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Luitjens Reflects On Past And Present

February 16, 2011, 10:06 PM by Matt Holsen

Luitjens Reflects On Past And Present
In his more than four decade long career as a head coach, Larry Luitjens has amassed seven state titles and more than 700 career wins.

Once again this year, his Custer Wildcats are one of the top Class A teams in the state. So how has he been able to keep up that success over time? His assistants says he's softer now, but he has other ideas.

Like many of the classic Luitjens' teams of the past, this year's version of the Custer Wildcats is small but fast.

"You know we don't have a lot of size but we've got a lot of quickness and just hard workers. I don't have a slacker on the team," Luitjens said.

That effort has led Class A's No. 5 squad to a 13-4 record helping Luitjens, already the winningest boys basketball coach in South Dakota history, to an even more stellar career mark. But it hasn't all come easy.

"I had that bike accident 8 years ago and I was very fortunate to live through it. I was pretty depressed and then afterwards I got out of coaching there and I didn't want to come back. But the better I got, then the more excited I got about it again," Luitjens said.

Two of Luitjens former players are now assistants on his staff. They often give him grief about how he is now compared to how he was in the past.

"They both say that I'm a lot softer now than I was when they were playing. They said I was a lot tougher on them. To a degree it's probably true, but I'm not soft," Luitjens said.

It's anybody's guess just how long Luitjens will continue to coach. He doesn't know himself. What we do know is he will be around next year. Why? He's got a date with another legendary coach, Mitchell's Gary Munsen.

"So I saw him and got to talking and said, 'Let's Play.' He said get ahold of your AD; I'll get ahold of mine. Two days later they said, yeah, we're going to do it," Luitjens said.

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