- Associated Press - Sunday, November 20, 2016

ABERDEEN, S.D. (AP) - For longtime Brown County sports fans, the Dacotah Prairie Museum is rolling out a walk down memory lane.

For newcomers to the area, it’s a chance to learn some history.

The Aberdeen Museum’s newest exhibit, “Brown County on the Gridiron,” had its grand opening to the newly remodeled second-floor gallery, the Aberdeen American News (https://bit.ly/2g0fORq ) reported.

The exhibit displays football artifacts from area high schools and colleges, including uniforms, coach’s jackets, news stories, helmets and more. Groton, Aberdeen Roncalli, Aberdeen Central, Warner, Presentation College and more are represented.

It also has activities for children - or rambunctious adults -including ladder drills, a high jump marker and a working microphone for broadcasting football plays imagined or remembered.

Perhaps the crowning piece of the exhibit is a display with four mannequins modeling full Northern State football uniform - pads, helmets and all - through the years. It starts with an authentically produced facsimile of the uniform that would have been worn by Northern State players as early as 1909.

The effort to compile the exhibit started from scratch and has taken about six months.

“We have baseball artifacts, but we had nothing for basketball, we had nothing for football,” Lora Schaunaman, Curator of Exhibits said Tuesday. “Our sports department is really slim. It came from the schools, from individuals who sent us stuff. We went on Facebook and Twitter. Lots of places.”

Schaunaman, who was one of the chief assemblers of the exhibits, hopes it will be a chance for people to come together and remember the past both recent and less-so.

Living examples of Brown County football’s most recent history were walking around the exhibit on Tuesday.

Northern State football players Brendon Hoellein and Matt Thorson, graduates of Aberdeen Roncalli and Groton, were respectively present for the grand opening. The players wore their own Wolves uniforms right alongside the mannequins. Taking a look at the pictures and artifacts on display, they fit right in with the exhibit, a part of history themselves.

“It’s cool to see your teams back there, and with both of us playing around the area, and then the Northern exhibit too, seeing the Northern jerseys, we were part of both the high school and the college aspects of this,” Thorson said.

Thorson pointed out photos of players he’d played with at Groton as a freshman. Hoellein identified the jacket with the name of his coach, Terry Dosch, embroidered on the breast.

“It makes you feel really special,” Hoellein said. “Like, you always say you’re a part of something. Well, now you can really see that you’re a part of something bigger than yourself. Even just your team, how you’re a part of the history of the team or a school.”

Thorson laughed, thinking about it.

“It kind of makes you feel old,” he said. “You’re in a museum now.”

Schaunaman sees the new exhibit being a big draw for the museum.

“I really hope that we’ll have some community support that people will enjoy of all ages and bring back some memories. Talking about specific teams, specific games, towns, just memories of the sport,” Schaunaman said. “And if it’s successful that way I think we’ll just keep doing one sport after another.”

The plan is for the exhibit to last about two or three years before rotating to another sport, Schaunaman said. She hopes baseball will be next.

“It’s probably the oldest in Brown County because the pioneers played baseball,” Schaunaman said. “Well, and also horse racing.”

Horse racing might be a harder exhibit to put together.

But for now, football is the name of the game.


Information from: Rapid City Journal, https://www.rapidcityjournal.com

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