early days,” Barbara shared.

The gym is still used in Edgerton, although not for varsity basketball. There is still a stage on one end. And still very little room between the out-of-bound endlines and the wall. Wooden benches where Flying Dutchmen fans once jammed together are now lonely reminders of glory days past.

More than 60 years ago, however, what tales they told. In the coming weeks, those stories will resurface.

Barbara, who graduated from University of Minnesota-Morris and worked a few years at Edgerton High before moving on and spending the majority of her education career in Delano, now lives in Bloomington.

Several of her former English and theatre students in Delano will be part of Barbara’s production. She has been in contact with all of the surviving Flying Dutchmen players and has invited them to watch the play.

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It was suggested to Barbara that when the curtain goes up on June 10 it will be a proud moment.

“It’s been heartwarming for me — and a little scary, too,” she said. “I hope people like it and get something out of it. I basically tell the story and tried to do it in a fun and humorous way. To make the characters real people.

“I hope that people will take away how this town affected these boys. They say it takes a village and I think this is a good example of how they were raised and what the town’s values were. And also how important it was to work together as a team. And how you don’t have to be from the biggest town in order to win.”

Among the 1960 Edgerton heroes are Darrell Kreun, Norm Muilenburg, Bob Wiarda, Dean Verdoes, Rob Dykstra, Jim Roos, Daryl Stevens, Darwin Fey, Leroy Graphenteen, Tom Warren, the late Larry Schoolmeester, and coach Rich Olson.

Barbara wasn’t born in Edgerton. She came to town when her father landed a teaching job in Flandreau, S.D., and her mother, Mrs. B, was hired to teach business at Edgerton High. She considers the small Pipestone County village home, and while researching the Flying Dutchmen story came across details that endear the town even more to her heart.

Barbara received a letter from Veenhof that mentioned Mrs. B, who at one time or another had all the basketball players in class.

“My Mom was the typing teacher, and he wrote to me that because he could type so well he didn’t see combat in Vietnam,” Barbara said. “And he wrote ‘I credit your mother with saving my life.’”

Barbara pauses for a moment.

“That,” she says, “was special.”

Scott Mansch can be reached at smansch5rockets@gmail.com

Related Topics: EDGERTONEVENTS
Scott Mansch, who in a crowded Viking tavern has been known to say “Go Pack Go” at times in complete disregard for his health, can be reached at smansch5rockets@gmail.com
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