Cresap continues to raise the bar for Perham boys basketball

Perham head coach Dave Cresap talks things over with his team during a time out during Perham's victory over Dilworth-Glyndon-Felton at the Hive ( Jason Groth / Perham Focus)

When it comes to high school sports, longevity is not a term defined like it used to be when it comes to coaching. In the new era of high school sports, coaches come and go and rarely stay for a long period of time.

Perham boys basketball head coach Dave Cresap is old school in multiple facets.

The 25-year head coach of the Perham boys basketball team just captured his 600th career win and he did it his way.

Cresap supervised a transitional period when he first took over the Yellowjackets, a team that was perennially on the bottom of the Heart O’Lakes Conference and struggled in the postseason.

Now, the Cresap has the Yellowjackets consistently at the top of the Heart O’Lakes Conference and battling for Section 8AA Championships on a yearly basis.


The veteran head coach improved his record to 600-275 with the victory.

He started his coaching career at Upham, N.D., in 1985 and was there until 1992, before moving to Walhalla, N.D., where he coached until 1995. Ever since then, he has been at the helm of the Yellowjackets, turning the program into a state contender.

Perham Activities Director Erin Anderson said the 600 mark says the world about what kind of coach he is and that he has been so consistent over the years with what he brings to the program.

“He brings a passion that is unmatched from what I have seen, not just in my time here but as a basketball player, a fan and a guy who has been around basketball a long time,” Anderson said. “The passion and tenacity that he has to put into a program is unmatched. It also says that he knows the game, is a student of the game and is constantly trying to get better.”

Perham head coach Dave Cresap looks on during a game at Frazee early in his career in Perham. Behind Cresap, left to right, is Tim Schmitz, Brian Schwantz and Erin Anderson. (Submitted photo

Cresap has led Perham to four state tournaments, including its only state basketball championship in 2011. Perham’s most recent Section 8AA Championship came in a close victory over Hawley. Hawley head coach Nathan Stoa said he really wanted to win that championship, but said if you have to take a loss, he was glad it was against someone he respected.

“I wanted to win that section championship more than anything last year, but to be able to go up and play against the program that is on top of our mountain now as far as regular seasons go and statewide respect which was Perham,” Stoa said. “If you have to take an L to someone, to you take an L to someone you really respect. I do really respect, not just the coaches in our league, but the coaches in Section 8AA. I think that it makes it a very competitive area but because we have that respect, you take pride in what the entire section can do and most specifically what the teams in the HOL can do on both the boys and girls side.”


Breckenridge head coach Arly Ohm, who has been friends with Cresap for more than 30 years, said the word respect comes to mind when you hear Cresap’s name.

“Anytime you go up against a Dave Cresap team, you know they are going to compete really hard and you have to be fully prepared because they are going to be fully prepared,” Ohm said. “I think we have had some classic battles, but at the same time there is a respect factor between the two programs. All of the accomplishments that he has done, he is very humble to share the rapport with everybody else, but at the same time what he has done personally to keep up the consistency of the Perham program is absolutely amazing.”

Time and Dedication

According to his son Jordan, who is now the head coach of the Wadena-Deer Creek girls basketball team, fans may see the demonstrative coach on the sidelines during the game. What they don’t see is the guy behind the scenes, who puts in countless hours to the game and the people he supports.

“Ultimately, he is a family first guy. People see him on the court as a demonstrative, in your face coach. He will get in your face because he sets the level high and he sets the expectations super, super high and gets after you,” Jordan Cresap said. “A lot of people are weary of that and think he is over the top. What those people don’t see is the behind the scenes. He is a family guy and a relationship guy. Every single day in practice or in the hallways, he is building up his students, his athletes and our family. He is just a people person. If you know him, you know that. He cares deeply about the people who are in his life, including myself, my mom, my brother and my sister. He is a deeply compassionate guy who will go above and beyond for anyone that cares about him. He will do anything for you and that’s the type of guy he is.”

Perham head coach Dave Cresap coaches on the sidelines of the Class AA Basketball Tournament at the Target Center during the 2018-19 basketball season. (Jason Groth / Perham Focus)

Ohm agrees and said he wants fans to understand all the work that is put in off the court. He said when people come to Perham and Breckenridge games they see two teams that are prepared and teams that are going to compete. However, what they don’t see is what happens after the battle comes to a close.

