New summer basketball program building skills of the region

Amateur Athletic Union of Minnesota expands into the Wadena area.

AAU director and coach Jordan Folkestad chats with players during a four-on-four tournament Saturday, May 29. Michael Johnson/Pioneer Journal

While Jordan Folkestad is living the dream of farming in rural Wadena, his spare time is filled with his passion for promoting and coaching youth sports.

At high school sports in the area, Folkestad is a coach and that super fan standing on the sidelines cheering on the players beyond just the home team. Folkestad, 25, decided to come off the sidelines this spring and take on a leadership role in promoting area athletes. He wanted to help area basketball players perform even better by putting on tournaments beyond the usual high school league schedule.

“I want to see this area do better,” Folkestad said. “That’s always been my goal.”

High school and college aged youth from the region came out to ball Saturday, May 29, at the Mas in Wadena. Michael Johnson/Pioneer Journal


He started a summer league basketball program through the Minnesota Amateur Athletic Union (AAU) with Five Star Future and it took off with a tournament that filled the Maslowski Wellness and Research Center Saturday, May 29. Five Star Future is a basketball program that offers traveling and AAU Basketball teams of various ages and skill levels, basketball training camps, personal training for skills development and strength and conditioning.

“Anybody who wants to come play can come,” Folkestad said. While open to all, some very talented players came together to form teams. With Perham, New York Mills, Verndale, Bertha, Sebeka, Browerville and beyond taking part, some teams were made up of a mix of several schools, working together to compete among the field. The range of skill levels offered a unique opportunity to grow in an otherwise quiet time for basketball enthusiasts.

“A lot of this is to give kids a chance to get better,” Folkestad said. “It's going to be exciting.”

These tournaments are run by youth and act as fundraising for further practice and travel. Noah Noffsinger, who will be a senior at New York Mills was one of the team captains tapped to provide referee help at this first tournament. He was glad to be a part of this first event.

“Jordan really looks out for these kids,” Noffsinger said. “What Jordan does is very important.”

AAU captain and referee Noah Noffsinger (center) watches tournament action Saturday, May 29, in Wadena. Michael Johnson/Pioneer Journal

He said there is a lot of talent in the area and being a part of this four-on-four play will build the talent for this region.


“This is a growth year, first time doing this, so I can see this expanding a lot,” Noffsinger said.

Folkestad was busy managing the event, making sure it stayed on schedule with 10 teams and two games always in play on either side of the gym.

What helps make this event happen are businesses lending a hand. Folkestad mentioned Wadena businesses like Gores, Larry’s, Greiman’s, Boondocks and Fleet Supply all chipping in support. Having to pay for use of facilities can be costly and teams have to pay in order to compete in these tournaments.

Folkestad said his goal in all of this is to have a long-term impact on the area. He said youth don’t have to be superstars to take part. This is a chance for anyone to be better.

“We’re trying to help out the youth that kind of gets looked past in the area and to give them an opportunity to play summer ball and get better,” Folkestad said.

The teams practice Sundays and Wednesdays as Folkestad knows he can’t take them away from their high school sports schedules. Busyness is not uncommon for players on these teams or for Folkestad who knows there is hay to bale. Even so, there’s a passion for something more out of this group and they are willing to make time for this.

Moving forward, Folkestad said four tournaments are planned including trips to Andover, South Dakota and a plan to head to Florida for a national tournament in July. He hopes to bring on more players as this continues so that each player has more time to play against and learn from others.

Folkestad said he looks back at his less than illustrious career in basketball at Wadena-Deer Creek and said it’s a blessing from God that he’s been able to continue to be a part of something he loves.


“I was horrible at basketball,” Folkestad said. “But I want to see this area do better. Being blessed to make these positive things happen, to me that’s just awesome.”

Folkestad hears the conversations of area athletes that don’t think they can make anything of themselves because of their geographic location. He wants to change that.

“My goal is to have this area, have these people have hope,” Folkestad said.

Follow the team’s success at FiveStarFutureBasketbal l on Facebook.

To find out more about the local program, contact Folkestad at 218-340-6306.

Michael Johnson is the news editor for Agweek. He lives in the city of Verndale, Minn., but is bent on making it as country as he can until he returns once more to the farm living he enjoys. Also living the dream are his two children and wife.
You can reach Michael at or 218-640-2312.
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