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A Standing Ovation For All The Super Kids In New Prague
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 1/29/2015 4:54:47 PM

I received an email from New Prague superintendent Tim Dittberner earlier this week, alerting me to a very special event. The email included this statement: “The kids at New Prague are very inclusive to all kids within the student body -- no matter what their differences or abilities are.”

I’m certain that statement holds true every day in the halls and classrooms at school, at sporting events and everywhere students gather. It’s clear that they care about each other, based on what I witnessed Wednesday evening in the school auditorium.

This is Snoball Week at New Prague, which includes dress-up days (Safari Day, Camouflage/Flannel Day, etc.), a pepfest and a dance. Wednesday’s big event was the coronation of Snoball royalty, and it was something special.

Five senior boys, five senior girls and an equal number of juniors had been chosen as candidates. Two seniors would be named king and queen, with two juniors being named prince and princess.

The ceremony began with a slideshow featuring baby/toddler photos of each candidate and their answer to a question. This was great fun. Some examples…

--Q: What’s your favorite pickup line? A: “You must be Google because you have everything I’m looking for.”

--Q: Who is your favorite teacher? A: “Our school is filled with too many good ones.”

The candidates were introduced, talented juniors Alexis Solheid and Jacob Hurt did a wonderful job of singing “I'll Be (The Greatest Fan Of Your Life)” and the coronation followed.

The queen was Kristy Bendzick and the king was Kevin Bastyr (pictured here). The princess was Sarah Oxborough and the prince was Goy Kang. Kevin has cerebral palsy and Sarah is cognitively impaired; there was thunderous cheers and a standing ovation as they were crowned.

The other candidates were seniors Owen Guthridge, Lauren Bixby, Aric Becker, Sarah Goblirsch, Drew Schoenbauer, Hanna Maddaus, Ryan O'Rourke and Madison Frerk, and juniors Ebenezer Chinedu-Enh, Leah Bissell, Michael Knoer, Julia Bartusek, Matt Ademmer, Madison Schmitz, Frank Bartyzal and Brianna Ellanson,

Kevin Bastyr is well-known as the No. 1 fan of New Prague sports. When the Trojans boys hockey team went to state last year, they gave Kevin a jersey with his name on the back. When the hockey team holds Senior Night at its home game against Litchfield/Dassel-Cokato on Friday, Kevin will be recognized.

“He never misses a football or hockey game, no matter the weather -- home or away,” Dittberner said.

Tony Buthe, a former New Prague football coach and the district’s director of educational services, said “Kevin’s relationship with all the student-athletes is great. They just love him. And he loves to talk sports with any peer, but also any coach or teacher. He is the epitome of what New Prague schools is about. He’s just a super, super kid.”

*Schools/teams John has visited: 293
*Miles John has driven in the Toyota Camry in 2014-15: 6,503

The Magic Of Monticello And All High School Activities
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 1/26/2015 1:09:06 PM

Twenty years ago, nobody associated with the Monticello boys basketball team could have envisioned what took place Friday night. The 1994-95 Magic was a special group that went to the state tournament for the first time in school history and began a five-year run of consecutive trips to state.

Most of the players and coaches from that team were reunited Friday at Monticello High School. The teenagers from the mid-1990s are now thirty-somethings who were honored before the current Magic boys basketball team met Buffalo in a Mississippi 8 Conference game in the splendid Monticello gym.

The star of the evening was Nate Holmstadt. His number 54 jersey was retired, with a framed jersey being presented to Nate and a twin tribute to his career unveiled on the gym wall.

At 6-foot-8 and 250 pounds, Holmstadt averaged 25 points, 15 rebounds and 7.5 blocked shots per game as a senior in 1994-95. He was named the player of the year by the Minneapolis Star Tribune and shared Associated Press player of the year honors with Robert Mestas of Minneapolis Roosevelt.

Nate went on to play basketball at Montana State and now works for the California Highway Patrol.

