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'Jimbo' was revered by players, parents

James Fischer was never just a coach. For hundreds of boys and girls in St. Paul Park during the 1980's and 1990's, Fischer, whose players called him "Jimbo," was a mentor and a friend. "I was kind of one of the outsider kids and he never looked ...

James Fischer was never just a coach.


For hundreds of boys and girls in St. Paul Park during the 1980's and 1990's, Fischer, whose players called him "Jimbo," was a mentor and a friend.


"I was kind of one of the outsider kids and he never looked down on me for being different," former youth hockey player Jaclyn Perren said. "He always encouraged people. He was an excellent teacher."


On March 4, Fischer passed away at his home in Dresser, Wis. at the age of 50 after a courageous battle with cancer.


Fischer coached boys and girls hockey and ringettes. He also coached softball during his years in St. Paul Park and Cottage Grove. In fact, Fischer started the girls traveling softball program in St. Paul Park and played a big part in getting the batting cages at Whitbred Memorial Park.

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Cottage Grove Athletic Association president Al Boche Jr. coaches boys hockey with Fischer during the late 1980's.


"We had one kid that was in the hospital with pneumonia one time," Boche Jr. said. "He went to the (former USHL team Twin Cities) Vulcans and got a stick signed by all the players and brought it to the hospital for him. He always did little things like that."


Fischer's wife, Cheryl, said Fischer wanted to coach because he always said he had coaches that helped him when he was little and wanted to help other children in that same way. As a result, family vacations were usually spent in hotel rooms at tournaments.


And while Cheryl said she knew Fischer made an impact with the children she coached, she never realized just how much he meant to them. She could not believe how many former players and their parents attended the funeral to support Fischer.


"I knew that he really enjoyed what he was doing," Cheryl said. "IHe bonded with a lot of them. He had a way of teaching that made them listen and want to learn."


For some children, Fischer was like a second father.


"I always looked up to him," former player Julie Anderson said. "Whenever I needed anything I could call him."


Anderson, who is a long-time friend of Fischer's daughter Christina, said the memory that sticks out most had nothing to do with athletics.

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"He let me and (Christina) braid his hair," Anderson said. "We still have a picture of him with all these little braids in his hair."


It is memories like those that make Fischer a coach that many in St. Paul Park and Cottage Grove will never forget.

Fischer benefit

There will be a benefit for Fischer starting at 5 p.m. on April 10 at the Red Barn. There is a $7 a plate spaghetti dinner and will be raffles, drawings, prizes and a bake sale.

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