John's Journal
John’s Top Five Concession Items
1. Buffalo football/ bison burgers
2. Stillwater soccer/ hot dogs
3. Montevideo football/ ice cream
4. Lakeville North cross-country/ chicken soup
5. Bethlehem Academy volleyball/ hot dogs
Champlin Park Tennis: ‘We All Cheer For Each Other’9/22/2016
Tuesday was an important day for the Champlin Park High School girls tennis team. It was photo day, with a professional photographer set up on the courts to shoot individual and team photos. Practice was put on pause for the day and fun reigned.

As they waited their turn in front of the camera, the 65 athletes hung out with their teammates; laughing, chatting, playing with coach Luke Shaw’s dog Ollie. Sixty-one of the tennis players wore game uniforms: tank tops and shorts. Four of them were dressed a little differently: long sleeves, athletic pants and hijabs, which are head scarves worn by Muslim women.

They may not have all dressed the same, but the 65 Rebels tennis players had everything else imaginable in common, including their enjoyment of tennis. They talked, they sang, they danced.

“I like being with friends and hanging out. It’s a sport I enjoy,” said ninth-grader Alisha Remtulla. Junior Arshia Hussain added, “I like the sense of community it has. We all cheer for each other.”

Alisha and Arshia were wearing something new to this year’s uniforms for the Muslim players. Their hijabs included team logos: rackets and the words “Rebel Tennis.”

The team hijabs, created by the players with help from the coaches, are a source of pride for everyone.

“As a team, we’re trying to reflect the diversity of our school,” Shaw said. “We have a large team with 65 kids and each year it gets a little more diverse. By having these young Muslim women walking through the halls wearing their tennis gear, it’s showing other young Muslim women that there’s a place for them on our tennis team. We’re glad they’re willing to promote our team through team hijabs.”

Senior Fatema Nathu is the most experienced tennis player among the Muslim girls. She plays on the varsity squad while the others – Alisha, Arshia and sophomore Hanaan Yusuf (who wore a “Rebels Lacrosse Superfan” t-shirt -- play on lower-level teams. All four were born in the U.S.; their parents or grandparents came to this country from all over the world.

“I’ve played tennis on and off since I was 6,” Fatema said. “I love how it’s an individual sport and a team sport. You get to work with yourself but you’re also together as a team. You get the best of both worlds.”

Having Muslim athletes as teammates has been a positive for all the Champlin Park players.

“Throughout our school we’re very diverse,” said senior Stacy Smith. “Our team is kind of leading others.”

Adding team logos to the hijabs this year provided a boost to team pride.

Fatema said, “I feel like it’s a really big deal because as Muslim athletes no one really pays attention to us, you could say. We are recognized as other athletes but with the hijab you’re being included with the uniform and you feel welcome and a part of something.”

Arshia added, “I think it’s a big step up for our team as well as our school. We’re representing our school and our tennis team. It’s specific to us and I really like how it says ‘Rebel Tennis.’ ”

Arshia’s mother, Nausheena Hussain, said, “Last year she absolutely loved being on the tennis team. That team, it feels like family. In high school you want to fit in, you want to be accepted. And it’s hard when you don’t look like the dominant culture and you visibly stand out. The coaches have been really great.

“Can you just imagine the feeling of somebody caring about the way you incorporate your faith into your extracurricular activities? It gave them the feeling that they truly are family. The coaches are like second parents to these kids. I’m really thankful they were able to have these hijabs for the girls.”

The response to the logo hijabs from teammates, other teams and parents from other schools has been positive.

“When we got them, people were saying things like, ‘Oh, I love that and it’s so amazing that our team got those,’ ” Arshia said. “Playing at matches, your opponent will tell you that they really like your gear, too.”

Alishia said, “Even walking across to go somewhere, all the parents will be like, ‘Oh, that’s so cool.’ They have you turn you head and they’ll say, ‘Oh, this is so great that the school is doing this for you.’ ”

Shaw said the Muslim team members are all quiet, respectful kids and great teammates.

“It’s been very positive. The girls helped design (the logo hijabs) and get them done. We try to do our best to be inclusive and our hope is that the younger girls see it, come out and be a part of our team, too.”

The Rebels tennis players are happy to be examples for other Muslims who might be considering joining teams.

“It’s a great way to encourage other Muslim athletes, not just here but in other districts and hopefully soon around the world,” Fatema said. “So people aren’t afraid to come out of their bubble just because they’re thinking, ‘Oh, I wear hijab so I won’t be able to play.’ You can do whatever you want. The head scarf doesn’t restrict you from doing anything you want to do.”

--To see a photo gallery from the Champlin Park tennis team, go to the MSHSL Facebook page.

*Schools/teams John has seen/visited: 62
*Miles John has driven in the Toyota Camry in 2016-17: 2,117
This Week's Football Rankings9/21/2016
The Associated Press state high school football polls for the week of September 21 (first-place votes in parentheses, record and total points as voted upon by a statewide panel of prep sportswriters).

