It is little wonder Isaiah, Tysen and Kylan Gerads are basketball fanatics. They take after their parents Bob and Shanna Gerads, who had such a fondness for the sport they made a jump ball and shooting buckets part of their July 29, 2000, wedding day activities. Shanna’s dad, Gordy Smith, tossed the ball between the two, Shanna in her white wedding dress and Bob in his tuxedo. If that was not enough, their first date involved playing basketball.

            It led to a life filled with year-round basketball games for what would become a family of five.

            Basketball playing days go back to high school when Bob and Shanna played on Albany teams. Bob was raised in rural St. Francis, the son of Joann and Jerome Gerads and Shanna in Albany, the daughter of Yvette and Gordy Smith.

“My older brother, Rick, encouraged me, my mom gave in and my friends got me to and from practice,” said Bob, who played college basketball at Fergus Falls where he graduated with a finance degree and today works at a bank in St. Cloud.

Shanna played on a team that advanced to state in 1997, losing in the first round to New London-Spicer.

“My senior year, we were ranked first in state and lost to Pierz by a last second shot,” said Shanna, a fitness manager today. 

            Her passion for basketball lead to coaching in Melrose two years when they lived west of St. Rosa. After moving to Albany, she started coaching there.

Her experience as a player came in handy coaching.

            “I was a point guard when I played, and that involved a lot of facilitating, and when you coach, you facilitate the team,” she said.

When Bob and Shanna’s children were young, they coached traveling teams and later an Amateur Athletic Union team.

            “I coached Isaiah, and Shanna coached Tysen and Kylan,” Bob said.

            A favorite family photo is of Isaiah, little more than 1 years old, shooting baskets in a small hoop. His playing days go back to first grade. He smiles when asked why he started playing basketball, mainly as a guard.

            “It’s pretty obvious my parents liked basketball, and I continued because I love the sport and playing with friends,” he said.

            The same goes for playing with his siblings – or alone.

            “That’s the beauty of basketball. You can practice by yourself,” Bob said.

            Tysen starting playing in kindergarten. This year, as a sophomore point guard, he got moved to varsity. That meant there were two Gerads on the court a few times.

            “It was a proud brother moment,” Isaiah said.

            Tysen recalls his first varsity game, playing what he called “garbage minutes,” the last minutes of the game when Albany was ahead.

            Kylan, a freshman, has played since kindergarten.

            “She didn’t have a choice,” Shanna kiddingly said.

            Kylan begs to differ, giving up dance for basketball.

            Shanna recalls the call she and Bob received from Kylan, while watching their boys play basketball in Pierz, telling them she got a varsity jersey.

            “I could hear her smile on the phone,” Shanna said.

            A player being mentally, emotionally and physically ready goes into the decision if they are ready to play on the varsity team, she said.

            Shanna said at the front of each season, they ask their children what their goals are “and everyone met their goals,” this year.

            The siblings did not panic during the pandemic, instead relishing each time they could play a game, and their parents treasured watching each game – whether basketball, football or volleyball.

            “You just want them to do good, have fun and not get hurt,” Shanna said.

            Looking back, Isaiah is thankful for a good season playing with great teammates his senior year, with losses only to Melrose and Mora. While he takes many memories with him, the buzzer-beater against Melrose in the sections playoffs two years ago is tops when first Albany was declared the winner, but then it was determined Melrose won because the Albany shot went off after the buzzer.

            “There was a swing of emotion, but it helped me prepare for COVID,” he said. “Some things are out of your hands.”

            When it comes to COVID, the Gerads siblings feel fortunate they did not miss a game this year.

            Kylan said working together as a team with “unselfish players,” allowed the girls team to advance to state, eventually winning the Class AA title. To get to that point, the girls made the decision, before the section championship game, to do distance learning.

            The basketball season may be over but not basketball playing for the Gerads. Tysen and Kylan are on traveling teams, and, of course, they shoot hoops at home. 

            “I have to show the boys I can still dunk,” Bob said.

            There are a few family-friendly disagreements.

            “They are very competitive,” Shanna said.

            They also learn from each other.

            As a family, they enjoy days on the lake, especially pontoon rides and fishing. Isaiah’s mounted 29-inch walleye hangs on a wall. 

            During COVID-19, he sharpened up on another of his dad’s favorite pastimes – playing guitar.

            Shanna pipes in that she is musically inclined and can play the tambourine.

Bob and Shanna said it is exciting watching their children develop their own identities as they learn life lessons.

            “We’re trying to instill life is about faith, family and friends,” Shanna said.

            Bob said it is about “selling your own hide,” in other words, “proving their own worth when the day comes.”

            As a family, they feel blessed, not only with their athleticism, but with the friends they have made.

            “We’ve chosen athletics as a way to be involved. Others do wonderful things to contribute,” said Bob, tears welling up in his eyes when he thinks of emotion-filled times, like the state sendoff for the girls basketball team.

            “If you don’t think things like that make a difference in a town like Albany, they do,” he said.

            Life is a slam-dunk for the Gerads family of five.

 

Gerads1b: PHOTO BY CAROL MOORMAN

The Gerads family – Tysen (from left), Isaiah, Shanna, Bob and Kylan – stand April 20 on their home basketball court in rural Avon. They have learned many life-lessons from their involvement in athletics.

 

Gerads2: PHOTO SUBMITTED

Shanna and Bob Gerads participate in a jump ball on their wedding day, July 29, 2000. Tossing the ball is Shanna’s dad Gordy Smith.