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Northfield Author Publishes Book on Former Carleton Men’s Basketball Coach Jack Thurnblad '49

June 11, 2008

Northfield, Minn.––Coach Jack: The Life and Times of Carleton’s Jack Thurnblad, written by Northfield author David Lavender, is now available.

Coach Jack follows the life of Jack Thurnblad ’49, who served as Carleton’s head basketball coach from 1960-84 and is a member of the school’s ‘C’ Club Hall of Fame. He amassed a then-school record 243 victories and the 1965-66 Midwest Conference title, of which Carleton was a member at that time. A former basketball and baseball standout at Carleton, he first coached baseball and basketball at Hastings (Minn.) High school and then at Wayzata (Minn.) High School, leading the latter to the 1959 state basketball title, that school’s only title in boys’ basketball. One season later, he returned to his alma mater, where he remained until his retirement.

The book traces Thurnblad’s humble beginnings in Chicago, his enlistment in the U.S. Navy, and his life first as a Carleton undergraduate and later as the College’s men’s basketball coach and director of men’s athletics. He left his basketball coaching position in 1984 and retired from the College in 1989. The book is filled with Jack’s recollections of games he coached and played, the relationships he formed with players, students, colleagues and friends during more than 60-year association with Carleton College and the Northfield community.

The book is also a love story of sorts, as it follows the courtship and lifetime together of Thurnblad and Virginia “Jinny” (White) Thurnblad '48. The pair met on a memorable fall day in 1946 and married just two days prior to commencement in 1948. The Thurnblad’s home served as a welcome gathering place, filled with food and fellowship, for many a Carl, as the entire Thurnblad family supported Jack’s Carleton student-athletes and spent numerous hours volunteering for Carleton.

Lavender, who lived in Northfield and met Thurnblad while working at Carleton from 1963-70, returned to the Northfield community in 2004 and has written other books, some on the serious side and the others more humorous.

Coach Jack: The Life and Times of Carleton’s Jack Thurnblad is available at River City Books in downtown Northfield and at the Carleton College Bookstore in the Sayles-Hill Student Center on Carleton’s campus.