School Total Points Prv
1. Totino-Grace (5) (3-0) 59 1
2. Lakeville North (1) (3-0) 55 2
3. Eden Prairie (2-1) 43 4
4. Rosemount (3-0) 40 6
5. Blaine (3-0) 38 5
6. Cretin-Derham Hall (3-0) 35 7
7. Minnetonka (3-0) 17 NR
(tie) Edina (2-1) 17 NR
9. East Ridge (2-1) 15 10
10. Maple Grove (2-1) 8 3
Others receiving votes: Burnsville 2, Stillwater 1.

School Total Points Prv
1. St. Michael-Albertville (7) (3-0) 79 1
2. Mankato West (3-0) 68 2
3. Spring Lake Park (3-0) 63 3
4. Mahtomedi (3-0) 52 4
5. Elk River (3-0) 51 5
6. Chanhassen (1) (3-0) 42 7
7. Alexandria (3-0) 30 8
8. Apple Valley (2-1) 15 9
9. Rogers (2-1) 11 6
10. SMB-Wolfpack (3-0) 8 10
(tie)Northfield (3-0) 8 NR
Others receiving votes: Waconia 4, St. Cloud Tech 3, Robbinsdale Cooper 3, Rochester Mayo 2, Chaska 1.

School Total Points Prv
1. Hutchinson (3) (3-0) 83 2
(tie) South St. Paul (6) (3-0) 83 1
3. Marshall (3-0) 69 3
4. Rocori (3-0) 66 4
5. Fridley (3-0) 47 5
6. Mound-Westonka (3-0) 36 6
7. Zimmerman (3-0) 32 8
(tie) Hermantown (3-0) 32 7
9. Kasson-Mantorville (3-0) 15 NR
10. Becker (1-2) 8 9
Others receiving votes: Benilde-St. Margaret's 7, Winona 6, Fergus Falls 6, Stewartville 2, Cloquet 2, Faribault 1.

School Total Points Prv
1. St. Croix Lutheran (4) (3-0) 71 2
2. Dilworth-Glyndon-Felton (2) (3-0) 70 3
3. Fairmont (3-0) 59 5
4. Jackson County Central (1) (3-0) 57 4
5. Belle Plaine (3-0) 51 6
6. Rochester Lourdes (3-0) 46 7
7. Tri-City United (1) (2-1) 19 1
8. Park Rapids (3-0) 16 NR
9. Litchfield (3-0) 14 NR
10. Proctor (2-1) 11 8
Others receiving votes: Morris Area-Chokio-Alberta 10, Annandale 6, Luverne 4, Minneapolis Henry 4, Pierz 2.

School Total Points Prv
1. Caledonia (7) (3-0) 70 1
2. Moose Lake Willow River (3-0) 62 2
3. Barnesville (3-0) 56 3
4. Eden Valley-Watkins (3-0) 44 4
5. Maple Lake (3-0) 41 5
6. Pillager (3-0) 31 6
7. Redwood Valley (3-0) 26 7
8. Lewiston-Altura (3-0) 20 8
9. Eveleth-Gilbert (3-0) 15 NR
10. Hawley (3-0) 11 NR
Others receiving votes: Zumbrota-Mazeppa 4, Crosby-Ironton 2, Lake Crystal-Wellcome Memorial 1, Royalton 1, Staples-Motley 1.

School Total Points Prv
1. Minneota (7) (3-0) 70 1
2. Minneapolis North (3-0) 61 2
3. Browerville (3-0) 56 4
4. Rushford-Peterson (3-0) 42 6
5. BOLD (3-0) 36 8
6. Wabasso (2-1) 22 T10
(tie) Polk County West (3-0) 22 T10
8. Mayer Lutheran (3-0) 18 NR
9. Dawson-Boyd (3-0) 13 NR
10. Murray County Central (3-0) 11 NR
(tie)Parkers Prairie (3-0) 11 NR
Others receiving votes: Pine River-Backus 8, Adrian 4, Goodhue 4, Walker-Hackensack-Akeley 3, Hayfield 1, Hinckley-Finlayson 1, Sleepy Eye St. Mary's 1, Fillmore Central 1.

School Total Points Prv
1. Grand Meadow (6) (3-0) 60 1
2. Spring Grove (3-0) 53 2
3. Cleveland (2-1) 46 3
4. Waubun (3-0) 42 4
5. Edgerton Ellsworth (3-0) 30 6
(tie) Ely (3-0) 30 5
7. Mountain Iron-Buhl (4-0) 20 8
8. Nevis (3-0) 17 9
9. Ada-Borup (3-0) 8 NR
10. Wheaton-Herman-Norcross (3-0) 7 NR
Others receiving votes: Cromwell 5, Silver Bay 4, Mountain Lake Area 3, Verndale 2, North Woods 1, Hills-Beaver Creek 1, Lanesboro 1.
Washburn Girls Soccer: A Midseason Lesson9/20/2016
The season didn’t come tumbling down for the Minneapolis Washburn girls soccer team Monday night. Yes, the Millers suffered their first loss of the season in a 5-2 decision at Eagan, the two-time defending state champions in Class 2A, but it was a learning experience and there is plenty of season yet to be played.

