John's Journal
Ted Schultz Named AD at Minnetonka5/7/2010
Ted Schultz, current activities director at Bloomington Jefferson High School, has been named to the same position at Minnetonka High School. He will assume his new duties on July 1.

“I’m honored and humbled to be the named the activities director for Minnetonka,” Schultz said. “Minnetonka High School offers the four A’s: Academics, Athletics, Arts and Activities; I think that combination in the high school allows any student to be successful... To be a part of that and help shape student success has always been a goal of mine. When students are involved, they are more tuned into school and the educational experience is much better," he said.

“We are quite impressed with his focus on student development and the importance he places on all activities, not just athletics, for helping students succeed with their goals,” said Tim Alexander, executive director for human resources in the Minnetonka school district. “He has also proven himself to be a leader within his conference and among AD’s throughout the Minnesota State High School League. Schultz was instrumental in negotiating the new three-conference scheduling agreement between the South Suburban, Northwest Suburban and Lake Conferences.”

Schultz said, “It is a unique partnership. We were able to put all the politics aside and say, ‘Hey, What’s best for kids?’ The spirit of cooperation is really what made that work.” The agreement puts to rest the difficult question of conference alignment for the next five years.

Schultz holds a Minnesota principal license, has a Masters in Educational Leadership from Minnesota State University-Mankato and is a certified athletic administrator. He was recently selected to serve as the Region 3AA Representative on the Minnesota State High School League Board of Directors, a position he will need to abdicate with his move out of the region.

In Bloomington, Schultz administered all aspects of the Jefferson High School student activities program, served as chair for the Lake Conference Athletic and Activities Directors and served on the Bloomington Theatre Board. He is an adjunct faculty member for the University of St. Mary’s Educational Leadership Program. Earlier in his tenure with Bloomington, he served as athletic director for the district, coordinating 132 high school teams and 24 middle school teams, as well as developing the Bloomington Safe House, a chemical use prevention program. He also served in various management roles for state tournaments for boys and girls hockey, lacrosse and adapted athletics.

--John Millea is on Twitter at twitter.com/mshsljohn

--Join the MSHSL on Facebook; simply search for “MSHSL” and become a fan



Nothing Stops Lourdes' Tennis Champion Ben Kopecky5/6/2010
Try doing what Ben Kopecky does. I dare you. Try playing tennis on a state championship level with a backbone that’s twisted and splintered; a spine that’s shaped like a question mark with notches of bone breaking off.

The Rochester Lourdes senior knows he may face spinal fusion surgery someday, as a way to deal with the dueling maladies of scoliosis (curvature of the spine) and spondylosis (a spinal defect in Kopecky’s lower back). The most amazing aspect of his story, however, is not his physical condition but his collection of tennis hardware.

Kopecky, already the owner of two Class A individual state titles, will attempt to win a third championship at the 2010 state tourney, June 8-10 at the Reed-Sweatt Tennis Center in Minneapolis. He is one of only 16 players in the 81-year history of the MSHSL boys’ tennis tournament to capture two championships.

Two previous individuals have won three boys’ crowns, and that feat hasn’t been accomplished in nearly 50 years. If Kopecky gets title No. 3 in a few weeks, not only will he become the third three-time champ in Minnesota history, he will become the third three-time champ from Rochester.

Dave Healey won titles in1953, 1954 and 1955 for Rochester High School, and Chuck Darley did the same in 1962, 1963 and 1964, also for Rochester High School (Rochester John Marshall opened in 1958 and Mayo opened in 1966.)

“It’s a privilege just to have the chance, to be in the position to be going for a third one,” Kopecky said during practice on a windy Wednesday in Rochester.

Kopecky is the second boys’ player from Lourdes to win a state championship; Jarret Cascino was the Class A winner in 2001. But his No. 1 goal for his senior season is being part of the first Lourdes boys’ squad to win a state team championship. That says a lot about a team captain who puts team before self.

“The kids kind of gravitate to him; he’s a good leader and he’s a fun guy,” Lourdes coach Kevin Rust said. “At the same time, he’s where he’s at because he’s worked at it.”

Kopecky is an experienced hand when it comes to playing at state. He made his tournament debut as an eighth-grade doubles player and advanced in singles for the first time as a freshman, finishing as the state runner-up despite playing with a sprained ankle – further evidence of his ability to play through physical problems.

Then came state championships as a sophomore and junior, putting him on the verge of title No. 3 this season. But ask Kopecky about the 2010 state tournament, and he’ll talk about the team first.

“The thing I’m most happy about this season is that the guys on the team worked so hard in the offseason and we’re way more motivated this year,” he said. “The guys have made it a better season. I come out every day and not only am I trying to make them better, they’re helping me.

“We know how good we can be, and we know right now we’re not there. But come state tournament time, we have to bear down and everybody has to have their game face on. We’re almost there. I’m trying to lead by example in that aspect. The entire team has that potential, to show their best.”

Rust points to Kopecky and fellow senior captains Connor Rust and Javon Bea as the Eagles’ experienced leaders. “We’ve got three seniors who have been on the team since seventh grade, and I’m sure they all have that same goal in mind,” he said of the championship aspirations.

