John's Journal
Three Schools, Three States, One Team: The Tri-State Tigers1/17/2020
The communities of Campbell, Tintah, Fairmount and Rosholt have a combined population of barely a thousand people. Rosholt is the largest with 423 residents, Tintah is the teeniest with 63. When high school athletes compete, the four little towns are one.

The teams are known as the Tri-State Tigers. That's because the schools involved in the cooperative athletic programs are in three different states. The Campbell-Tintah school district is in Minnesota, Fairmount in North Dakota and Rosholt in South Dakota. Where the state lines intersect, Tigers rule the countryside.

"They're all my friends," Alyssa Hensch, a Campbell-Tintah junior, said of her basketball teammate who live in both Dakotas. "Honestly, I wouldn't know them without sports.”

One day this week, the Tigers girls basketball team was practicing inside the historic little gym in Campbell. That evening, the boys basketball team played the visiting Central Cass Squirrels inside the modern, well-lit gym in Rosholt. The Squirrels are from the town of Casselton, 95 miles away on the prairie west of Fargo, N.D. They traveled on a charter bus.

For the Tigers, spending time in a school bus is part of the deal for almost all practices as well as games. It's a 12-mile drive from Campbell to Fairmount, and another 19 miles from Fairmount to Rosholt. If conditions are good it can be a 40-minute drive from Campbell through Fairmount and on to Rosholt; vehicles pass signs that proclaim “Welcome to North Dakota/Legendary” and “Welcome to South Dakota/Great Faces, Great Places.”

“We've grown up having to commute to practice and stuff every day,” said Campbell-Tintah senior basketball player Sam Viger. “So we've gotten used to it.”

The basketball players from Campbell-Tintah are the only high schoolers in Minnesota who play with shot clocks in every game. That's because both North Dakota and South Dakota use shot clocks (as well as eight-minute quarters instead of Minnesota’s 18-minute halves). During the regular season the Tigers are part of a basketball league, the Eastern Coteau Conference, which consists entirely of South Dakota schools. When the postseason arrives, the Tigers play in the North Dakota High School Activities Association playoffs.

But wait, there’s more. The Tigers also compete in North Dakota in football, volleyball, softball and golf, but in South Dakota in cross-country, and track and field. The softball team is a five-team coop, with North Dakota schools Hankinson and Lidgerwood joining in.
The cooperative agreement was originally formed for football in 2007, with other sports added to the arrangement in recent years.

Boys basketball coach Adam Krueger is Rosholt graduate and teacher who played football for the Tigers coop team. But when he was in school there were no golf, softball or cross-country teams, opportunities which are now available.

Girls basketball coach Brenda Dahlgren (who teaches in Fairmount) said, “When we were alone, we just didn't have enough athletes. South Dakota probably didn't need us yet, but they're at the edge of their state and they didn't have anybody else to coop with and we knew eventually it would happen. So they took us in and it's been nice. It does give everybody an opportunity.”

There is tremendous history to be found in the hallways of the century-old school in Campbell, including trophies from both the MSHSL and the NDHSAA. There are displays honoring Campbell native Errol Mann, a kicker who was a member of the Oakland Raiders’ winning Super Bowl XI team; Mike Cannon, another Campbell product who now lives in Hutchinson and is a high-ranking NCAA football official; and Eugene McCarthy, who taught social studies in Campbell in 1939-40 and went on to a political career that took him to the U.S. House of Representatives, the U.S. Senate and five presidential campaigns.

The 2019 graduating class from Campbell-Tintah consisted of six students, three fewer than in 2018. The local communities, no matter the state, work hard in providing opportunities for their students.

“We're really lucky because the kids, the schools and the parents are all really flexible,” Krueger said. “If something comes up we make a switch and we don't really hear much.”

The athletes often spend time together away from their sports.

“There are a lot of times where we will show up in Fairmount to pick up the Fairmount kids and we'll have Campbell kids already there,” Krueger said, “or we'll get a call that a bunch of Campbell kids are already in Rosholt because they're hanging out with the guys from Rosholt. So they're a really close group.”

Since the team members don’t attend school together, practice time can be disrupted just a bit with small talk, Krueger said with a grin.

“The only issue we've ever had with it is they miss each other. Not seeing each other in school, they get to practice and they want to talk and chat about what's going on.”

