Monday, January 24, 2022
Mitchell native Carl Pierson chronicles Minnesota girls basketball team in new book
Mitchell native Carl Pierson documented the 2019-20 Waconia girls basketball season and their trip to the state tournament. Pierson is shown coaching during the 2018 Hoop City Classic.
(Rodney Haas / 605 Sports)
Nov 2, 2021

By Ryan Deal

605 Sports

Carl Pierson’s tale of a Minnesota high school girls basketball team encapsulates teamwork and persistence toward a common goal: the state basketball tournament. 

The 2019-20 Waconia High School girls basketball team ended a 45-year drought and qualified for state. The Wildcats navigated through the ups and downs of the season, including the COVID-19 pandemic canceling their third-place state tourney game. 

But along the way, the Wildcats captured the attention of their town’s 13,000 people and the compelling story was too hard for Pierson to pass up. 

“It helps remind us of the unique power that high school sports have to unite a community,” said Pierson, a 1994 Mitchell High School graduate. “In this era where there’s increasing attention being placed on club teams and AAU basketball, high school sports are in some places taking a backseat. I think this story serves as a reminder that there’s something uniquely special about high school sports that club teams will never ever be able to capture.”

The 256-page book -- titled “The Other Side of Glory” -- will officially be released today and Pierson, Waconia’s former head coach, interviewed coaches and players during the two-and-half month writing process. Pierson also delved into the near misses of yesteryears for the Wildcats, including a one-point loss in the 2019 section final. 

“I was very familiar with the team and the town's torched past and followed it for several years,” Pierson, 45, said. “I thought ‘Well, if they ever do make it to the state tournament, this would make a heck of a story.’ ”

And it was a story Pierson couldn’t wait to chronicle. While he was on vacation in Florida, the Wildcats qualified for the state tournament and Pierson started working on the book’s outline on the flight home. 

Once the book was completed in June, Pierson’s next steps were signing with an agent and later a publisher. The book is published through Triumph Books, a Chicago-based sports book publisher.

The book has been endorsed by prominent coaches around the region and nation. University of Minnesota women’s basketball coach Lindsay Whalen penned the book’s foreword, while Doland native and current San Jose State men’s basketball coach Tim Miles provided an endorsement for the book. 

Mitchell native and former NBA sharpshooter Mike Miller, along with basketball coaches in Texas, Pennsylvania, Ohio, California, Wisconsin and Arkansas provided blurbs endorsing the book. 

“I feel very fortunate that so many top-notch coaches and well-known folks were willing to sign onto the project,” Pierson said. “That’s definitely one of the rewarding parts is there’s other big name people out there that are willing to attach their name to it.”

Pierson aimed to make the book a story relatable to high school coaches, players and fans across the country.

“It is designed to be something that somebody that’s reading in Massachusetts or in Montana will be able to connect to the kids and say ‘Boy, I remember it being like this when I played or this is what our team is like right now,’ ” Pierson said. 

Pierson served as a girls basketball coach for 17 years and currently serves as the executive director of the Minnesota Girls Basketball Coaches Association. In 2011, Pierson self-published a book titled “The Politics of Coaching: A Survival Guide to Keep Coaches from Getting Burned,” which examines the dynamics and the pressures on coaches in every sport.

Now that his second book is off and running, Pierson said his next project could be a historical account on the Mitchell High School boys basketball program and legendary coach Gary Munsen.

“I would really enjoy doing that,” Pierson said. “I don’t know how or when or if it will ever come to fruition. If I do another one, I think that would be next on the list.”

The book is available at every major online retailer but if ordered directly from the publisher and use the promo code WILDCATS21 there is a 35% discount. The website is

What Others Are Saying About “The Other Side of Glory”

“This story stands as a perfect example to teams at all levels of the power of persistence, the importance of players accepting their roles, and the rewards that result when everyone agrees upon a common goal.”

—Mike Miller, two-time NBA champion, winner of the NBA’s Rookie of the Year and Sixth Man of the Year Awards, and Houston High School (TN) boys basketball head coach

“An inspiring story of struggle and sacrifice that every high school athlete and coach can relate to, The Other Side of Glory will be a favorite for generations to come.”

—Rocky Ford, basketball chair, Texas Girls Coaches Association

“I’ve been coaching high school basketball for over 20 years and this is exactly the type of book I look for. Carl Pierson captures the roller coaster ride that we all endure while coaching high school hoops. I sincerely enjoyed reading this inspiring true story!”

—Dori Oldaker, head coach of USA Basketball’s 2016 U17 world championship team and five-time Pennsylvania state champion Mt. Lebanon High School

“Carl Pierson does an excellent job capturing the essence of coaching high school basketball. The Other Side of Glory is highly accurate in its portrayal of the ups and downs of high school athletics.”

—Jeremey Finn, 2020 Ohio State High School Basketball Coaches Association coach of the year

“Carl Pierson deftly chronicles the in-depth journey of a girls high school basketball season. He paints this picture with a beautiful brush and vivid detail, highlighting the different personalities that will inspire any true lover of the game. As a basketball coach of 43 years, I thoroughly recommend this book.”

—Doc Scheppler, coach of six California high school state championship teams and head coach at Pinewood High School (CA)

“The path to success is so very seldom linear. The Other Side of Glory is a perfect reminder that behind every success story are miles and miles of failures and struggles, but with dedication and belief, you can accomplish anything no matter where you started. A needed reminder that in a time where instant gratification seemingly rules, the long, winding journey is really what it’s all about.”

—Blake DuDonis, head women’s basketball coach, University of Wisconsin–River Falls

“This book should be required reading for every parent and high school basketball player. It captures the very essence of high school basketball. Combine that with examples, failures, successes, and situations that every program will experience at some point, and you have a book that will become a basketball doctrine. Carl Pierson has done it again.”

—Greg White, West High School (Centerton, AR)