There was only one Mr. Norm
The Copper Country lost an original sports figure recently with the passing of Norm Koski.
Koski, better known to his many fans as Mr. Norm, covered sports on the radio for the better part of six decades.
The Calumet native came on to the local sports broadcasting scene almost by accident.
In a feature I did on him a few years ago, he said that a local station was looking to get somebody to cover a few games.
“One of my early assignments was to cover the 1964 state championship basketball game between Baraga and Britton-Macon in East Lansing,” he recalled. “It turned out to be a quite a game and my feed was piped into the Baraga Armory for fans to listen to.”
Baraga ended up losing the game to a towering (6-foot-9, 6-6 and 6-5) Britton-Macon team, but not before Larry Kangas of the Vikings almost singlehandedly kept his team close.
Kangas scored 34 points. After fouling out late in the game, he received a standing ovation from the Jenison Fieldhouse crowd.
Koski remembered it as “one of my personal thrills” in a long career.
But Koski, who also put in a stint at WLUC-TV, became later known for his prep hockey and football broadcasting.
One year when his station outbid WMPL Radio for the coverage of Michigan Tech hockey, Norm took the job for one season and did a fine job.
But his coverage of Lake Linden-Hubbell High football and their many runs in the state playoffs was notable.
I remember when the Lakes advanced to the state finals in 1989 he remarked “I never thought I would get to the Pontiac Silverdome doing football.”
But hockey was the sport he loved the most and one could tell that as he covered Houghton, Calumet and Hancock drives to the state finals.
Noted for his ability to tell a story, Koski regaled the National Guard troops he was stationed with for several years.
Former Mining Gazette sportswriter Pete Bousu, who was in the Guard at the same time, said Norm “had his audiences rolling in the aisles.”
My favorite remembrance of Koski came during the interview I was doing with him. I asked if he had played any sports in high school.
He said he had been a member of the Calumet High football team, but didn’t exactly distinguish himself.
“I seldom got into a game, but the coach put me in a late season game against Escanaba Holy Name. I gained nine yards on my first carry that night and thought there was nothing to it. We ran the same play right afterward and I lost nine yards. Those were my career stats: Two carries for zero yards.”
That was vintage Mr. Norm ….