Campbell-Tintah sophomore basketball player Mary Rupp said playing for the Tigers is special.

“It's definitely different,” she said. “But I like how you can experience a whole different aspect of people because you're not stuck in one state or one school. We’ve got lots of friends from the other schools.”

--See photos from the Tri-State Tigers on the MSHSL Facebook page.

--Follow John on Twitter @MSHSLjohn, listen to "Preps Today with John Millea” wherever you get podcasts and hear him on Minnesota Public Radio.
Remembering Pete Veldman1/14/2020
Pete Veldman, one of the greatest supporters of high school activities in Minnesota history, has passed away. Veldman was the longtime athletic director at South St. Paul High School. He also was one of Minnesota's leaders in the fight for the addition of women’s athletics in the early 1970s and was co-coordinator of the Minnesota state high school wrestling tournament for 25 years.

His accomplishments and service to others have been much recognized. He was inducted into the Minnesota Wrestling Hall of Fame and the National Wrestling Hall of Fame. He was also been inducted into the Minnesota State High School Athletic Directors Hall of Fame and the Albert Lea High School Athletic Hall of Fame. He received the Minnesota High School Athletic Directors Distinguished Alumni Award in 2009. There he was honored as "one of the greatest contributors to athletics and education in Minnesota.”

The below story appeared in the Albert Lea Tribune in 2015 wen Veldman was recognized as a Distinguished Alumni of Albert Lea High School.

Peter Veldman grew up on a farm near Hollandale, the sixth of seven children of Hemmo and Titia Veldman who were immigrants from Holland. He attended what was then known as Westside Elementary, one of four rural elementary schools in the Hollandale area for first through eighth grade. He thinks back fondly of his days in that school with its two rooms, one for grades one through four and one for grades five through eight. Veldman said he always had wonderful teachers.

He entered Albert Lea High School in ninth grade and graduated in 1951. Veldman’s focus was on sports. He was a three-season athlete and high school star in football, wrestling and track and field. In football, he was considered one of the best long-range punters in the state. In track, Veldman threw weights. In wrestling, Veldman won the Minnesota Heavyweight Championship his senior year. LeRoy Maas, his coach for all three sports, said that Veldman was the most accomplished athlete he ever coached or observed throughout his 40 years as a high school educator. Veldman was also in Hi-Y, on the Senior Executive Council, a class officer, and a Junior Rotarian representing ALHS in sports. He was appointed to the Homecoming Court representing athletics and was also the Heart King for the Heart Dance his senior year.

Veldman attended and graduated from the University of Minnesota, where he was a contributing member of the 1957 and 1959 Big Ten Championship wrestling teams. Veldman served two years in the U.S. Army in Korea in 1954 to 1955 then came back and finished college, graduating in 1959 with a degree in physical education/health/history. Veldman received his master’s degree in educational administration and physical education from the University of Minnesota in 1968.

Veldman began his professional career mirroring his high school interests as a physical education teacher and coach of football and wrestling in the South St. Paul school district in 1959. In 1964 Veldman became the athletic director of South St. Paul Schools. He was one of Minnesota’s leaders in the fight for the addition of women’s athletics in the early 1970s.

Veldman was the co-coordinator of the Minnesota State High School Wrestling Tournament for 25 years while also continuing as athletic director in South St. Paul.

Veldman stayed actively involved with wrestling as a referee and official of high school and collegiate wrestling tournaments for 42 years. Recognized as one of the best officials in the country, Veldman was repeatedly selected to officiate hundreds of high school wrestling meets, Minnesota State Wrestling Tournaments, and NCAA Division I, Division II, and NCAA Big 10 Wrestling Tournaments. He held these positions part-time while he continued his teaching/administrative career, and continued the work in his retirement.

Veldman’s volunteer work included being president of the University of Minnesota Graduate M Club, serving on the board of directors for the Minnesota State High School League and serving as executive secretary of the Classic Suburban Conference. In retirement he worked as executive secretary of the Minnesota Athletic Administrators Association. Pete was also the co-founder and president of the ALHS LeRoy Maas Wrestling Scholarship Fund.

