Basketball Memories from Ruben Grosshuesch '43

During the 1944-45 year at Mission House, Tony Rusch, the athletic director, made all of the basketball schedule arrangements for the college team. One of the teams on our schedule was Thiensville Seminary of the Wisconsin Synod Lutheran Church. This was a team made up of former players who had been with Northwestern College at Watertown. The Thiensville team was often just as good, and, some years, even better than when they played at Northwestern.

About two weeks before our game with Thiensville Seminary, their coach & manager called Tony and pointed out that our game was scheduled for Ash Wednesday evening. Tony did not realize this; neither did I. The Seminary manager then explained that they would come to Mission House as scheduled and play the game; however, they would prefer not to have the game reported to the Sheboygan Press or the Milwaukee Journal. They wanted no publicity about the game. Tony agreed that there would be no reporting of the game to the press.

The night of the game, I recall walking over to the gym and hearing the bell of Immanuel Church calling the congregation and student body to the Ash Wednesday service.

The game was played with fairly good attendance. After the game, Tony invited the Seminary team to join us in the dining room of Jubilee Dorm for lunch and fellowship. Mrs. Ley had prepared a lunch with fresh rolls.

The next day, the Mission House Seminary Profs let us know that it was not proper to play a basketball game on Ash Wednesday.

About 15 years later, I was making hospital calls at Sheboygan Memorial Hospital and met a Lutheran pastor in the lounge. During our conversation, I learned that he was pastor of Immanuel Lutheran Church in Sheboygan. I then recognized him as a basketball player at Northwestern College and, later, at Thiensville Seminary. I asked him if he recalled playing for Thiensville Seminary against Mission House College on an Ash Wednesday. He replied that he very vividly recalled, and never forgot, the occasion. His name is Herb Stelter. Every time Herb and I met at Memorial Hospital, we reminisced about the game. We not only played basketball on that Ash Wednesday; we also broke bread together after the game.

Many of the players on both teams became ministers in the Wisconsin Synod Lutheran Church and the United Church of Christ.


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