John's Journal
The Secret’s Out: Cosgriff Retires After 21 Years At Hopkins7/9/2020
I'm on vacation this week, but sometimes news is more important than the calendar…

Had Covid-19 not derailed the girls state basketball tournament, Hopkins and Farmington would have met in the Class 4A state championship game at Williams Arena on March 14. The Hopkins Royals were 30-0 at that time and had won 62 games in a row, but the tournament was halted before the 4A title game.

Much earlier in the season – Dec. 6 to be precise – Hopkins played at Farmington in the Royals' sixth game of 2019-20. There was a big crowd on hand in the spacious Farmington gym, with Connecticut-bound Hopkins senior Paige Bueckers the main draw. Hopkins won 77-52, one of only two losses for the Farmington Tigers during the regular season.

While the junior varsity game was being played, I stood with Hopkins coach Brian Cosgriff in a corridor leading to the locker rooms. As we chatted, he said out of the blue: "This is my last season." I wasn’t exactly sure what he had said. “I’m retiring after the season,” he reiterated. He wasn’t making this announcement public and trusted me to keep that knowledge to myself. And of course, whether it’s a decades-long coach or a rookie coach, I would never break a promise. This was Brian’s news to share when he felt the time was right.

That time arrived today when Cosgriff’s retirement from coaching became official. He also has retired as a physical education teacher at Alice Smith Elementary School in Hopkins, a position he has held for 30 years and where the kids knew him as Mr. C.

Cosgriff was an assistant coach with the Hopkins boys basketball program for nine years before becoming the girls head coach in 1999. He retires with an astounding record of 569-67. His teams have been to 14 state tournaments, have played in 12 state championship games and won seven championships.

The numbers are one story and the person is another story. Brian always did what was best for his team and his players, he always respected the game, and he was always grateful for the opportunities he had. He also was grateful to the media for covering his team. I have lost count of how many Hopkins games and practices I have attended over the decades, but I do remember hearing Brian say “Hey, thanks for being here” on every occasion.

He’s a class act.

--Follow John on Twitter @MSHSLjohn, listen to "Preps Today with John Millea” wherever you get podcasts and hear him on Minnesota Public Radio.

Moorhead Spuds Are MSHSL Nickname Challenge Champions7/1/2020
In an epic state championship match in the MSHSL Nickname Challenge, the Moorhead Spuds have won by a whisker over the Blooming Prairie Awesome Blossoms.

With 6,782 votes cast in the title contest, the results were ...

Spuds 50.4%
Awesome Blossoms 49.6%

The total number of votes cast in the 64-nickname tournament was 87,074.

Congrats to all schools and voters!
Voting Is Open: Awesome Blossoms vs. Spuds6/29/2020
Voting is now underway in the state championship match of the MSHSL Nickname Challenge!

Who will claim the title in this 64-nickname tournament, the Moorhead Spuds or the Blooming Prairie Awesome Blossoms?

The voting period is 48 hours, ending at 11 a.m. Wednesday.

Prior to the state championship, a total of 80,202 votes had been cast in the contest that began on May 18.

Voting is done on Twitter by following @MSHSLjohn

Awesome Blossoms, Spuds In State Championship Nickname Match6/27/2020
The MSHSL Nickname Challenge state championship will be decided with final-round voting beginning on Monday, June 29. The contest began with 64 nicknames from all around Minnesota and now we are down to two powerhouses, one from the south and one from the north:

Blooming Prairie Awesome Blossoms
Moorhead Spuds

In the Final Four Semifinals, the Awesome Blossoms defeated the Thief River Falls Prowlers, winning 52.8% of the votes to 47.2% for the Prowlers; and the Spuds held off the Two Harbors Agates 54.4% to 45.6%

All voting is done on Twitter by following @MSHSLjohn
Prospective Officials Hear A Great Message 6/24/2020
Mike Spanier was talking about his lengthy career as a Division I basketball and NFL official when he made an important statement about the work of high school officials: "The relationships that I have formed over the years were best at the high school level and the small-college level. Even though I maintain some relationships with the major college and professional ranks, I can tell you that the relationships that I've formed with high school officials are the most memorable.”

Spanier was the keynote speaker Tuesday evening during a Zoom meeting initiated by the MSHSL as a way to encourage people to consider becoming officials and judges. More than 100 people took part in the session, which also included several other veteran officials making presentations.

Spanier, a longtime educator from central Minnesota, retired recently after 21 years in the NFL. His 40-year career as a basketball and football official began on the high school level, and he now works as the MSHSL state coordinator of football officials.

He was an athlete in high school who wanted to stay close to the sports he loved. He got his start officiating intramurals at St. Cloud State, and he encouraged those attending the Zoom meeting to take that first step.

“I applaud what you're doing,” he said. “I never set out to be a Division I official or an NFL official. I always approached it as, 'OK, this is the level I'm working at. I want to do the best I can.’ ”

Attendees learned about the steps needed to become an MSHSL official, how to mix officiating into a busy life, joining an officials association, and other related topics. Speakers talked about the relationships built with fellow officials, the learning and improving, staying fit and the money that can be earned.

After the meeting, the attendees were sent a link that let them connect with officials associations in their areas of the state. New officials are connected with a veteran who acts as a mentor. All officials complete online rules meetings, take an exam, go through a state-required concussion module and background check. The registration fee is $30 for one sport and $15 for each additional sport.

Spanier talked about getting his start with the MSHSL, and all the wonderful things that followed.

“Registering, being involved, being a part of a local association, gave me the opportunity for the support that I needed,” he said. “It gave me confidence. It gave me the exposure, the opportunities.

“It was unbelievable. They were so helpful, and the relationships that were established along the way, in high school athletics, were something I'll always cherish.”

--To register as an official, click on “Officials Registration” on the home page.

--Follow John on Twitter @MSHSLjohn, listen to "Preps Today with John Millea" wherever you get podcasts and hear him on Minnesota Public Radio.