By BURT ANGELI
IRON MOUNTAIN - George Peterson III explains Watersmeet's dedication to basketball excellence in the new book "A Nimrod's Dream."
Watersmeet, a tiny Gogebic County community, lost 46 straight boys basketball games between 1977 and 1979. The Nimrods, or mighty hunters, turned things around from 2005 to 2008 with 74 wins.
They also hit the national spotlight with ESPN, CBS Sunday Morning and the Sundance Channel finding Watersmeet.
'I hemmed and hawed on the book," said Peterson, who handles a variety of roles in the community and county. "I never thought I'd write a book and here you go.
"I can't believe any of this happened, to tell you the truth. I wake up and just laugh."
Peterson serves as Watersmeet's school superintendent, principal, athletic director and track & field coach. His basketball coaching stands out in the book where on the average 75 kids make up the high school.
A devout commitment from athletes, coaches and parents carried Watersmeet to incredible heights. Peterson, with his son, George IV, one of the key players, began preparations when these youngsters were in the third grade.
"Practice builds repetition of habit. Repetition turns into skill," said Peterson, who modeled his efforts after Ewen-Trout Creek. "Skill needs to be refined, so you continue to practice."
Peterson, even with the grade-school team, didn't take a day off from basketball. It was 12/7/4 (months, days, hours).
"We continued to stress the fact that basketball was a game that needed to be worked at 12 months a year, seven days per week and two to four hours each day," Peterson said. "If you're small, it doesn't mean you can't win."
Peterson says the team's success wouldn't have occurred with positive parental involvement.
"If you have it, it's half the battle right there," Peterson said. "Parents need to be there for their children. I think that what's troubling in our society today is the lack of parenting."
That wasn't a problem in Watersmeet.
"There's always hope when there's people willing to work with you," he said. "If you have the drive and the support you can do anything.
"You can't always get them, but you can surprise them sometimes."
The Nimrods' unique nickname brought ESPN to Watersmeet for commercials that appeared initially during the 2004 Super Bowl. The Tonight Show with Jay Leno had the team visit Los Angeles. Bill Geist from CBS Sunday Morning traveled to Watersmeet for a segment.
Sundance Channel cameras followed the Nimrods everywhere for a reality show that resulted in a Peabody Award.
People from throughout the country wanted a piece of Nimrod mania, with clothing sales estimated at $500,000 in 2008.
"We were just fortunate we had that type of team when the cameras found us," Peterson said. "We were going to be successful on the court no matter what. We wouldn't have had the publicity if the cameras weren't around us."
"A Nimrod's Dream" also mentions teams and men from Dickinson and Iron counties.
Peterson calls former Dollar Bay coach and Norway High School graduate Jim Bronczyk a "memorable icon" and a "long time idol of mine."
Watersmeet knocked off North Dickinson in a regional final and Forest Park in a key 2004-05 regular season game.
"The win (against Forest Park) enabled them to start believing they were a contender," Peterson wrote. "It was a special defining moment in team history."
The Trojans also beat the Nimrods in a turbulent regional final, and Peterson doesn't mince words in what set off one of his players.
Peterson shows both the good and bad of Watersmeet's storied run.
"(This book is for) just anybody who would be interested in a small-town dream," Peterson said.
"A Nimrod's Dream" is available at Amazon.com. If you're headed to this special town, one can find the book at Big MAMA's Grill, Sylvania Outfitters and Rogers.
(Jason Juno of The Daily Globe contributed to this story)