The first girls basketball team at Perham Public Schools began in the fall of 1969.
Meryl Gisselquist was the coach. The team was made up of six players, with a ‘roving’ guard who could travel the entire court. That first season, the team played only seven games.
The next year, Ruth Cole took over the coaching position. Sometime during the 1970s, the game changed to five-player basketball. The girls improved steadily, and in 1972 they had their first winning season, with a record of 10 and five. The following year, the team tied with Dilworth and Frazee for the Heart O’Lakes Conference championship.
Perham went on in the following two years to be undefeated Conference Champions. The girls placed third, fourth, and second in the first three District 23 tournaments held in the fall of 1972, ‘73 and ‘74.
In 1975-76, the girl’s season moved to winter instead of fall. In addition to winning the Heart O’Lakes Conference, they also won the District 23 title for the first time ever.
The next year, Tony Bjork took over the head coaching job and led the team to eight consecutive winning seasons, including four District 23 Championships, three runner-ups and one third place. When Coach Bjork retired after the 1984 season, the girls had had 122 wins and 45 losses.
The next three years, the team was coached by Deb Meyer, with the girls finishing second in District 23 for two of those years. In 1988, Darrel Pederson came on board, and their success that year included a 22-3 record.
In 1991, the Perham team made history by being the first girls basketball team to ever qualify for the State Tournament. The team that year had a 25-4 record and defeated Osakis for the Region 6 Championship. The team went on to capture fourth place in the State Tournament.
Information for this article came from the “1994 East Otter Tail History Book, Volume II.” Lina Belar is the founder and retired director of the Friends of the History Museum of East Otter Tail County.