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Molder of Men: Dave Ploof, Rapid City Post 22

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Last week, legion baseball in South Dakota ended an era, with Rapid City Post 22 Head Coach Dave Ploof deciding to call it a career. As we look back at Ploof's storied past, it's hard not to make the hardhat our Taco John's Athlete of the Week.

When we caught up with Rapid City Post 22 Head Coach Dave Ploof earlier this summer, he didn't give any indication this season would be his last.

"This is my 47th year and maybe a hundred," Ploof said, "I don't know. But we're having fun. The kids are working hard, they're having success."

That success is something Ploof is no stranger to, and that's why it rocked South Dakota's Legion Baseball landscape so hard when he decided to leave the coaching ranks. Over his 47 years at the helm of Post 22, Ploof compiled a record of 2,483 wins and 808 losses, winning 33 state titles and the 1993 national championship in the process.

"I've watched games since I was little and I've always wanted to play there," Post 22 Infielder Jake Bohne said, "It's always been a dream of mine."

His team's most dominant stretch came from 1970 to 1987, when the Hardhats won 18 straight state championships.

"It's nothing like a magic pill, that you have a shortcut, it's just hard work." Ploof said.

A testiment to that shows in what kind of players Ploof always tried to bring to his team.

"The hard nosed kid that wants to work hard and become an awful good ball player." Ploof said.

Ploof's guidance is often what turned those hard nosed kids into awful good ball players.

"He has a lot of good advice, but he teaches alot about fundamentals and fundamentals," Bohne says, "And that's what we drill a lot on and that's what I think gives him so much success with all of his teams."

And even though the legend that led Post 22 to unimaginable heights for so long is leaving, he doesn't anticipate any sort of dryspell.

"We've got a bunch of kids coming back," Ploof said, "So we're gonna be around for a while."
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