His accomplishments and service to others have been much recognized. He was inducted into the Minnesota Wrestling Hall of Fame and the National Wrestling Hall of Fame. He was also been inducted into the Minnesota State High School Athletic Directors Hall of Fame and the Albert Lea High School Athletic Hall of Fame. He received the Minnesota High School Athletic Directors Distinguished Alumni Award in 2009. There he was honored as “one of the greatest contributors to athletics and education in Minnesota.”

He has also received the NIAAA State Award of Merit. For his career-long dedication and successes, South St. Paul High School honored Veldman’s extensive service to the district and community by establishing the Pete Veldman Wrestling Room and creating the Annual Veldman Invitational Wrestling Tournament.

Veldman’s success has been shared and supported by his wife Arlene since their marriage in 1958. They have four wonderful sons and 13 grandchildren, who Pete said are his most important pleasures in life. They have all been successful in their scholastic and athletic endeavors.

He completely retired in 2014. He said he enjoys spending time at his lake cabin and watching his grandchildren in all their activities.
Everybody In Moose Lake And Beyond Knows Mary Ellen Dewey 1/10/2020
MOOSE LAKE – My plan in going to Moose Lake for a boys basketball game on Thursday night was pretty simple. The subject of the story that would result was Mary Ellen Dewey. I didn't know much about Mary Ellen until a couple days earlier, other than the amazing fact that she has kept a scorebook for every basketball game she has attended over 58 years. We talked on the phone Tuesday and I knew I was in for a real treat.

She was a 15-year-old sophomore (then she was Mary Ellen Funda, "Like in fun," she told me on the phone) at St. John's Academy in Jamestown, N.D. The fact that a boy she liked, Pat Dewey, was on the basketball team probably played a role in Mary Ellen learning how to keep a scorebook. They graduated from high school in 1965 and got married several years later as Pat became a coach. Mary Ellen and her scorebook have always been there for basketball games when Pat was coaching, when their two sons played, and now as they have grandsons playing at Moose Lake-Willow River.

While in Moose Lake for the game, I Tweeted some photos of Mary Ellen and a brief description of her 58 years with a scorebook in her lap. I soon learned that the best way to describe Mary Ellen and Pat is to let people who know them best do it. The Tweets began to fly …

I don't think Mrs. Dewey ever missed a game that Dew coached. She's a wonderful woman, thanks for sharing her story. … Josh Weise.

She and her husband are both amazing human beings. Kindest and nicest people you'll ever meet in your life. They always greet everyone they meet with a warm and genuine smile. I had the honor of playing for her husband and I don't think she ever missed a game. … Ben Drilling.

A perfect story to share statewide on a wonderful woman and family. … Tim Franklin.

I was fortunate to grow up in Sandstone with the Dewey family as my "other parents." I would often tease my Mom that her many wonderful home cooked meals were excellent, but not on the same level as Mary Ellen Dewey! … Rob Lundorff.

Mary Ellen and Pat Dewey! Two of the greatest people in the world!! … Tom Wetschka.

Her and Pat are two of the nicest people I've ever met and worked with in my broadcasting career. Mary Ellen also makes a killler "Death by Chocolate" dessert. … Jim Erickson.

I received a little gift from Mary Ellen and her kitchen; she sent me home with some delicious blueberry muffins. She is well-known for bringing bars for officials and goodies for her family’s teams. It’s remarkable that Pat is so fit and trim from a lifetime of those treats; he coached for 32 years in nearby Sandstone (the school is now East Central), including basketball, track and field, football and baseball, and also worked as the athletic director before retiring.

Mary Ellen has been there in the gym every time, while also maintaining baseball scorebooks and joining Pat on football scouting trips.

“When you are married to a coach and they come home after a game, they replay the whole game,” said Mary Ellen, who was a basketball player in high school. “There weren’t computers, you did stats with a pencil.”

When the Moose Lake-Willow River Rebels score – which they did a lot in Thursday’s 84-40 victory over the Silver Bay Mariners – the hometown fans cheer and Mary Ellen’s head quickly dips into her scorebook as she notes who got the points. She has spent a lot of time as an official scorekeeper over the decades, but now she primarily keeps a book from her bleacher seat.

“She does a fantastic job,” said Rebels coach Wes Cummins. “I’ve had managers do my stats but I can go to her after games because she keeps real detailed stats. And (Mary Ellen and Pat) do scouting for us; they’ll email me a whole scouting report.”

