When I hear the name Dr. J, I don't think of the former NBA great Julius Erving with the bushy hair and leaping ability. I think of a balding, bespectacled gentleman with a raspy voice and a twinkle in his eye, Dr. Harry Jasinski of Northern State University.
For years, Dr. J was the voice of Northern State athletics. He died on Monday at age 84. His voice sounded like a hacksaw coated with sweet honey. His signature sound was to stretch out the different syllables in names to get Coooo-sss-ler (Kusler).
For years, Harry could be found at the Barnett Center in the late afternoon for his walk around the indoor track. The walk was as much for socialization purposes as his health (heart problems). He always found someone willing to talk for a while.
During his tenure at Northern, Jasinski probably was responsible for recruiting almost as many athletes and students to the university as all the coaching staffs combined. If prospective athletes or students expressed any interest in the field of business, they were sent to Jasinski's office for a chat. He was a recruiting secret weapon.
Jasinski took some credit for remodeling the press box at old Swisher Field years back. In the olden days, it was an open-air press box without glass windows. Birds would roost in it during the winter.
The assistant football coaches from each team would sit on opposite sides of the press box and communicate to the coaches on the field with headphones. Some football coaches would occasionally select inappropriate words to describe what was going on in the game.
One week the assistant coaches for the visiting team became extremely profane and it disturbed the sensibilities of Northern fans sitting on the top row right underneath the press box. The fans mentioned the problem to Jasinski and he helped raise money to enclose the press box and spare the fans.
That same press box, since spruced up even more, now sits at the new Swisher Field Complex - the press box that Jasinski built.
Jasinski's formative years were spent in Wisconsin, where he learned the pronunciations of long and convoluted names that often ended in ski.
There was a team from Wisconsin at a tournament in Aberdeen and Jasinski started talking to a player that was getting ready to check in to the game. Jasinski asked him where he was from in Wisconsin. It turns out Jasinski was acquainted with the area and impressed the athlete with that knowledge.
The athlete said he was shocked when he was introduced in the lineup because Jasinski pronounced his name correctly. The athlete said that hardly ever happened.
I'm sure Harry's closest friends and relatives could come up with thousands of stories. He was an important man in the education world as head of a department, but was extremely down-to-earth. He loved mingling with coaches and athletes.
In addition to his educational and personal accomplishments, Dr. J will be remembered for The Voice.
Deb Smith is an American News Sports Writer who can be reached at (605) 622-2311 or email@example.com.