Sheyenne Boys Basketball Bolsters Team Culture Through Book Study

Sheyenne has made it to the State tournament every year since starting the book club

WEST FARGO, N.D. — The drills may change, but the enthusiasm and positivity remains a constant for Sheyenne boys basketball.

“On our team our teammates pick each other up,” senior forward Ben Kanega said.

So how exactly did they develop such an encouraging, contagious system each player bought into? A weekly team book club.

“Every year coaches talk about ‘hey, read these three books. Read these three books,'” head coach Thomas Kirchoffner said. “The fact that we were a new school we needed to find our niche and we needed to find our edge, so we decided to read a book as a group and that’s been the difference.”

The idea of hitting the books after hitting their free throws took some getting used to.

“At first we all thought it was kind of weird I won’t lie,” Kanega admitted.

“At the beginning it’s like ‘well, we’ve never done one of these before, but let’s try it out,” junior guard Tyler Terhark added.

As a result, the Mustangs redefined the meaning of book binding.

“I feel like it had a really big impact on, not only the guys that are in our rotation, but also it trickled down to our JV guys,” Kanega said. “You felt more of a brotherhood every time we came to practice and you can see that brotherhood affecting how we play.”

“It just became something that was very magical and you could just sense it with the guys,” Kirchoffner said. “The guys cared about one another. They really didn’t care if they scored 20 points or zero points. They were just happy that the team won and they showed up everyday with a smile on their face. It’s just kind of a trickle-down-effect and a program enhancer.”

The team has also seen how the book has taught them to turn the page when things aren’t going their way.

“In the beginning of the game we got into foul trouble,” Kanega said of their last game against Red River.

“We had to fight against that and we couldn’t be down,” Terhark said.

“Those players that did get into foul trouble they helped uplift our team,” Kanega explained.

“The guys on the bench said ‘come on, you can do it! You can do it!’ And that just put me back up, my hopes back up and I played a little bit smarter,” Terhark said.

Sheyenne has made it to the State tournament every year since starting the book club. They say it’s given them the edge they’ve needed.

“I did envision that we’d have a great program, a great culture but I didn’t envision doing that through a book study,” Kirchoffner said. “I’m so glad that we did it because it just gives us something different and I feel like if we want to be competitive, if we want to be a great team sometimes you got to be different and that’s okay.”

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