Mary Ellen and Pat are called Grandma and Grandpa by lots of young folks, most of whom are not their grandchildren. Their grandsons who play for the Rebels are senior Ben, sophomore Sam and eighth-grader Luke. Their father, Paul Dewey, is an assistant coach and they have a little sister, Isabella, who is on a sixth-grade basketball team coached by her (actual) Grandpa Dewey.

Mary Ellen is a very busy 72-year-old. She writes high school sports stories for the local newspaper, writes a weekly recipe column and has been handling local folks’ taxes with H&R Block for 43 years.

Thursday’s game had all the typical trappings of a classic high school event. There was a 50-50 raffle with proceeds going to the choir and band spring trip, root beer floats sold to benefit the post-prom party, hot pizza at the concession stand, a large group of enthusiastic student fans, and senior basketball player Michael Olson singing a splendid national anthem. Everybody knew Mary Ellen and Pat.

“I keep track even if my kids aren’t involved,” she said. “I pay attention to the game instead of people-watch. I’ve always done that even if I don’t have people playing.”

How different would it be if Mary Ellen and her scorebook weren’t in the gym?

“It's never happened,” Cummins said. “I guess we’d probably first call the police.”

As grandson Sam put it, if his grandma wasn’t on hand “There'd be a hole for sure.”

Mary Ellen and Pat also travel to the Twin Cities for games involving two more grandkids, children of their son Dan. Mary Ellen has saved all her scorebooks from multiple sports but has no idea how many games she has witnessed. There are periods in which she has kept score for 10 games in seven days.

“I would never go to Arizona in the winter,” she said. “I don’t know how people do that when they have kids playing.”

Pat said, “She's passionate about it. Sometimes she's the first fan here.”

Mary Ellen and Pat have attended every boys state basketball tournament since 1970. By that time of the year, basketball is winding down. Mary Ellen doesn’t much care for that.

“I go through popcorn withdrawal in April,” she said with a smile.

--See photos of Mary Ellen Dewey on the MSHSL Facebook page.

--Follow John on Twitter @MSHSLjohn, listen to "Preps Today with John Millea” wherever you get podcasts and hear him on Minnesota Public Radio.
Remembering Doug Woog, The Nice Guy From South St. Paul 1/6/2020
When South St. Paul won its first girls hockey state championship in 2002, the celebration began immediately as the horn sounded on a 2-1 victory over White Bear Lake at the State Fairgrounds Coliseum.

Dave Palmquist, who has coached the Packers to 14 state tournaments and six championships, will never forget one of the first people to congratulate him after state title No. 1.

It was Doug Woog.

"He was the first guy on the bench, giving me a hug," Palmquist said after a recent game at Doug Woog Arena in South St. Paul. “I'll never forget it. It meant so much to me.”

Woog, a man whose ties to his hometown never loosened, died Dec. 14 at age 75. He was most known as the University of Minnesota men's hockey coach from 1985 to 1999 and as a TV commentator for Gophers games after that. For folks in South St. Paul and beyond, he was someone who always gave of himself whenever anyone needed him.

“He was the most genuine person,” Palmquist said. “I went up to all his family (at a recent memorial gathering) and told them that he was just the nicest human being, genuinely so kind. And so good to me. I'm very blessed to have known him.”

Woog graduated from South St. Paul High School in 1962. In later years he lived close to the school as well as the field where the Packers football team practiced.

“He had a routine where he'd come up and jog around the practice field,” said athletic director/football coach Chad Sexauer. “And every now and then he'd stop and talk to a coach or an eighth-grade kid on the team.”

That was Doug Woog. He would spend time with a coach, a youngster or anyone else. He was never shy about that.

“He was just so visible in the community,” Sexauer said.

The local hockey rink was named Wakota Arena after its opening in 1962. It was renamed Doug Woog Arena in 2016. Woog’s Packers number 7 jersey has been retired, hanging on a wall of the arena along with those of Phil Housley, Terry Abrams and Warren Miller.

“It's just very cool that they named this arena after him and it'll be forever known for Doug,” Palmquist said. “I'll never forget that day, I know it meant a lot to him.”