“It’s really surreal,” Nate said after the pregame ceremony. “I haven’t seen a lot of these guys in a long time. I haven’t been back in a while, and a lot of the people in the stands, I haven’t seen them for a long time, either. It’s an unbelievable moment for me.”

The ceremony and that evening’s game was a celebration of everything that’s good about high school sports. We cheer for today’s teams and athletes, we remember those who came before and we revel in the atmosphere and the togetherness.

The entire 1994-95 team was honored, with all but four of the 15 players present. Each was introduced to the crowd by athletic director Gary Revenig, who talked about what each of them are doing now. One of the absent players was Brad Ibs, who is doing missionary work in Kenya. Another was Joel Przybilla, who was a freshman in 1994-95 and recently retired from basketball after 13 seasons in the NBA.

The other players are involved in careers ranging from sales to insurance to construction to architecture to health care to coaching. The coaching connection is Jason Schmidt, a senior in 1994-95 who now is the Magic head coach. Jason kicked off the plans to honor his old teammates, including their coach, Max LaVelle.

Retired and still living in Monticello, LaVelle talked about the team and thanked all involved in making high school activities happen.

“I’d like to thank, on behalf of these guys, their families,” the coach said. “They sacrificed a lot, with the time put in, transportation, money, meals, everything. I’d like to thank the managers, the cheerleaders, the coaches, the Monticello Times for the great coverage in the past and the present. And our fans. This is unbelievable, to have the support tonight. We really appreciate that.

“The pep band, the administration, the community, the staff, the youth coaches who worked with these guys as they were beginning to become basketball players.”

That’s a heck of a summary of what goes into these endeavors. In a lot of sports, athletes can play on offseason teams, travel the nation to tournaments and hope to catch the eye of college coaches. But how often do those teams gather again 20 years later to celebrate with their community?

The teams, the families, the cheerleaders, the band. The Magic and the magic.

*Schools/teams John has visited: 292
*Miles John has driven in the Toyota Camry in 2014-15: 6,447

Eastview Basketball: The Pride of South Dakota
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 1/23/2015 1:48:17 PM

The first family of Eastview basketball has a decidedly South Dakota feel. No wonder, when you learn that the Lightning girls coach is one of the legendary players in South Dakota high school and college history, and her twin children will continue their basketball careers at South Dakota colleges.

Here’s the rundown...

--Coach Melissa Guebert was South Dakota’s Miss Basketball in 1982, her senior season at Sioux Falls Lincoln High School, and she remains the all-time scoring leader at Augustana College, also in Sioux Falls.

--Madison Guebert, a 5-foot-8 Eastview senior on her mom’s team, is one of the top players in Minnesota and will continue her career at South Dakota State.

--Drew, a senior on the Eastview boys team and Madison’s twin brother, is a 6-foot-7 forward who will play college basketball at the University of Sioux Falls.

The family’s South Dakota roots run deep. Dan Guebbert (husband of Melissa and father of Madison, Drew and eighth-grade daughter Maci) also attended Augustana, as did Melissa’s parents and three brothers.

So when Madison and Drew embark for college, they will have grandparents and other relatives close by … even if they won’t be attending the “family” college.

“I think we would have been happy if one of them had picked Augustana,” Melissa said with a smile. “And we love Sioux Falls. So the fact that Drew is going to be at the University of Sioux Falls and Madison will be in Brookings; having family right there, it’s going to be great for us.”

The twins had plenty of other schools to choose from. Madison also took close looks at Creighton, Drake and Illinois, and Drew considered several schools in the Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference, three in South Dakota and American University in Washington, D.C.

Family roots wasn’t the sole reason for their college decisions, but it came into play.

“I didn’t want to base my decision on it, but it was definitely a factor,” Madison said. “It was hard just because there wasn’t anything I didn’t like at any of the schools. It’s hard to explain, it’s kind of like a feeling you get. And every time I went there (South Dakota State), even the first time I went there I was like, ‘Oh, I can see myself here.’ I said that about the other places, too, but there was just something else (about SDSU).”