“People see the on the court stuff, but I just want people to understand the off the court stuff,” Ohm said. “I think when people come to Breckenridge and Perham games, they see an intense rivalry in which both teams are quite prepared and both teams are going to compete at the highest level, but what they don’t understand is all the text messages and phone calls behind the scenes where we talk and pick each other up. We are kind of cut out of the same cloth where we compete very hard. I have great admiration for what he has done to stay at one school that long, really speaks volumes.”


Anderson said Cresap’s love for the game and time put in goes well beyond basketball.

“Each relationship he has had with his players has certainly been unique,” Anderson said. Hopefully, all of them would say they have had a good experience, but that maybe isn’t always the case.

“I know for a fact that from the best player he has ever coached to one that maybe is the least skilled player he has ever coached in all of his places - he would take a bullet for all of them and stand up for any of them in a heartbeat,” Anderson said. “That’s what separates these coaches that we see achieve these kinds of milestones and stick with the game. It’s more than about the game for these guys, it’s about relationships and building young men.”

Stoa made his return to the Heart O’Lakes Conference after coaching at Pine City. He said Cresap informed him of the job opening at a coaches clinic and the two stayed in touch. Stoa said Cresap’s name crossed his mind when he thought about coming back to the conference and mentioned wanting to build a program like Cresap’s and many others in the HOL.

“It felt like it was loaded with guys that put in time that I wanted to put in and built their programs in a way that I wanted to hopefully build my program whenever given the opportunity,” Stoa said. “Getting to see him when I was at a younger age made it a cool proposition to come back to the HOL and Section 8AA where there are such devoted coaches. Dave leads the way as a guy who has put a ton into his program and has done it his way.”

The road to 600 wins is not an easy one

“It hasn’t always been a super smooth ride, but he has built that Perham program up to the exact opposite of what it was before he got there,” said Stoa. “Nobody will take the work that he has done with that program lightly because we all know the undertaking it is to get a program developed to where you have the numbers that he has, the success that he has and bringing that fan base into a passionate fan base that’s really excited game in and game out, year in and year out, for the success the kids have had. By doing all that, he has me jealous at the moment because he has been able to get a program that has gotten old and stayed old as far as the kids he has put on the floor and that’s part of the reason why you don’t see a dip in what he is doing here for the past decade.”

Perham head coach Dave Cresap watches intently as Carter Aakre takes a 3-pointer during Perham's victory over Fargo Oak Grove. (Jason Groth / Perham Focus)


Ohm said the feat of reaching 600 wins is amazing because of the consistency factor and coaching through many different eras.

There are so many things that have changed in today’s society with the way we push kids and deal with kids and Dave is still an old school coach. He demands a lot but I think the kids still know that he cares for them,” Ohm said. “When they know he cares for them, they will run through the wall for him. If you look at former alumni and there are many former alumni that really support him. That tells you he has done it the right way.”


Jordan Cresap, who is starting his own coaching legacy, was there from the beginning, watching his father build the Perham program from the doldrums to the top of the conference and section.

“That’s all I have known and all I have seen is this fiery, passionate coach, who cares deeply about his family, his kids, his student-athletes and the coaches he has had around him. That’s another thing is the support system that he has had right there with him,” Cresap said. “It wasn’t always so smooth, but even in the down years, he still loves it. If things aren’t going so well for another team, it’s like a tank year and he doesn’t believe in that. It’s about maximizing his team performance and their work. When you have that, no matter how successful you are, the younger kids see that. They see he is still working no matter how many wins, no matter how many losses. He is still working and devoting his time to not only his teams, but the youth teams. I don’t think there is anybody else who has worked harder with youth than he does.”

Perham head coach Dave Cresap looks over the opposition as he is joined by assistants Brian Schwantz, left, and Grant Dierkhising, right. The Yellowjacket head coach hit a career milestone. ( Jason Groth / Perham Focus)

Jordan said his father has instilled in him there are no shortcuts to being successful.

“The No. 1 thing is work ethic,” said Jordan. “Being at home and watching film and seeing him watch film all the time and watching him diagram all of these plays on all of these teams, not just the good teams. He doesn’t prepare just for the tough teams, he prepares for everybody. He treats every team the same, no matter what. When you have that, success just kind of breeds itself. Never taking a day off, preparing and ultimately just out-working everybody and being committed to athletes compared to anyone else.”


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