‘He’s a icon here’: De Smet community remembers longtime head coach

KELOLAND.com Original

DE SMET, S.D. (KELO) — The community of De Smet has lost an “icon.”  

That’s how Doug Osthus described longtime De Smet high school coach Marv McCune, who died Sunday after a battle with COVID-19. McCune, who was also recovering from leukemia, a type of blood cancer, was 66. 

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“He’s been a legendary coach in several sports for De Smet for many, many years,” Osthus said. “Everybody loved Marv in De Smet. It’s a really difficult day. It’s been a really difficult few days when we knew things were getting tough for Marv.” 

McCune led the Bulldogs to multiple state titles in both basketball and football, a feat only a handful of other coaches in South Dakota have been able to do. 

“Marv was a fantastic coach. It didn’t really matter what sport he was coaching, he had success,” said Osthus, who has led De Smet to multiple state championships in girls basketball. “He was just one of those guys that knows how to get the most out of kids.” 

Osthus played for McCune on De Smet’s 1987 Class B boys basketball state champion team — the first state champion team McCune coached. Jeff Gruenhagen also played on the 1987 team under McCune and said McCune’s death has come as a shock for the community. 

“We weren’t expecting this to be the outcome,” Gruenhagen said. “It’s still kinda hard to believe. Everybody is still trying to get through and sharing some stories. It’ll take a while.” 

Gruenhagen is also the current head coach of the De Smet boys basketball, which won the Class B state championship on March 20. He says McCune continued to stay involved with high school athletics and would attend some of the team’s practices this past season. 

“The boys respected him,” Gruenhagen said. “He was the guy that would do anything for anyone.” 

A member of the South Dakota Coaches Association Hall of Fame and the South Dakota Basketball Coaches Association Hall of Shrine, McCune was inducted into the South Dakota Football Coaches Hall of Fame in March. 

In football, De Smet were the mythical state Class 11B champions in 1980 and then won the state Class 11A (now Class 11B) state title in the first year of the state playoffs in 1981 with McCune as the head coach. 

In basketball, McCune led the Bulldogs to state Class B titles in 1987 and 1995 and a state Class A championship in 1999, which aired on KELO-TV.

Photo from the KELOLAND News archive.

“He was a great coach; he always made it fun,” Gruenhagen said. “He inspired so many kids to be great people when they graduate from De Smet.” 

Osthus said McCune was excellent at looking for opportunities for all of his students.

“He’s just a fantastic guy; there’s not anything I need to tell anybody that they probably don’t already know,” Osthus said. “Everybody loved him.”

According to an online obituary, funeral services will be at 10:30 a.m. Saturday at the De Smet High School. 

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