Drew said, “For me it wasn’t a huge deal to stay around here but it kind of felt right and it’s nice for our family.”

One of the hurdles Madison had to deal with was her grandfather’s not-so-favorable feelings about South Dakota State, stemming from the rivalry between Augustana and South Dakota State.

Madison explained it like this: “Our grandpa has a hard time with South Dakota State.”

Melissa said, “My dad played basketball at Augustana. And even at the time when I played, South Dakota State was in our conference and there was a huge rivalry between Augustana and South Dakota State. It was a really tough place to go play at South Dakota State. My dad just had this almost bad feeling because the rivalry was so intense. So when Madison was first looking at the school, we said, ‘Hey, do you want to meet us at a game there?’ We had to really work to get him to come to a game.

“When Madison decided, I called him before Madison did. I just said to him, ‘She’s super excited and I hope when she calls you are excited for her.’ And he started to realize that he was going to get a chance to see her play. I think it became more about that than the school itself. It all boils down to an old rivalry for him and what that used to be like.”

Both Eastview teams are having good seasons. The girls (the defending Class 4A state champions) are 14-1 and ranked second in 4A; the boys have a record of 12-5.

Melissa said she is not certain that she will return as coach next season, because of the tug of wanting to watch her twins play in college. Juggling basketball lives and time commitments is nothing new for the Gueberts, however.

Eastview is playing several girl-boy varsity doubleheaders this season, which makes watching both children play an easy task. But on many game nights the girls and boys teams are in different places, with Dan watching Drew’s team play while Melissa and Madison are at their game.

“The only hard thing to me is not having my mom at some of my games,” said Drew.

Melissa said, “It’s hard for both of us. My decision to coach this year, I had to really think about it because it was Drew’s senior year, too. At the same time, if I wasn’t coaching it would still be a split, with my husband at his games, me at her games and we would have been switching.

“That sacrifice has been the hardest part about coaching. And our younger daughter, she sacrifices because of that, too. I know it hasn’t been easy but Drew’s been great about it.”

Melissa is an elementary teacher and Madison is considering a career in education (Drew is undecided). Their family life centers on basketball, but they find time for fishing trips and other family getaways.

“They eat, sleep and breathe basketball,” said Eastview activities director Matt Percival. “They can’t get enough of it, but in a really good, positive family way. Their family has been a very unifying thing for the basketball programs. Not only are they well-known but they are certainly very well-respected by everyone in our building and our community.”

*Schools/teams John has visited: 290
*Miles John has driven in the Toyota Camry in 2014-15: 6,322

29th Annual Minnesota Girls and Women in Sports Day
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 1/19/2015 11:42:01 AM

Some of Minnesota’s most inspiring and influential student-athletes, coaches and athletic leaders will be recognized at an award ceremony at noon on Wednesday, Feb. 4, at the Minnesota History Center in St. Paul. The award ceremony will be conducted in conjunction with the 29th annual National Girls and Women in Sports Day – a nationwide celebration recognizing the accomplishments of individuals in the promotion and advancement of girls’ and women’s sports. The 2015 ceremony will honor 18 individuals and one program receiving awards in seven separate categories. Award recipients are nominated by schools, community organizations, recreation centers, and amateur and professional sports organizations. All are invited to attend this special event. Award winners are below.

