John's Journal
Prep Bowl Highlight Video12/13/2016
This is too good not to share. Thanks to our broadcast partner KSTC-TV Channel 45 for putting this together.

2016 Prep Bowl - Music Video
John’s Mailbag: Transfers And Shot Clocks12/12/2016
For this installment of John’s Mailbag, let’s delve into a couple of questions that are often brought up.

Question: How many people do you have working on making sure that athletic transfers are following the rules?

First, a clarification: There is no such thing as an “athletic” transfer. Under Minnesota law, students are free to open enroll at the school of their choice. The MSHSL is responsible for governing the rules and bylaws of athletics and activities in the state, and student eligibility is part of that.

Another point to remember: The MSHSL is not the NCAA. The college governing body has an enforcement division which investigates possible rule violations. The MSHSL has no similar staff. On the high school level in Minnesota, the main responsibility for making sure these rules are followed falls to the schools.

When a student transfers from one school to another, administrators at both schools have a part in the process and sign off on the transfer. Yes, there is paperwork. Those documents come to the MSHSL office for review and approval. The student must meet one of five provisions in the transfer bylaw to be fully eligible; additionally, there are six specific provisions that can be appealed. There is also a hearing request process.

If you care to dive into the fine print, click the “Handbook” link near the top of this page. The bylaws regarding eligibility can be viewed there.

Question: How close are shot clocks to being implemented for basketball in Minnesota?

Sorry, shot clock fans. There is currently no strong effort to make shot clocks a requirement for high school basketball in Minnesota. The cost of installing shot clocks is an issue (this can be thousands of dollars), as is the cost to pay people to operate shot clocks during games.

In 2007 the MSHSL board of directors approved the use of 35-second shot clocks in limited circumstances: non-conference games and regular-season tournament games, on the condition that both teams agree. Boys coaches had pushed the idea, while girls coaches were largely silent.

The result has been a little underwhelming. Some gyms are equipped with shot clocks but they are rarely used. Small schools in particular seem to be opposed to shot clocks, based partially on the expense.

Shot clocks are used to some extent for girls and/or boys basketball in eight states (California, Maryland, Massachusetts, New York, North Dakota, Rhode Island, South Dakota and Washington). Because those states don’t follow national high school rules in this area, their governing bodies are not allowed to be part of the National Federation of State High School Association Basketball Rules Committee.

When the MSHSL shot clock “experiment” was approved in 2007, some people believed the desire for shot clocks would grow quickly. In a story I wrote for the Minneapolis Star Tribune after the board approved shot clocks, one athletic director told me, “This is one of those things where if we start experimenting today, two or three years down the road we'll all be using shot clocks.”

That was almost a decade ago and the fervor for shot clocks hasn’t exactly been overwhelming.

Keep those questions coming.

--Send a message to me on Twitter. I'm @MSHSLjohn on that platform.

--Send me an email. My email address is jmillea@mshsl.org

--Snail mail? Why the heck not? Lick a stamp and send a note to John Millea, MSHSL, 2100 Freeway Blvd., Brooklyn Center MN 55430

--Post a message on the MSHSL Facebook page. Search for "MSHSL" on Facebook and post away.

BY THE NUMBERS
*Schools/teams John has seen/visited: 304
*Miles John has driven in the Toyota Camry in 2016-17: 5,300
*Follow John on Twitter: @MSHSLjohn
"A Display Of Overall Caring, Sportsmanship, And Respect"12/10/2016
Wonderful things happen in high school activities, and many times they have little to do with the results on the scoreboard. Here is one recent example, as described in a letter from a basketball official to the MSHSL...

I am writing to tell a story regarding a boys game I officiated on 12/6/16, Annandale at Maple Lake. After the National Anthem, the Maple Lake coach, Mr. Staloch, took the microphone and began speaking in regards to a very serious medical condition that the grandbaby of Mr. Dolan (Annandale coach) has been going through for the past seven months. He also stated they are all very lucky to be able to play the game, but how small and insignificant this particular game means as there are more serious issues we all deal with.

Mr. Staloch stated that the “halftime shootout” proceeds will go directly to the family of Mr. Dolan, and a bucket will be placed at half court for donations.

At halftime, I found myself standing on the court, in awe, as the Maple Lake players lined up, and each made an individual donation into the bucket. Shortly after halftime, an announcement was made that more than $1,000 was raised for the family.

With approximately two minutes left in the game, Mr. Dolan asked me to stop the game for a minute. He grabbed the microphone, thanked everyone for attending the game and for the generosity that was extended to his family. There was not a dry eye in the place. Mr. Dolan walked over to me, shook my hand, thanked me for officiating the game, and allowing the events to take place.

While wiping away my tears, I explained it was my pleasure to be a part of this, and I wished him and his family all the best.

I am very proud and honored to have witnessed such a display of overall caring, sportsmanship, and respect that the Maple Lake staff, fans, coaches and players had for the visiting team's coach, Mr. Dolan, and his family.

