Beyond the Playbook: Chisholm High School rallies around longtime coach, teacher

Last week, Chisholm volleyball fans dressed up in all grey to support longtime coach, teacher, and friend, Don LaLonde in his battle with Stage 4 brain cancer. The impact LaLonde has left on his community is unmatched.

“He still supports me and everything and is just the best dad I could ask for,” said Amya Fontaine, a Right Side Hitter for the Chisholm volleyball team.

Chisholm Athletic Director Travis Vake added, “You just see the kids run up to a him and say, ‘Mr. LaLonde, how are you? How are you doing?’ I mean, that to me speaks volumes as far as what an impact he had.”

Whether it is as a teacher, a girls basketball coach, or a track and field coach, everyone at Chisholm High School knows “Mr. LaLonde”.

LaLonde wasn’t just a great coach because of the results he garnered, but he was also loved as someone who could always brighten the mood.

“He would bring in cupcakes to practice and I know a lot of the girls, that’s their biggest memory, ” said Chisholm Volleyball coach and assistant coach to LaLonde’s girl’s basketball team, Pam Pioske. “They couldn’t wait for those cupcakes and those cookies. He made the silliest jokes and he would get you every single time on the jokes.”

Lalonde was diagnosed with Stage 4 brain cancer, forcing him to stop teaching and coaching. But that wouldn’t stop Chisholm from paying it back. Chisholm’s fan section showed up in grey (the official color of the brain cancer ribbon) when the volleyball team played Hill City. LaLonde was honored with a pregame ceremony.

As for on the court, Chisholm won in three straight sets, but it was more than a game for those in the gym that night.

“Celebrate the life that he had and celebrate how much he’s done for us and been there for us,” said Pioske. “The fact that he’s had a few days here left with us and tonight, this is a part of our celebration and honoring him in that we respect everything that he’s done for us.”

“We love Don,” said Fontaine. “He’s the best, and we’re so happy we could do this for him.”