The Marie Berg Award for Excellence in Education – Carol Enke, Augsburg College

The Girls’ and Women’s Sports in the Media Award – Kwame McDonald (the Media Award will henceforth be named in honor of McDonald with a formal announcement to take place at the ceremony)

The Wilma Rudolph Award for Courage and Inspiration – Ronda Jo Donatucci,
Co-Director Metro Deaf School, former professional basketball player

Special Merit Award – Myron Glass, Rochester Lourdes High School

Special Merit Award – Jean Havlish, Former professional baseball player and bowler

Special Merit Award – Nicole M. LaVoi, University of Minnesota, Tucker Center for Research on Girls & Women in Sports

Minnesota Legacy Award – Joan Parent, Former MSHSL President

Minnesota Milestone Award – Edina High School Girls Tennis Program

2015 Breaking Barriers Awards
Pat Arens, Princeton community
Connie Boyum-Erzar, Deer River High School
Raquel DeBeltz-Bushman, Hutchinson Parks & Recreation
Ron Gunderson, New Prague High School
Bill Halbrehder, Minnesota Girls Hockey Coaches Association
Betty Haukebo, Park Rapids Area High Schools
Deb Johansen, A Recreational Inclusion Sport Endeavor (ARISE)
Jessica Just, Lakeville South High School
Mary Lager, St. Peter High School,
Mike Silk, Randolph High School
Erica Upton-Wurst, Houston High School

Minnesota Girls and Women in Sports Day is organized by the Minnesota Coalition of Women in Athletic Leadership.

From Far And Wide, Skating For Dodge County
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 1/14/2015 2:43:58 PM

KASSON – The Dodge County girls hockey team is a southern Minnesota independent squad that isn’t afraid to travel, with regular trips to games in the Twin Cities and forays this season to New Ulm and Warroad.

Spending time on the highway is not an issue for the Wildcats, many of whom are accustomed to lengthy commutes just to get to practice and home games. That’s because Dodge County is a cooperative team with eight different schools involved.

Those schools stretch from Zumbrota-Mazeppa to the north, Dover-Eyota to the east, Dodge Center in Triton to the west and Blooming Prairie to the south. Other members of the coop are Byron, Pine Island, Hayfield and Kasson-Mantorville, which is the host school for the coop.

How far-flung are the Wildcats? Well, consider that Dover-Eyota, Zumbrota-Mazeppa, Pine Island and Byron aren’t even in Dodge County.

Members of the girls hockey team come from seven of those eight schools, and the Wildcats are one of the top teams in the state, holding a 15-3 record and No. 8 ranking in Class 2A by Let’s Play Hockey. They were ranked as high as third earlier in the season.

Eleventh-grader defender Hollywood Hermanson (yes, that’s her real name) is a student at Dover-Eyota who spends 40 to 45 minutes on the road getting to and from Four Seasons Arena in Kasson.

“When you come here, everybody’s always happy,” she said. “And it’s different from school because we’re all from different communities. It’s really cool.” (Pictured are, left to right, Hermanson, Dana Rasmussen, Elly Strunk, Katie Robinson and Maggie Wick.)

Seventeen of the 28 players on the roster attend Kasson-Mantorville, with four from Byron, two each from Dover-Eyota and Hayfield, and one each from Pine Island, Zumbrota-Mazeppa and Blooming Prairie. The players are responsible for their own transportation to the rink.

“We have a really good following,” said coach Jeremy Gunderson, who lives in Mantorville. “Our communities do a good job. Girls basketball here is big, and Kasson-Mantorville athletics is good all around. We’ve got kids who are pretty good athletes. But hockey here is definitely not like at Edina or Warroad. We have a bunch of good athletes playing hockey, but it’s not a hockey hotbed by any means.”

Despite the lack of hotbed status, the Wildcats sport a talented roster. Senior forward Dana Rasmussen, who will play at Ohio State, leads the state with 41 goals. Junior defender Katie Robinson has committed to play at the University of Minnesota, three seniors will play Division III hockey and juniors Bella Wagner and Molly Shelton will decide among several Division I schools. Gunderson’s daughter Emily Gunderson is a freshman playing at Division I Lindenwood University.

The Wildcats have never qualified for the state tournament, but that is one of their goals this season and one of the reasons why the schedule includes opponents like Edina, Hill-Murray, Breck, Warroad and Lakeville North.

