Before Jerry Schaffer would build one of the finest small town Michigan basketball programs at Three Oaks River Valley, he would star on the gridiron, hardwood and diamond for the then Hillsdale College Dales. Schaffer graduated in 1960 after earning All-MIAA honors in baseball that year.
In 1966 he launched the River Valley basketball program and went on to win state titles in 1979 with runner-up finishes in 1981 and 1997. His 1988 team made it all of the way Crisler Arena and State semi-finals. That team and Schaffer’s legacy is the subject of a recently released documentary from independent film maker and Hamilton High School teacher Mark Behnke.
Mustang Magic: When every Friday Night mattered tells the story of Three Oaks as a place where small town dreams can come true through hard work and dedication. “Sacrifice equals winning and winning equals recognition” was Schaffer’s mantra and one the film’s main themes. Packed gyms, cardiac comebacks, and a colorful bunch of characters lets us all travel vicariously for an hour and a half back to those memories at our own high schools.
“A legacy is so much more than wins and losses. It is the integrity he coached and taught with for over three decades,” Behnke states. “The 1987-1988 teams were extra talented and modeled Schaffer’s lesson for the kids in the community.”