It was a game I will honestly never forget, for reasons that had absolutely nothing to do with the game of basketball.

Thank you for your time,
Dean Kerfeld
Runestone Officials Association
The Legend Of Marcus Harris, Three-Sport Coach At Breck 12/8/2016
Members of the girls basketball team at Breck don’t know much about their head coach’s background. That’s not odd, considering it’s been a few years since Marcus Harris was in the headlines as one of the nation’s top athletes.

“I’m not really sure about all that he did but I know he’s kind of a legend,” said senior captain Lauren Bilcik.

Legend is a good word to describe Harris. He was a football superstar at Brooklyn Center High School, where he set 16 school records and was named the Metro Player of the Year by the Minneapolis Star Tribune in 1992. His college career as a wide receiver at Wyoming was even more legendary.

Harris led the nation with 1,431 receiving yards as a sophomore in 1994. He finished his college career with 259 receptions for 4,518 yards and 38 touchdowns. He set an NCAA record for career receiving yards, finished ninth in the Heisman Trophy voting, was named a consensus All-American and received the Fred Biletnikoff Award as the nation's top wide receiver after his senior year in 1996.

He was drafted in the seventh round by the Detroit Lions, was released during training camp and later played in the Canadian Football League as well as in arena football.

“I was in just about everything you could be in for at least a week or so,” he said of his post-college football career.

These days, Harris is a busy man. Not only is he Breck’s girls basketball coach, he’s also an assistant football coach at the Golden Vallley school as well as the head softball coach. He is a father of three daughters whose day job is working on the grounds crew at Breck, which can mean some very long hours.

Most days he’s at work from 6 a.m. until 2:30 p.m. (although when snow falls he might be working at 3 or 4 in the morning making sure roads, parking lots and sidewalks on campus are clear of snow). That is followed by practices that can last until 6 p.m., and his daughters’ activities can stretch into the evening.

“It’s a long workday,” he said. “And then whenever my girls get done with their practices and whatnot, it can be tough to find sleep but we get it done.”

He coached at Brooklyn Center for several years before moving to Breck nine years ago. This is his second season as head girls basketball coach, and the Mustangs will take a 1-2 record into a home game Friday with Nova Classical Academy.

Their first victory of the season came Tuesday at Brooklyn Center when the Mustangs defeated the Centaurs 36-23. Harris remained seated throughout the game, his voice never rising as he spoke to his players and the officials. He said that isn’t always the case, especially during practice.

Junior team captain Keely Conroy said Harris is “always ready to talk to anybody whenever they want. He’s super instructive. He can joke around but also he stays really serious on the court because he wants us to be the best we can be.

“He pushes us really hard. I’m not going to lie, he pushes us. But that’s just because he wants us to live up to our potential. He really believes in us.”

Harris left Wyoming after his senior football season to pursue his professional dreams. He returned to his studies years later, completing a Bachelor of Arts degree in Social Science in 2015. He was inducted into the University of Wyoming Hall of Fame in 2004.

“Here I was without a degree, unable to pursue any coaching at a higher level, and I knew I needed to get this done and put my family in a better position,” he said. “I hustled up and got that done. I didn’t want those three and a half years I spent at Wyoming to go to waste.”

His original course of study was education, with the intention of becoming a teacher. Working with the teams at Breck helps fulfill that aspiration.

“It’s my way of teaching,” he said. “It’s a teaching atmosphere without walls. It energizes me to work with young people.”

Harris doesn’t often bring up his athletic accomplishments, even when others might.

“A lot of parents, they like to Google and look their kids’ coaches up,” he said. “Sometimes in football things will come up that lead to those kids maybe doing a search or something. I had a good corps of receivers a few years ago, and I gave them a CD that showed I actually knew what I was talking about.”

That’s OK, even if his basketball players don’t know the details.

“I know he was a college football player,” Conroy said. “That’s about all I know, to be honest.”

BY THE NUMBERS
*Schools/teams John has seen/visited: 292
*Miles John has driven in the Toyota Camry in 2016-17: 5,247
*Follow John on Twitter: @MSHSLjohn
Hockey Rankings: Class 2A Boys12/7/2016
The Associated Press poll for Minnesota Class 2A boys high school hockey, provided by Let's Play Hockey newspaper.

1. Eden Prairie 2-0-0 1
2. Stillwater 2-0-0 2
3. Grand Rapids 3-0-0 3
4. Elk River 2-0-0 4
5. Holy Family Catholic 3-0-0 5
6. Edina 3-1-0 7
7. St. Thomas Academy 3-1-0 6
8. Minnetonka 2-2-0 8
9. Centennial 2-0-0 9
10. Lakeville North 1-0-0 13

11. Duluth East, 12. Moorhead, 13. Wayzata, 14. Hill-Murray, 15. Lakeville South, 16. Prior Lake, 17. Maple Grove, 18. St. Michael-Albertville, 19. Bemidji, 20. White Bear Lake