Dodge County lost to Lakeville North in the Section 1 title game the last two years, and fell to the Panthers in the section semifinals three years ago.

“It’s mentioned a lot,” Gunderson said of the goal of getting to state. “No more losing section final games. First it was, ‘Hey, let’s make the section final.’ Last year it was, ‘Let’s win this thing.’ They’re actually setting a higher goal this year, they want to win the state championship.”

The Wildcats lost to Lakeville North 1-0 in the Warroad holiday tournament (where Dodge Center beat Warroad and Eastview), but Gunderson said he saw a change in his team after that game.

“We hit five pipes, we outshot them, we outplayed them,” he said. “I got to see their eyes in the locker room afterwards, and it was a different group of kids. That game really got them past that hurdle. Now they’re no longer nervous or afraid, they’re more like hungry or wanting.”

Dodge County’s other losses this season were against Hill-Murray and Edina, both by 4-2 scores. Their final seven games of the regular season include contests with ranked teams Eden Prairie, Centennial, Breck, St. Paul United and Rochester John Marshall.

“We try to play a full metro schedule as much as possible,” Gunderson said. “Play the best to be the best, that’s our philosophy.”

The Wildcats players may be spread far and wide geographically, but they are a very close-knit group. They communicate during non-hockey time via group text messages, with as many as 80 texts flying through the air daily.

“I think it’s just a great team atmosphere,” Robinson said. “And since we’re from different towns we don’t see each other often, so it’s always fun to see each other. We have a fun group of girls.”

Rasmussen said, “It’s different, because we don’t see each other in school every day. I think it’s a great kind of different.”

*Schools/teams John has visited: 288
*Miles John has driven in the Toyota Camry in 2014-15: 6,198

A Very Special Event For Pillager And Menahga
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 1/10/2015 9:00:09 AM

Here's a remarkable, inspiring story that was sent my way. Enjoy!

Hi John,

I want to share an experience that I was a part of on Thursday night January 8, 2015! On a cold windy night in Northwestern Minnesota a great event took place. The stage was a conference girls basketball game between two young, building programs with coaches who have a great deal of respect for each other and for the programs they are each leading. That was only part of the script for this night. Several months ago the Special Olympics coaches from each school started planning. Never doubt what two determined and caring people can accomplish. Isaiah Hahn from Menahga and Kim Lund from Pillager started to plan for this night. They wanted to have their Unified Special Olympics teams compete against each other and they did on Thursday night!

The lights in the gym were turned off and a spotlight shined on the locker room door. As the announcer read off each name, the athletes came running into the gym to a standing ovation. The atmosphere was set! Part of the Unified sports team concept has regular education students playing alongside Special Olympic Athletes; Special Olympic Athletes were playing alongside the varsity athletes! The teams went up and down the court shooting for and scoring baskets. Fans were on their feet for most of the game! The Special Olympic Athletes were the stars for this night! Fists were pumping in the air, high fives were being passed around and throughout the game everyone was included in the action and a part of the team! What a rewarding experience for our Special Olympic Athletes and our varsity athletes.

Our National Honor Society members and adviser made the trip to Pillager and were a part of their very own cheering section, complete with posters and banners! It brings chills to me as I think of the look on the faces of the students on both teams. Once again, never doubt what caring people can accomplish! On this night the action of two individuals and the Special Education teams of each school made memories that will last a lifetime for anyone and everyone in attendance.

Daniel J. Stifter
Menahga High School

(I have included a photo of the teams! The picture kind of sums it all up! I thought maybe this would be something for your Journal! I always enjoy reading of your travels and the things you are able to see and observe happening in high school activities. We hope to make this an annual game and would love to have you be a part of it! Thanks for your efforts to promote the good that so many people do for our students.)

For Edina and Richfield Wrestling, A Team Of Their Own
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 1/7/2015 1:38:05 PM

There has been a downward trend in wrestling: Schools faced with shortages of athletes forming cooperative teams with neighboring schools as a way to keep the sport alive.

