By John Lauritsen

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Parents will go to great lengths to watch their kids play sports. In this case, John and Tania Turnbull traveled nearly 10,000 miles to watch their son Jack play for Ridgewater College in Willmar.

“I always wanted to come and play college sports. We have nothing like this back home,” Jack Turnbull said.

Home for the Turnbull family is in Adelaide, South Australia. After coaches at Ridgewater saw his online basketball video, they brought him to Willmar, where he’s experienced both a culture and climate shock.

“Everyone says it’s negative 20 (degrees). You’re like, ‘Yeah right.’ You get here and your nose is freezing, your ears are freezing. I wasn’t prepared at all. People had to give me a hat and gloves,” he said.

It’s summertime in Australia right now. So the temperature swing this time of year between South Australia and Willmar, Minnesota can be as much 100 degrees at times.

Jack’s had a couple months to get used to winter. But for his parents, who came to watch him play for a couple weeks, going from a heat wave to a deep freeze has been a challenge.

“It’s bloody freezing,” John Turnbull said.

“We don’t have snow. We don’t get even to zero. To get to minuses, like he said, it’s bloody freezing here,” said Jack’s mom Tania.

Bloody freezing, but bloody worth it.

The Turnbulls have been able to travel across Minnesota and watch Jack play a series of games.

On Wednesday night against Riverland Community College in Austin, he put on a clinic. Jack hit his first nine three-point attempts, and had 27 points in the first 12 minutes.

“I’m not really an athletic guy so I rely on my shooting,” Jack Turnbull said.

It’s worked out pretty well for him and his teammates, though there’s the occasional “Crocodile Dundee” joke and his accent doesn’t go unnoticed.

“There are some imitators. The old ‘cheers, mate’ saying and they try and imitate me a lot,” he said.

But Jack Turnbull wouldn’t change his Northern Exposure for anything. He’s hoping to transfer to a four-year school in Minnesota when his time at Ridgewater is done.

“The people here are really nice. At first I was thinking about going south, but after a short time I think I might hang around Minnesota,” he said.

Jack Turnbull’s parents said that “Minnesota Nice” is a real thing, and despite the cold, they have definitely enjoyed being here.

Jack Turnbull is hoping to get a degree in education and teach back home in Australia after he graduates.

John Lauritsen