Tom Elliott, longtime sports reporter at the St. Cloud Times who recently became sports editor of the West Central Tribune in Willmar, wrote about Woog after his death. Tom grew up in South St. Paul when Doug was a high school guidance counselor and coach. Tom wrote…

Woog was hired to coach South St. Paul’s boys hockey team in 1977. My pal Larry Leporte and I decided we should do a big profile of the new coach in the school paper. Woog met with us and mesmerized me with his insight, knowledge and patience with what I’m sure were occasionally silly questions. He also made us laugh and put us at ease.

We wrote it up and it was published just as hockey season started. I was worried about how it would be received. My worries went away when Woog told me he liked it and that I should become a sportswriter.

I thought he was kidding.

It wasn’t until I was in college that I was sure that journalism would be my path. I’ve had a lot of mentors along the way: teachers, professors, instructors, advisors, editors and co-workers. But it was Woog who first planted the thought in my head that it was a possibility.

Thanks for that, Doug. Rest in peace.

Again, that was Doug Woog, offering advice and encouragement, often in quiet conversations with anyone of any age.

While working at the Minneapolis Star Tribune, I covered Woog’s Gophers hockey teams for a few years in the 1990s. After our first meeting (for a tour of Mariucci Arena and lunch at Stub & Herb’s) he seemed like someone I had known for many years, and I knew I was in for a fun ride. And fun it was. This was before websites and blogs, and the small number of media members attending practices were allowed to sit on the team bench, observe, and chat with players and coaches … during practice.

One of my favorite Wooger memories came one summer. I was part of a Star Tribune team putting together a series of stories on the business of summer sports camps. Woog held hockey camps in Breezy Point, and I arranged to meet him one day at the Breezy Point rink.

I got there a little early, while youngsters were on the ice under the tutelage of high school coaches and college-age players. I asked someone, “Is Wooger around?” The reply: He was expected any minute.

I saw Doug as he walked through the doors of the rink. He was wearing shorts, a polo shirt and a cap. I don’t believe he was wearing golf spikes, but he had a golf glove on one hand.

“Boy, Wooger,” I said with a grin. “These camps are hard work.”

He laughed about getting out for the back nine. But he gave me all the time the interview required, plus a few extra minutes. He asked how my family was doing, how the job was treating me, what was new down in Iowa (he knew that was where I came from).

And he told me a story from a few days earlier at the camp. A young boy's wallet had disappeared and Woog was sure it had been stolen by another camper. As the kids gathered together in the evening, Doug made an announcement: “Someone has lost a wallet, which contains important medical information. Everybody please look around and if you happen to find the wallet, please put it in a prominent place so we can get it back to its owner.”

He knew it had been stolen, and he made up the story about medical information. Instead of coming down hard and conducting a search of the campers’ stuff, he wanted to give the offender the chance to return the wallet with no questions asked. And that’s exactly what happened.

That was Doug Woog.

--See photos from Doug Woog Arena on the MSHSL Facebook page.

--Follow John on Twitter @MSHSLjohn, listen to "Preps Today with John Millea” wherever you get podcasts and hear him on Minnesota Public Radio.
Underwood's Hamann To Receive Distinguished Service to Education Award1/3/2020
Congratulations to Underwood High School principal John Hamann, a former member and chairman of the MSHSL board of directors, for his selection as the recipient of the Distinguished Service to Education Award by the Minnesota Association of Secondary School Principals.

John has been a leader in education as a high school principal over the past 31 years and in education for the past 37 years. He was a member of the MSHSL board of directors from 2010 to 2014, serving as board president during the 2013-14 school year. During a career that has taken him from Wanamingo and Browns Valley, Minnesota, to Wyndmere, N.D., prior to his time in Underwood, John has coached wrestling, baseball, football and basketball.

The MASSP Distinguished Service to Education Award honors individuals who have committed themselves to the service of education in the state of Minnesota. The award is a very prestigious award for individuals who have made a positive impact on education across the state in a variety of leadership roles.

Hamann will be presented with the Distinguished Service of Education Award during the MASSP Winter Conference at the Minneapolis Marriott on Thursday, Jan. 30, at a noon luncheon. He will be recognized for his service to education by Executive Director Dave Adney, MASSP President Mark Mischke, Executive Committee, and Board of Directors.

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