Ten years ago, there were 262 high school wrestling teams in Minnesota; this season there are 254. And the number of schools involved in wrestling has fallen from 353 in 2004-05 to 343 currently.

In a dramatic reversal, however, two schools in the Twin Cities have ended a lengthy cooperative agreement and this season are striking out on their own … with their own teams, wearing their own school colors.

Wrestlers from Richfield and Edina had an on-again, off-again cooperative team for 20 years. The team was known as the Richfield/Edina Rampage, and there were some years when none of the wrestlers came from Edina. Now wrestlers from those schools proudly represent the Edina Hornets and the Richfield Spartans.

It’s a new thing, and it’s bringing excitement to both schools and the sport of wrestling.

“It only strengthens the sport,” said Josh Burhans, who was the head coach of the cooperative team for the previous four years and is now the head coach at Edina.

“Edina’s numbers were going up, Richfield was kind of leveling off,” he said. “It seemed like the right time for both schools, trying to take advantage of the numbers and being able to sustain two programs.”

The rosters of both teams are packed with sophomores and freshmen, some of them wrestling for the first time. The teams are taking their lumps this season, but it’s all part of the process.

“We have some nice leaders, some good experience but we’re very young. It’s a great group to build on,” said Richfield head coach Carl Maiers, who was an assistant at Bloomington Kennedy the last three years.

Richfield has had more of a wrestling tradition over the years. The cooperative team was always based at Richfield, with wrestlers from Edina responsible for their own transportation to and from practices.

Edina activities director Troy Stein said, “It’s been 20 years since Edina had its own team. There were quite a few years when we didn’t have any wrestlers or any connection or coop with Richfield.

“When I took this job last year, Josh was one of the first coaches to come to me. We started a conversation about the prospect of splitting and growing. Josh has been the driving force behind this.”

Burhans had prior coaching experience at Farmington, Richfield and Eagan before running the Richfield/Edina team.

“First it was just kind of an initial conversation with Troy, to see what was involved,” he said. “If it was going to happen the time had to be now.”

Edina’s first home wrestling competition in 20 years took place on Dec. 16 with a triangular involving Champlin Park and Burnsville. With two mats being used, the pep band playing and fans cheering, it was a festive night. But as all wrestlers know, what happens in practice pays off in competition.

“The kids are working hard, the focus of the program is improving each day,” said Burhans, whose Edina roster of 31 wrestlers includes six seniors, six juniors and 21 football players. “They step on the mat for each practice and they practice with a purpose to improve. That goes for the first-year guys or guys who have been with us four or five years now.”

At Richfield there are two seniors and one junior on a roster of 20 wrestlers.

“We have a good mixture,” said Maiers, who at 24 is among the youngest head coaches in the state. “We have some nice leaders, some good experience but we’re very young. It’s a great group to build on.”

Richfield activities director Todd Olson (a former football coach at Edina) said, “Participation in athletics can be fleeting and Carl’s done a great job, he’s linked the program with the community, middle school and ninth-grade wrestling. We’ve been more competitive than I thought. When you take away forfeiture matches, we hang in there pretty well.”

Richfield defeated Edina in a December match, and the Spartans also took pride in a win over Hopkins.

“I’ve loved it so far,” Maiers said. “To see these kids grow has been awesome, and to see middle school and youth kids get involved is great.

“I think it’s amazing that Edina and Richfield are kind of bucking the trend.”

*Schools/teams John has visited: 276
*Miles John has driven in the Toyota Camry in 2014-15: 6,010

Coaching, Parenting: Duluth East’s Randolph Does Both
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 1/5/2015 2:43:37 PM

DULUTH – Mike Randolph has been coaching boys hockey at Duluth East for a long time with a great deal of success, including 15 trips to the state tournament and two state championships. Last week Randolph recorded his 550th career victory.

But something new and different is happening this season, his 26th as coach of the Greyhounds: Randolph is not on the bench for all the games.

