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Babe and Betti Sherman never hesitated to celebrate their ties with northern Minnesota and Bemidji State University.
Babe and Betti Sherman never hesitated to celebrate their ties with northern Minnesota and Bemidji State University.

Babe Sherman was proud of northern Minnesota roots

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sports Bemidji, 56619

Bemidji Minnesota P.O. Box 455 56619

The Bemidji State University Athletic Hall of Fame features 170 former athletes. The list ranges from Dr. Irvin Keeler who graduated in 1923 to 1985 grad Pam (Gildersleeve) Porter.

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Each of the school's athletic programs is represented and the honored athletes have made their mark in hundreds of professions and locals.

The Hall of Fame members took many different paths to Bemidji State and its athletic programs, but two of them followed the same trail, starting the journey in Hibbing and ending it in the special fraternity.

One of them was Ken "Babe" Sherman; the other was Jack Luoma. Both hail from the same block in the Park Edition of Hibbing and as kids they were inseparable.

Luoma was the elder by two years and he eventually found his way to Bemidji State. Sherman soon followed.

Sherman died of cancer earlier this month in Redlands, Calif. He and his wife Betti moved to California in 1955 but, despite the geographic chasm, the Shermans remained rooted in northern Minnesota.

Their cupboard always contained wild rice from the Leech Lake Reservation and a few times each year Babe and Betti would ask the Luomas to ship walleyes from the Bemidji Locker Plant.

"The rice and the walleyes represented a touch of home," Betti said.

Luoma graduated from BSU in 1948 and Sherman received his degree in history and physical education two years later.

Once Luoma decided to attend Bemidji State, there was a good chance that Sherman would follow.

"Babe went to Bemidji State because Jack and one or two other Rangers were there," Betti said. "The Rangers are a tight-knit group and, once he saw the lake, he knew Bemidji State was where he wanted to go."

Both men participated in football and basketball at Bemidji State. Sherman was a second-team all conference pick in football in 1948 and 1949 and he was the basketball team's leading scorer in the 1948-49 season.

Betti and Babe met in college and they married in 1952. Betti knew how to deal with athletes. Her dad, Mike Lagather, was the basketball and golf coach at Bemidji High School. He guided the Lumberjacks to the 1948 Minnesota state high school basketball championship and accomplished the same feat with the golf team in 1956.

Among his assistant basketball coaches was Bun Fortier. Years later Luoma would succeeed Fortier as the Lumberjacks head basketball coach and would lead BHS to another state title.

Following graduation both men entered the teaching profession. Luoma stayed in Bemidji and Sherman headed to Clearbrook to teach and coach.

"Coaches are supposed to hire neutral officials but Babe would always hire me to do football. I guess it's because he knew I would do a good job," Luoma said with a smirk.

"After the game I would give Babe and Betti a ride back to Bemidji and they would stay at our house for the weekend."

"Rangers always stick together," Betti said.

The Shermans moved to Redlands in 1955 and Babe worked with the school district. During the next 33 years he served as a teacher, coach, counselor and administrator.

After retiring in 1988 Sherman coached golf at the University of Redlands, winning three conference championships in seven years and finishing second three other times.

Trips to the NCAA III national tournament also were common during Sherman's tenure.

University of Redlands officials appreciated the golf success but they were more impressed with Sherman's demeanor and how he handled the student/athletes.

Some in Redlands even compared him to John Wooden.

"What Wooden was at UCLA, a coaching icon, a teacher, a friend, a mentor, Sherman was in a lot of ways the same in Redlands," wrote Kevin Trudgeon, a sports reporter at the Redlands Daily Facts newspaper.

"He was an avid member of the Rotary Club of Redlands and started the weekly student recognition awards that the club continues to sponsor on a monthly basis," Trudgeon added.

"Education has always been important to us," Betti said. "We both are so very grateful for the education we received at Bemidji State and Babe was thrilled to death to be inducted into the Hall of Fame. I know Jack (Luoma) was a go-between with the selection committee and when Babe was selected it was one of his biggest thrills."

The Bemidji State Hall of Fame lost one of its most deserving members this month but Babe and Betti are doing what they can to give more athletes the opportunity to earn a spot on that list.

"Bemidji State meant so much to Babe and to me," Betti said. "We have joined BSU's legacy program so we can help provide scholarships to future students.

"We are loyal graduates of Bemidji State and want to do what we can to help others," Betti added.

"When we were growing up the Shermans took me in and I became part of their family," Luoma remembered. "I've always appreciated that."