Molly Busch had three goals and Carly Czaplewski scored twice for Eagan (6-2-1), which is ranked eighth in 2A. Washburn got goals from Kaitlyn Villars and Niki Ryan, but coming back from a 3-0 first-half deficit wasn’t in the cards for the Millers (7-1-1), who are ranked second in 2A behind Wayzata.

“Part of it is, as I was telling the girls, it’s good that it’s midseason, it’s non-conference, it’s non-section to get something like this,” said Washburn co-coach Reuben Ndely. “This will prepare us for the future.”

Washburn is known as a strong soccer school. The girls were Class 1A state runners-up in 2014 and the Millers boys reached the Class 2A state semifinals last season. The girls also now play in Class 2A, and Monday’s game against Eagan was typical of the competition in 2A.

A year ago, Washburn was one of only two teams to defeat Eagan; the Millers trailed 1-0 before rallying to win 4-1. That fact gave the Millers a dose of confidence going into Monday’s rematch.

“We probably expected a win coming into this game,” said Ryan. “Last year we won 4-1 and it was a big deal, we were really excited because they won state. We probably came in a little too cocky, but once the first half happened we got our heads straight.”

Eagan coach Turk Ozturk said that based on last season’s match with the Millers, he knew Monday’s contest would be tough.

“I think they’re a very good team and they’re very well-coached. They have a lot of skill, they have very smart players, they can attack and they can score on anyone in the state. We had to make adjustments and play more of a defensive game and look for more of a counter-attack approach.

“This is a great win, this is a big win for us.”

Ndely and co-coach Cheryl Peterson have been at Washburn for nearly a decade, and the girls soccer program has made great strides not only in success but in depth.

“We barely had two teams (in the first year),” Peterson said. “We had a varsity and a JV and some girls had to play both. It’s really grown. It speaks to the community and the strength of the school. We added one team the next year and then a fourth team two or three years later. We’ve had a lot of good soccer players, a lot of good student-athletes, a great community.”

The move from Class 1A to 2A, based on enrollment, hasn’t changed the way the Millers approach a full season or a single game. Having been in the top echelon of 1A before moving to 2A was a good jumping-off point.

“2A soccer is more competitive,” Ndely said. “But the teams that are strong in 1A, those teams can definitely play in 2A.”

Millers junior Charlotte DeVaughn said the team focuses more on playing their best rather than who they’re facing.

“We play our game, no matter who we’re playing,” she said. “I think it’s important for us to come out strong no matter the opponent. I think we’re going to bounce back from this. We’re going to learn. Like our coach said, it was important to have this game early on so we could learn and grow from this.”

--To see a photo gallery from the game, go to the MSHSL Facebook page.

*Schools/teams John has seen/visited: 59
*Miles John has driven in the Toyota Camry in 2016-17: 1,947
Girls Tennis Rankings9/19/2016
This week's girls tennis rankings, provided to the MSHSL by the tennis coaches association.

1 Blake
2 Breck
3 Rochester Lourdes
4 St. James
5 Foley
6 Holy Family Catholic
7 Minnewaska
8 Virginia
9 Litchfield
10 Pine City

1 Libby Rickeman. Blake
2 Izabella Edin, Staples-Motley
3 Arlina Shen, Blake
4 Katie Mulvey, Trinity at River Ridge
5 Cindy Li, Winona Cotter
6 Clare Palen, Rochester Lourdes
7 Natalie Cahill, Pine City
8 Lainey Axell, Blake
9 Cora Delich, Eveleth-Gilbert
tie 10 Ashley Frederickson, St. James
tie 10 Kayla McIver, Foley

1 St. Cloud Tech
2 Edina
3 Prior Lake
4 Eagan
5 Mahtomedi
6 Hopkins
7 Minnetonka
8 Delano
9 Mounds View
tie 10 Eastview
tie 10 Wayzata

1 Isabella Lambert, Minnetonka
2 Meagan Brown, Elk River
3 Sophie Reddy, Edina
4 Natalie Lorentz, St. Louis Park
5 Maddie Suk, Hopkins
6 Karin Young, Eastview
7 Savanna Crowell, Prior Lake
8 Alexandra Kopiecki, Mounds View
9 Taylor Tarrolly, St. Cloud Tech
tie 10 Samantha Nichols, Eagan
tie 10 Zoe Klass Warch, St. Paul Central