Elijah Solum brings the ball down the court while defended by Reid Klug of Caledonia during sixth grade action at the Legacy Invitational Basketball Tournament in Spring Grove. Photo by S. Lee Epps
Elijah Solum brings the ball down the court while defended by Reid Klug of Caledonia during sixth grade action at the Legacy Invitational Basketball Tournament in Spring Grove. Photo by S. Lee Epps
The Legacy Invitational Basketball tournament was held on March 3, 2018, at Spring Grove to raise money for Spring Grove athletic scholarships and programs while also honoring the legacy of Spencer Olson and Gary Strinmoen. There were 22 games, featuring 15 teams of third through sixth grade boys from five schools - Lanesboro, Rushford-Peterson, Caledonia, Lanesboro, La Crescent and Spring Grove.

Spencer Olson and Gary Strinmoen were pioneers of the Spring Grove youth and varsity sports scene. They both were founding members of the Spring Grove Athletic Boosters, which is an all-volunteer organization whose mission is to sustain and promote the on-going participation of all Spring Grove Public School youth in quality athletics.

In the early 1990’s, Olson and Strinmoen, along with other parents and community members, had a vision of promoting school spirit, strengthening the Spring Grove athletic programs, and supporting students at Spring Grove Public Schools.

“Both Spencer and Gary were always all about the kids!” said Candy Oefstedahl, another founding member of the Boosters. Candy recalled the beginnings of the Boosters organization - a few friends reminiscing about Homecoming and how much fun that week used to be when they were in school.

Their ideas quickly turned into action. The Boosters grilled thousands of pork burgers (and later pork chops on a stick) at games and other community events to raise money for the athletic programs. They designed and sold Spring Grove Lions clothing items. All of the funds raised were put back into the local athletic programs.

Strinmoen and Olson could often be spotted in Homecoming skits. They worked hard to bring back the snake dance and bonfire and found countless ways to engage student athletes, fans, community members, parents, and young children. They started “Fan Appreciation night,” as well as developed awards such as “Fan of the Year.”

They organized many athletic activities for student athletes, including ninth grade basketball tournaments, free throw contests, Punt, Pass, & Kick contests, and halftime shooting contests during all home basketball games. They traveled with youth teams and continually sought opportunities for Spring Grove youth.

With their leadership and continued legacy, the Athletic Boosters can provide financial support for athletic programs and have been able to help fund the purchases of jerseys, uniforms, weight room equipment, scoreboards, backboards, a new main gym floor, volleyball nets, the Lion Pride mural, banners and other athletic equipment.

Long ago, the Boosters made a commitment to ensure that all students, including those with limited financial resources, could participate in sports. Olson & Strinmoen personally secured new shoes, participation fees, athletic clothing, rides to athletic events, and meals for traveling students – a tradition that continues today.

The Athletic Boosters have also been involved in large renovation projects including the construction of the Crows Nest, the remodeling of the concession stand and adjoining bathrooms, renovating the baseball diamond, dugouts, and football field - all at the Blayne Onsgard Memorial Field.

“I have always considered Spencer & Gary the ‘Founding Fathers’ of our booster club and a cornerstone to all Spring Grove athletic programs,” shared head boys basketball coach, Wade Grinde.

Although neither of these two pioneers are still with us, their legacy lives on not only through the physical improvements at the school and at Blayne Onsgard Memorial Field, but also through the continued activity of the Booster Club, their families and community volunteers - many of whom were young athletes whose lives were impacted by the dedication and efforts of Spencer Olson