CUSTER, S.D. — Many athletes were positively impacted by Custer Wildcats legendary coach Larry Luitjens.
When you enter the Custer Wildcats Gymnasium, you’ll see banners of athletic awards, the friendly paw and even some memorabilia of Coach Luitjens.
Whether it’s his five state championship banners or his banner commemorating his climb to having the most wins in South Dakota High School Boys Basketball history or his name on the hardwood.
But his influence, especially according to his players goes beyond his time on the floor.
“He taught a lot of us how to play basketball, but it wasn’t just basketball, he taught us about life, you know,” said Paul Kelley, a former player and the Head Boys Basketball Coach for Custer High School. “He always used to say if I taught you just how to shoot a layup, I failed, so I mean, that’s something we’ve all taken with us.”
Now, those messages are carried on, through a faith-based book, written by his son Lance Luitjens and Robert Parsons, that focuses on the life of Luitjens, including his walk in faith that created the influencer.
Parsons served as a middle school and younger high school athletes coach that found Coach Luitjens’ story to be perfect for coaches that read the book.
Parsons and Lance Luitjens handed out over 100 copies of the book at the Lakota Nation Invitational.
The book features 47 team talks, a fitting number, representing coach Luitjen’s years of teaching from the bench. Each talk was used to mold future coaches into better influences.
“A Coach of Influence can go two ways,” Parsons said. “You can have a good influence and you can have a negative influence, and so we’re trying to encourage coaches to be a positive influence in the lives of their players.”
It’s a book written with symbolism, a technique used by Coach Luitjens in his pre-practice messages that got the most out of his players and groom them for their roles on the team. All using faith as the backbone.
“To be a person of influence, you need to be intentional and you need to sometimes remember that your job isn’t necessarily to win games. However, your job is ‘what type of an influence and an impact can I have on the people that I come across?’”
If you’d like to purchase a book, send an email to email@example.com.