You see, Randolph is being pulled in two directions. One is his team. The other is his son. Jake Randolph is a freshman hockey player at the University of Nebraska-Omaha. So in a wonderfully creative twist, Randolph is missing five or six games this season while watching his son play.

“It kind of shows how much he loves to watch me play,” said Jake. “It’s been pretty special.” (Pictured are Jake with his parents, Ginny and Mike.)

The arrangement was worked out with the blessing of school administrators and parents of the Duluth East players. Mike Randolph, 63, who retired last year as an elementary teacher, was also thinking about retiring from coaching in order to watch Jake play. But nobody wanted that to happen.

“It was brought up at the banquet at the end of last year,” Mike Randolph said. “At that time a lot of the parents knew that Jake was going into college hockey and they knew that I was very interested in seeing him play.

“Basically I just told them, ‘I’m like you. I want to see my kid play. To be honest with you, if our high school team is playing at Andover and Jake’s playing at North Dakota, guess where I’m going to go?’ That kind of dialogue took place and they said, ‘Let’s wait and see what it’s like but we sure don’t want you to quit.’ There was a lot of support from parents.”

After the East and Nebraska-Omaha schedules were finalized, Randolph sat down with activities director Shawn Roed.

“I went to Shawn and laid it out to him,” Randolph said. “I told him what games I would miss and we put it together that way. I’ve never done this before. And to be able to do this, I feel very fortunate that Shawn was understanding, as were the parents.”

When Randolph misses games, assistant coaches Dylan Mills and Brendan Brooks are in charge. They played for Randolph at East are well-versed in what the head coach expects.

“Both of them played for me, they’ve been my assistants for a while, I’m very comfortable with them and the team is in good hands,” Randolph said.

“Mike kind of lays out what he expects,” Brooks said. “Dylan and myself go over that with him and we have a pretty good understanding of what he’s looking for. Mike has a plan, he has a master plan for everything. We’re his lieutenants and we carry out orders.”

East’s junior-varsity coaches are tasked with updating Randolph via text messages during games he misses. On occasion, however, he is able to watch East games online from his hotel room. That was the case during the Greyhounds’ season opener at Wayzata … unbeknownst to Brooks and Mills.

“My phone was beeping so often because he was watching the game online in Omaha,” Brooks said. “I almost had to shut my phone off. I was texting him between periods, ‘I got it, Mike.’ And he was giving me line change combinations, ‘Move this guy to this line.’

“It was kind of like having him there. But I didn’t know the game was online, so it was like, ‘How is he seeing this?’ Having played for Mike Randolph, we always felt like he was everywhere.”

In addition to trips to Omaha, Randolph made his first visit to Ralph Engelstad Arena in Grand Forks when Nebraska-Omaha played at North Dakota in late November. He also plans to see Nebraska-Omaha play at St. Cloud State and Minnesota-Duluth in February. His wife Ginny travels to most of the games with him.

Before the series at North Dakota, Nebraska-Omaha coach Dean Blais asked Jake Randolph, “Is your dad coming?” Jake replied, “Oh yeah, he’s not missing that.” To which Blais said, “Don’t they have games?”

Jake said, “He just kind of smiled and laughed. Even my roommates here will ask me about it. They’re surprised that my dad’s able to come down so much and see me play. People know about it and they say a lot of good things about it. It means so much to me. I’m happy to be able to see him when I’m playing and happy for the Hounds because they need him.”

Mike Randolph said he hopes the coaching/parenting arrangement continues throughout Jake’s college career.

“Long-term, I look at Jake and in four years he’ll probably be done playing,” Mike said. “Then I might want to be still coaching. Where, if I quit, in four years who knows where I’m at? I still really enjoy coaching, I enjoy it a lot. It just happens that both are happening at the same time.”

*Schools/teams John has visited: 276
*Miles John has driven in the Toyota Camry in 2014-15: 6,010

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