And, because of the Hall of Fame, Sherman and Luoma will always be part of a special family.

It's true. Rangers do stick together.

Y pmiller@bemidjipioneer.com

The Bemidji State University Athletic Hall of Fame features 170 former athletes. The list ranges from Dr. Irvin Keeler who graduated in 1923 to 1985 grad Pam (Gildersleeve) Porter.

Each of the school's athletic programs is represented and the honored athletes have made their mark in hundreds of professions and locals.

The Hall of Fame members took many different paths to Bemidji State and its athletic programs, but two of them followed the same trail, starting the journey in Hibbing and ending it in the special fraternity.

One of them was Ken "Babe" Sherman; the other was Jack Luoma. Both hail from the same block in the Park Edition of Hibbing and as kids they were inseparable.

Luoma was the elder by two years and he eventually found his way to Bemidji State. Sherman soon followed.

Sherman died of cancer earlier this month in Redlands, Calif. He and his wife Betti moved to California in 1955 but, despite the geographic chasm, the Shermans remained rooted in northern Minnesota.

Their cupboard always contained wild rice from the Leech Lake Reservation and a few times each year Babe and Betti would ask the Luomas to ship walleyes from the Bemidji Locker Plant.

"The rice and the walleyes represented a touch of home," Betti said.

Luoma graduated from BSU in 1948 and Sherman received his degree in history and physical education two years later.

Once Luoma decided to attend Bemidji State, there was a good chance that Sherman would follow.

"Babe went to Bemidji State because Jack and one or two other Rangers were there," Betti said. "The Rangers are a tight-knit group and, once he saw the lake, he knew Bemidji State was where he wanted to go."

Both men participated in football and basketball at Bemidji State. Sherman was a second-team all conference pick in football in 1948 and 1949 and he was the basketball team's leading scorer in the 1948-49 season.

Betti and Babe met in college and they married in 1952. Betti knew how to deal with athletes. Her dad, Mike Lagather, was the basketball and golf coach at Bemidji High School. He guided the Lumberjacks to the 1948 Minnesota state high school basketball championship and accomplished the same feat with the golf team in 1956.

Among his assistant basketball coaches was Bun Fortier. Years later Luoma would succeeed Fortier as the Lumberjacks head basketball coach and would lead BHS to another state title.

Following graduation both men entered the teaching profession. Luoma stayed in Bemidji and Sherman headed to Clearbrook to teach and coach.

"Coaches are supposed to hire neutral officials but Babe would always hire me to do football. I guess it's because he knew I would do a good job," Luoma said with a smirk.

"After the game I would give Babe and Betti a ride back to Bemidji and they would stay at our house for the weekend."

"Rangers always stick together," Betti said.

The Shermans moved to Redlands in 1955 and Babe worked with the school district. During the next 33 years he served as a teacher, coach, counselor and administrator.

After retiring in 1988 Sherman coached golf at the University of Redlands, winning three conference championships in seven years and finishing second three other times.

Trips to the NCAA III national tournament also were common during Sherman's tenure.

University of Redlands officials appreciated the golf success but they were more impressed with Sherman's demeanor and how he handled the student/athletes.

Some in Redlands even compared him to John Wooden.

"What Wooden was at UCLA, a coaching icon, a teacher, a friend, a mentor, Sherman was in a lot of ways the same in Redlands," wrote Kevin Trudgeon, a sports reporter at the Redlands Daily Facts newspaper.

"He was an avid member of the Rotary Club of Redlands and started the weekly student recognition awards that the club continues to sponsor on a monthly basis," Trudgeon added.

"Education has always been important to us," Betti said. "We both are so very grateful for the education we received at Bemidji State and Babe was thrilled to death to be inducted into the Hall of Fame. I know Jack (Luoma) was a go-between with the selection committee and when Babe was selected it was one of his biggest thrills."

The Bemidji State Hall of Fame lost one of its most deserving members this month but Babe and Betti are doing what they can to give more athletes the opportunity to earn a spot on that list.

"Bemidji State meant so much to Babe and to me," Betti said. "We have joined BSU's legacy program so we can help provide scholarships to future students.

"We are loyal graduates of Bemidji State and want to do what we can to help others," Betti added.

"When we were growing up the Shermans took me in and I became part of their family," Luoma remembered. "I've always appreciated that."

And, because of the Hall of Fame, Sherman and Luoma will always be part of a special family.

It's true. Rangers do stick together.

pmiller@bemidjipioneer.com

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