Tradition builder: The rock behind Trinity’s success, Grinsteinner continues adding to hall-of-fame resumeDuring the last 19 years, Dickinson Trinity head boys basketball Greg Grinsteinner has collected two Class B state championships, three runner-ups, 10 total state tournament appearances, coached the Class B Lions All-Star team five times and was named Coach of the Year in 2004.
By: Royal McGregor, The Dickinson Press
During the last 19 years, Dickinson Trinity head boys basketball Greg Grinsteinner has collected two Class B state championships, three runner-ups, 10 total state tournament appearances, coached the Class B Lions All-Star team five times and was named Coach of the Year in 2004.
However, he said none of it has come easy.
Grinsteinner nearly walked away from coaching basketball before finishing runner-up in his first state tournament appearance in 1999.
“I was an assistant at Trinity since 1987,” he said. “When I started my first year in 1994, it was a tough year. We had 13 teams in the district and we lost in the play-in game. There have been a lot of headaches and there have been times when I thought about getting out of it. My first three years were a very rocky road.”
Over the last 16 years, however, he has built the Trinity boys basketball program into a powerhouse which consistently ranks in the top 10 of the Class B poll.
“Now, you are just finding out you have a system in place and you trust what you are doing,” said Grinsteinner, who has a career record of 386-91. “You keep trying to get yourself better every year by going to clinics, talking to other coaches and meeting with other coaches.”
After making the state tournament seven consecutive seasons from 2001 to 2007, Trinity has started selling tradition. Once the tradition is place, the players want to next team to make it to the state tournament.
“Grinsteinner is probably one of the best coaches around,” Trinity senior post Jesse Kubik said. “He’s been around since Trinity has been doing well in basketball. If you listen to him and get the job done, you’ll do just fine.”
Grinsteinner said he can’t take all the credit for the program’s development. He has many people to thank, including his coaching staffs throughout the years.
“We have a great coaching staff and I think that makes life much easier,” Grinsteinner said. “You just lean on people that you talk to throughout the year.”
He said one of the biggest benefits to his coaching staff is they coach sports all year round from football to basketball and track and field. Grinsteinner stepped down as an assistant coach for the football team prior to this season to watch his youngest daughter, Katelyn, compete in volleyball. He picked a great year as the Titans’ volleyball team reached the state tournament after knocking off Beulah in the Region 7 championship.
It wouldn’t be the last time Trinity and Beulah would meet in a Region 7 championship.
After reaching the region championship as the No. 2 seed from District 14, Trinity faced top-ranked Beulah — a team that ended Trinity’s season two of the last three years.
Despite not having too many new firsts after 19 years, Grinsteinner and company finally topped Beulah in a title game, 64-52, last Thursday.
“Beulah has such a good tradition, good coaching staff and good players,” Grinsteinner said. “We had to work hard. It wasn’t something that just came to us.”
Grinsteinner learned immediately after his first trip to the Class B state tournament to have fun and that whatever happens, happens.
He admitted he was so wound up in his first trip to the state tournament that he didn’t enjoy his time. That year, the Titans lost to underdog Leeds 54-53 in a memorable title game.
After the tournament was over, he and his wife, Carol, made a pact that if Trinity ever made it back to the state tournament, Grinsteinner would enjoy it.
“I remember the first state tournament we went to and it was kind of a miserable experience,” Grinsteinner said. “Now it becomes more of a family weekend and you appreciate the people around you that have been your support group throughout the season.”
This year, No. 3-ranked Trinity has a 22-2 overall record and is rolling into the state tournament as the highest-ranked team left from the Class B media poll. The Titans play LaMoure-Litchville-Marion to open the tournament at noon MST today.
Many Trinity players say it is comforting traveling to a state tournament with Grinsteinner at the helm.
“He’s been to the state tournament quite a few times and he knows how we have to prepare,” Trinity senior point guard Alex Binstock said. “We just have to take it one game at a time.”
This season the Titans are averaging 66.7 points, while allowing 43.5. Trinity has always prided itself on defense and with 23.2 point differential, the team has done just that.
“We know that history can repeat itself,” Trinity senior post Isiah Binstock said. “Grinsteinner is a very smart guy when it comes to basketball and his IQ is above a lot of other coaches. I have faith in him.”
Trinity’s all-senior starting lineup includes five players that are all over 6-feet tall. That includes Kubik in the middle, who is 6-7, 290 pounds and is committed to play football at North Dakota State next year, and all-state shooting guard Jacob Volk, who is 6-3.
Yet, the team isn’t complete unless each player in the starting lineup and on the bench knows their role.
Greg Pruitt, who recently finished his fourth season as the Heart River boys basketball team’s head coach, was an assistant under Grinsteinner for several years. He said Grinsteinner gets his players to buy into the program and into their roles on the team.
“The players take ownership and they buy into their roles,” Pruitt said. “Those kids that come through that Trinity program have expectations. They have those expectations of being in that regional championship every year.”
Pruitt, who said he refers to Grinsteinner as one of his mentors, said there’s no doubt in his mind one day Grinsteinner’s name will be on a plaque in Jamestown at the North Dakota Coaches Hall of Fame.
“I personally think he’s going to be a hall-of-fame coach,” Pruitt said. “That just what kind of coach he is.”