John's Journal
Remembering Lee Alto, MSHSL Hall Of Fame Member10/12/2019
Lee Alto, a former member of the MSHSL board of directors and an inductee into the MSHSL Hall of Fame, died Thursday in Grand Rapids. He was 73. He served on the MSHSL board from 2000 through 2004 and was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2000.

Lee spent his teaching career in Aitkin and Grand Rapids, and his obituary (below) states, "Lee was a man that wore many hats and will be deeply missed by all who knew him." He was an English teacher, drama, speech, debate, football, softball, and baseball coach.

Everyone associated with the Minnesota State High School League and schools all around our state extend their sympathies to Lee's family and friends.

LeRoy D. "The Little Guy” Alto, age 73 of Grand Rapids, MN passed away Thursday, October 10, 2019 at his home surrounded by his family.

Lee was born in 1945 to LeRoy and Evelyn Alto in Virginia, MN. Lee went to Mesabi Community College and the University of Minnesota Morris, where he earned his bachelor's degree in teaching. Lee taught in Aitkin, MN for 18 years, and then finished his teaching career in Grand Rapids High School after 18 years. He was an English teacher, drama, speech, debate, football, softball, and baseball coach. Lee and Sherri were married on August 29, 1998, and together they enjoyed watching the MN Vikings, Twins, and Gophers.

Lee had an avid love for all MN high school sports, loved to play slow pitch softball and go bowling. He was a loyal member of the Loyal Order of Moose, served on the MN State High School League Board, and was a Hall of Fame member. He loved playing blackjack, was a part-time comedian, and a man of many one-liners.

Lee was a man that wore many hats and will be deeply missed by all who knew him.

Preceded in death by his parents; and brothers, Charles and Richard. Lee is survived by his wife, Sherri; sons, David Alto, Craig (Dawn) Alto; daughter, Amy (Karl) Gotfredson; 10 grandchildren, Bailey, Paxton, Denielle, Mitchell, Brianna, Jordan, Ryan, Megan, Morgan, Zach; one great-grandchild, Quinn; mother-in-law, Lillian “The General” Lutterman; brother-in-law, Marv (Karen) Lutterman; sisters-in-law, Barb Lutterman, Carol (Tony) Burke, Donna (Rich) Derby, Sandy (Duane) Crowe; special friends, Jim and Sharon Haiskanen, Jerry Laird; and many other friends.

Memorials are preferred.

Visitation will be Tuesday, October 15, 2019 from 4:00-7:00 PM at Rowe Funeral Home, Grand Rapids, MN and on Wednesday, October 16, 2019 at 10:00 AM at Zion Lutheran Evangelical Church, Grand Rapids, MN. The Funeral Service will follow at 11:00 AM. Rev. Ben Buchanan will officiate. Burial will be at Itasca-Calvary Cemetery, Grand Rapids, MN.

Arrangements are with Rowe Funeral Home and Cremation Services of Grand Rapids, MN. To sign the online guestbook or send condolences visit

Class 3A Volleyball Rankings10/7/2019
From the Minnesota Volleyball Coaches Association.

1. Eagan (16) - 240
2. Northfield - 222
3. Wayzata - 208
4. East Ridge - 187
5. Lakeville North - 174
6. Shakopee - 161
7. Lakeville South - 121
8. Moorhead - 99
9. Champlin Park - 98
10. Minnetonka - 88
Others Receiving Votes: STMA - 50
Teams only appearing on one ballot: Hutchinson, New Prague, Sartell-St. Stephen, Woodbury
Class 2A Volleyball Rankings10/7/2019
From the Minnesota Volleyball Coaches Association.

1. Stewartville (12) - 235
2. North Branch (1) - 212
3. Kasson-Mantorville (1) - 208
4. Marshall (2) - 206
5. Concordia Academy - 175
6. SW Christian - 164
7. Watertown-Mayer - 131
8. Belle Plaine - 130
9. New London-Spicer - 102
10. Sauk Centre - 93
Others Receiving Votes: Annandale - 18
Teams only appearing on one ballot: JCC
Class 1A Volleyball Rankings10/7/2019
From the Minnesota Volleyball Coaches Association.

1. Mayer Lutheran (15) - 239
2. Waterville-Elysian-Morristown - 222
3. Minneota (1) - 211
4. Carlton - 193
5. Mabel-Canton - 163
6. Kittson County Central - 151
7. Kenyon-Wanamingo - 138
8. Caledonia - 123
9. Medford - 91
10. Canby - 34
Others Receiving Votes: BOLD - 32, Pine River-Backus - 26, Lakeview - 25, MACCRAY - 12
Teams only appearing on one ballot: Fosston, Greenyway, Russel-Tyler-Ruthton
Because A Plan Was In Place, An Official’s Life Was Saved10/7/2019
KIMBALL – When veteran football official Mike Canfield went down with a cardiac issue during a junior varsity game here last week, a plan to save his life was already in place. And because the plan was executed to perfection, Mike is still with us.

Here's the end of the story: surgeons placed two coronary artery stents near Mike's heart and he’s in recovery mode. The 71-year-old from Waite Park is eternally grateful that coaches and others followed the MSHSL Emergency Action Plan advice and were ready when the emergency happened.

"We did have a plan," said Kimball activities director Byron Westrich, “and one of my coaches texted me right away, saying ‘Thank goodness you had that plan.’ It worked like clockwork.”

Emergency Action Plans are simple. Everyone on hand knows their role. When Canfield collapsed on the field during the third quarter of a game between Morris and Kimball, Kimball head coach Johnny Benson did his job and went right to Canfield; assistant coaches Jamie Liether and Jake Gagne did their jobs and ran to get AEDs (automated external defibrillators); assistant coach Joe Anderson called 911 and continued to do his job when an ambulance arrived, directing the crew to Mike’s location.

Mike Schindler, a former Kimball wrestling coach who is a firefighter and trained first responder, has a son on the football team and was watching from the stands. He was chatting with a buddy when he saw the official collapse. Schindler ran to Canfield. His description of what happened is gripping.

“He was seizing, he went limp. Two AEDs were there right away, which was awesome. We got one hooked up and it told us to shock right away. We started (chest) compressions; we did four rounds of 30 compressions with breath between each 30, then we saw that he was breathing. We checked for a pulse and we got the pulse back.”

A couple from Morris, Paige and Rich Hardy, performed CPR. Paige is a nurse at Stevens Community Medical Center in Morris and Rich is an athletic trainer at the University of Minnesota-Morris.

Canfield was conscious but not very alert when he was loaded into the ambulance, bound for St. Cloud Hospital. He became fully alert, however, as they were about five miles out of Kimball.

“I’ll tell you what, I’ve never seen that before,” Schindler said. “It was awesome.

“I’ve performed CPR way too many times. There was a group of people that did the job, got stuff done that needed to be done. Everything clicked.”

Canfield has been officiating for 48 years and no longer works varsity games, but he is one of countless officials who are committed to making sure the games go on and student-athletes have great experiences.

“Everybody did their job without hesitation and together saved a life,” Leither said. “The plan that was put together for us worked to a T. I hope we never have to use the plan again, but we know that it does work.”

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