- Associated Press - Sunday, November 20, 2016

WILLISTON, N.D. (AP) - For the past 35 years, student athletes experienced wins and losses, but they could expect one constant - an interview with Jon Cole.

“Williston has an unbelievable sports tradition and to think that they would put your name on a brand new gym, it’s just so surprising,” Cole said, after receiving news that his love for the community would immortalize him on the walls of the new high school. “This is one of the greatest honors I can ever have in my life.”

The North Dakota Sportscasters and Sportswriters Hall of Fame inductee has been a staple within the community since 1981 and has been almost as prominent as the rule book.

Students and coaches have cycled through the region over the years but Cole remains an ingrained memory for the positivity he exudes in his story telling. He’s served as a conduit for the student athlete and those tuning in from home.

“He would always find a twist to make a student feel good and that, alone, is an art,” Tate Cymbaluk, a Williston city commissioner and the person who started the drive to honor Cole with the naming, said.

With the completion of a new high school, passing conversations about whether dedication or endowment would be considered for the new court. This prompted Cymbaluk to turn back the pages of old yearbooks and begin making calls.

His idea to name the court in Cole’s likeness received unhesitating support.

Cymabluk’s desk soon began collecting letter submissions until the stack neared 50 recommendations, filled with deep personal gratitude for Cole’s service to the community. Each letter carried common themes of dedication and loyalty although each telling a different variation of how they arrived to that.

Consideration came before the Williston Public School board on Monday night which brimmed with retired coaches.

“He doesn’t just interview the kid that scored 30 points but also interviewed the kid that sat on the bench because he played just as an important role,” Cymbaluk said to the board when delivering his case.

After brief deliberation among board members, some who were interviewed by Cole when they were student athletes themselves felt he was fitting of more - not just the court, but the entire gym, the Williston Herald (https://bit.ly/2fC6RN8 ) reported.

Board member Brion Norby motioned for the naming of “Jon Cole Gymnasium,” which received a unanimous vote in favor.

“This community and those kids are Jon’s life,” Cymbaluk said. “It’s clear that naming the gym would be a wonderful tribute.”

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Information from: Williston Herald, https://www.willistonherald.com

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