Kopecky will play collegiate tennis at DePauw University, a Divison III school in Greencastle, Ind. When his college career is over, he knows spinal surgery may be in the cards. For now, he is vigilant about taking care of his body. He works on core strength and stretching. He has an inversion table at home, which flips him upside down and takes the tension off his back, and he also uses a Tens (Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation) unit.

The scoliosis – in Ben’s case a 49-degree spinal curvature – was discovered when he was in sixth grade. The spondylosis is a different matter; the bony notches attached to a lower vertebra are separated. “I think my right one is severed and all the pressure on my lower back is on the left one,” he said.

That condition was discovered after the state tournament when he was a sophomore.
“I felt something in my back,” he said. “It got worse and worse, and the only way I made it through finals of individuals was off of adrenaline. Because I was out for the next week.”

And then he adds, almost matter-of-factly, “It’s nothing that can really go away. But everybody’s got injuries.”

The thoughts of injuries and all other distractions evaporate when Ben is on the court. For a senior religion class, he wrote a paper about where tennis takes him.

“I wrote that tennis was my refuge,” he said. “When I’m in that state, nothing else can bother me. I just have one thing to focus on, and that’s when I feel the best. I can just put everything aside and focus on one goal.”

--For more photos of Ben, go to the MSHSL page on Facebook.

--John Millea is on Twitter at twitter.com/mshsljohn

--Join the MSHSL on Facebook; simply search for “MSHSL” and become a fan

Time For Turf in Minneapolis5/4/2010
I’m planning to get some fresh air this afternoon and help support a good cause at the same time.

Minneapolis Public Schools will hold a kickoff event today for their effort to raise funds in order to install turf fields at two high school football fields. The program is called “Team Up For Turf: Funding Fields For The Future.”

The Minneapolis Public Schools have committed to raising $1.25 million to convert the football fields at Washburn High School and Patrick Henry High School to state-of-the-art synthetic turf fields to suit football, soccer and lacrosse games. By 2013, MPS hopes to raise enough additional funds to cover the cost of at least one more synthetic turf project. All fields would be available for the use of schools, parks and Minneapolis youth.

Today’s event will be held from 3 to 4 p.m. at the Patrick Henry football field, 4320 Newton Avenue North.

I’ll take some photos at the event, post them on Facebook and Twitter, and write about the festivities here on John’s Journal.

--John Millea is on Twitter at twitter.com/mshsljohn

--Join the MSHSL on Facebook; simply search for “MSHSL” and become a fan
A Sunny, Breezy Kickoff for Turf in Minneapolis5/4/2010
There was a pep band. There were balloons. I ate a cheeseburger and drank a Diet Coke. All in all, it was a very neat afternoon at Don Swanson Stadium, home of the Minneapolis Patrick Henry High School football, soccer and track teams.

The event, held by Minneapolis Public Schools, was the kickoff for efforts to raise funds in order to install turf fields at Henry as well as Washburn High School. The program is called “Team Up For Turf: Funding Fields For The Future.”

As Steve Liss, the district’s Chief of Policy and Operations, told the crowd assembled for the event, “We believe the donors are out there and we have the support in the community to make this vision a reality.”

The district has committed to raising $1.25 million to convert the football fields at Washburn and Henry to state-of-the-art synthetic turf fields to suit football, soccer and lacrosse games. By 2013, MPS hopes to raise enough additional funds to cover the cost of at least one more synthetic turf project. All fields would be available for the use of schools, parks and Minneapolis youth. Henry and Washburn were chosen first because their stadiums are fully equipped with lights and press box facilities.

John Washington, director of athletics for the district, said, “This isn’t a Henry and Washburn project. This is a Minneapolis district project.”

On the football field, balloons were tied to football helmets from each of the district’s seven high schools. After a drum roll, those balloons were released into the breeze-filled air. Four members of the Minnesota Stars professional soccer team also helped, kicking four soccer balls while Henry football coach (and former Viking) John Swain threw a football downfield.

After the formal events were completed, students and adults were invited to kick or throw footballs or boot soccer balls. All who participated were allowed to select an item from a large gathering of goodies, ranging from iPods to Twins tickets to footballs, soccer balls and assorted apparel (including apparel donated by the MSHSL).

I shot some photos during the event, and you can find several of them on our Facebook page (and one on Twitter). If you haven’t joined our growing Facebook and Twitter groups, now’s the time!

--John Millea is on Twitter at twitter.com/mshsljohn

--Join the MSHSL on Facebook; simply search for “MSHSL” and become a fan

If It's Monday, This Must Be Brainerd 5/3/2010
Yes, this dispatch is being filed from Brainerd, site of another in a series of MSHSL area meetings. After an early-morning departure from the Twin Cities, the MSHSL crew has arrived at The Lodge at Brainerd Lakes.

Administrators, along with several students here to learn about the Student Sports Information Directors program, are arriving and the meeting will begin at 10 a.m. After Howard Voigt and I speak to the entire group during the meeting, we will break off with the students and chat in another room.

Lunch will end the festivities, after which we will return back to headquarters. Be sure to look atTwitter and Facebook for photos from today.

Have a great Monday!

--John Millea is on Twitter at twitter.com/mshsljohn

--Join the MSHSL on Facebook; simply search for “MSHSL” and become a fan