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Amputee Passes B’Ball Lessons On As Assistant Coach

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(credit: CBS) John Lauritsen
John Lauritsen is a reporter from Montevideo, Minn. He joined WCCO-...
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By John Lauritsen, WCCO-TV

HOWARD LAKE, Minn. (WCCO) — To Dave Marquardt, farm life in rural Minnesota means taking care of his Holsteins and spending time with his son Adam, who he hopes will someday take over the family business.

Dave was almost 2 years old, about the age Adam is now, when life presented him with an incredible challenge.

“I was just a curious 2-year-old kid who was in the wrong place at the wrong time and snuck around when dad wasn’t looking and got my arms stuck in the grain auger,” he said. “Lost them both.”

Doctors tried to reattach one of his arms, and replaced the other with a prosthetic. Almost before he could walk, Marquardt had lost the use of his arms. At least, that’s the way it first appeared.

“He doesn’t see it as a handicap or a situation. He just thinks, ‘That’s what God did to me and there’s a reason,'” said Dave’s wife, Julie Marquardt.

It didn’t take Dave long in his life to figure out what that reason was. In 1996, he was featured in a WCCO story as a basketball player for Holy Trinity High School in Winsted.

The sport had become his passion and fans and teammates knew it, even though baskets were a little hard to come by.

“I think I only scored three points from 7th through 12th grade, if that tells you anything. I think that might be a record for anyone in the state who has played six years of basketball to only score three points in his career,” he said.

But to focus on points would be wrong. The seeds were being planted for something beyond layups and free throws, something that would take full advantage of Dave’s basketball mind.

The teenager who used to sit at the end of the bench and tell the coaches what to do is now a junior high coach for Lester Prairie/Holy Trinity. The shooting touch he developed in his mind, even if his body was unable to perfect it, has found success among his seventh-grade team.

“He’s always teaching,” said Julie. “He’s not the type of coach that says, ‘You screwed up, now sit there.’ He’s always very encouraging to them and showing them how to improve.”

On the night WCCO caught up with Dave, his team beat one of their arch rivals. But perhaps the most important lesson his players will learn is to not give up on something you love.

“The kids are always worried about what other people are thinking, but when we grow up we realize we can’t worry about what other people think. We have to make ourselves happy and do what we enjoy,” said Dave.

Dave has also coached girls varsity. He and his wife just gave birth to the couple’s second child three weeks ago, a son named Brant. Dave said he is secretly hoping both his sons not only become farmers, but basketball players, as well.

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