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KHS instructor honored for nearly 40 years of dedication to Kenmare sports

Al Scherbenske, retired KHS business teacher, knows his way around the school’s gym.

9/09/09 (Wed)

 

Al Scherbenske, retired KHS business teacher, knows his way around the school’s gym.

 

“I kept track over the years,” he said. “I officiated about 1500 games, either kept book or ran the clock, for girls basketball, boys basketball, volleyball, wrestling, football and even track when we hosted.”

 

So it was only fitting the Kenmare High School playing floor was renamed the “Al Scherbenske Court,” with a dedication ceremony taking place September 1st, just before the varsity volleyball match between Kenmare and Ray. As usual, Scherbenske was holding the microphone, just as he’s been doing at Honkers’ sports events for the past 39 years.

 

Teacher and sports official

Scherbenske arrived in Kenmare during the fall of 1969, a new graduate in business administration from Jamestown College. The college’s job placement office had a notice about the Kenmare opening and Scherbenske was offered the contract.

 

“They haven’t been able to get rid of me since,” he said. “I also had farming interests, so it worked very well to teach here. And I found [wife] Barb here, when she came back as a student teacher in Phy. Ed. That was a good thing!”

 

Scherbenske worked 35 years as a full-time business teacher at Kenmare High School, then spent the past five years as a half-time business instructor. Although he never coached any Honkers team, he devoted a large portion of his time to Kenmare High School sports.

 

“I did a lot of officiating, beginning my second year here,” he said. He grinned and continued, “I remember dressing [for games] in the jail at the Memorial Hall!”

 

When he started officiating, Scherbenske had a little experience with sports. “I competed as a high school student, but I was not gifted as an athlete,” he said. “Fortunately, I went to a very small school! For me, it was the love of being part of a team.”

 

In some capacity, Scherbenske refereed junior varsity, junior high and grade school games in Kenmare, including some football and plenty of girls and boys basketball. “I did not referee varsity [games] in Kenmare,” he said. He also arranged his commitments during the years the Scherbenskes’ son Kevin participated in KHS sports to avoid any conflicts of interest and to watch his son’s performances.

 

Taking over the microphone

Scherbenske started announcing for KHS sports events during his second year at the school along with current North Dakota Secretary of State Al Jaeger, who was then a teacher in Kenmare. “I was keeping the book and announcing or running the clock and announcing for varsity games,” said Scherbenske. “I worked with [Al] for two years, then he left and I was on my own.”

 

Scherbenske admitted to enjoying the microphone. “I love it!” he said. “It’s very easy getting excited about introducing quality athletes.”

 

Anyone who has attended a Honkers’ sports events in the past four decades can recognize Scherbenske’s clear voice announcing each team’s starting players with precision and enthusiasm. He requires little preparation before a game or match, other than reviewing the names of kids from the opposing teams and checking pronunciations with the coaches.

 

“When you grab the mike, you have to get excited for young people,” he said, “and when there’s not a lot of people in the stands, you make it sound as if this is the game of their life.”

 

He smiled again. “And it’s really fun when you get to announce for a state championship team,” he said.

 

When he started officiating, the school did not offer volleyball or girls basketball. Scherbenske was happy to add both sports to his schedule. “I think it was great,” he said. “It’s equally as thrilling for me to watch girls [play sports] as guys.”

 

With at least 1500 games behind him, he was reluctant to choose an especially memorable contest. “I’ve seen a lot of victories and a number of defeats,” he said, adding that he just enjoys the competition.

 

Al Scherbenske Court

The renaming of the Honkers’ playing floor came as a surprise to Scherbenske. “I nearly broke into tears the first time I saw it, in early August,” he said.

 

KHS principal Scott Faul called Scherbenske and asked him to stop at the school. “I was met by Mr. Faul and [KHS superintendent] Mr. Mueller,” said Scherbenske, “and we walked into the gym and went up into the bleachers, where I could see the words for the first time.”

 

He continued, “I still don’t know what to say. It’s a great honor, and I’m very grateful for it.”

 

Even though Scherbenske retired from the school district, he plans to continue contributing to the KHS sports scene. “I hope to fulfill my role of announcing and keeping the clock for a number of years yet,” he said. “I’m still going to stay very active.”

 

He also wants to maintain contact with students. “I love to teach, particularly accounting, and I miss working with young people,” he said, “but I’m going to sub [for other teachers] whenever they call.”

 

He and Barb, who retired last spring from her position as school librarian, have stayed busy through the summer with their large garden, selling produce at the North Prairie Farmers Market in Kenmare each Thursday. They plan to travel some, especially to visit son Kevin, his wife Angie and their three children in Bismarck.

 

The Honkers’ home schedule will certainly factor into Scherbenske’s calendar, however, as he takes his place behind the microphone on the “Al Scherbenske Court.”

 

“It’s a very special part of my life,” he said. “I’m definitely a Class B, but in particular, Kenmare Honkers fan. I’m very honored my name appears on the court!”