John's Journal
Hermantown And Proctor: A Great Display Of Sportsmanship5/13/2013
Here's an email that describes one of the many behind-the-scenes tales that says a lot about the lessons learned through high school activities....

John,

I wanted to pass this along to you. My name is Nathan Johnson and I am a teacher/coach and newspaper adviser at Proctor High School. I get the Bulletin from the league and enjoy reading the letters on displays of sportsmanship.

I wanted to share an example that happened to the team that I help coach. Proctor attended the True Team Section Track meet in Chisago Lakes. The weather was great and the meet was wonderful. On the way down one of our two buses broke down. We only had one bus to try and take everyone home.

We have five coaches and had taken about 70 athletes to the meet. Needless to say we weren't going to fit everyone on one bus for the drive home. I approached the coaches from Hermantown to see if they had any room on their bus.

Hermantown and Proctor High School are close (less than 10 miles apart). We have a BIG rivalry with Hermantown. One of the highlights of our school year is the football game where the winning team takes home the "Hammer." Last year approximately 2,500 to 3,000 fans showed up for the game and it was televised on local TV. This is a wonderful rivalry that also extends to other sports.

When I asked if Hermantown had room, they offered to help out in any way. We ended up sending some of our athletes home with them. Hermantown coaches and bus drivers were awesome. They displayed a great deal of sportsmanship. They also were able to teach BOTH of our teams that rivalries don't have to always be competitive. We can help each other out, as well. I believe that this episode shows why sports and extra curricula are vital to our students.

Hermantown displayed the best of the values we all try to teach our athletes.

Nathan P. Johnson
Social Studies/English Teacher
Mallet Adviser
Assistant Football/Track Coach
Proctor High School
In Their Own Words: Surviving A Rotten Spring5/10/2013
A few days ago I invited people to share their thoughts about the spring that never wanted to be sprung. These recent weeks have certainly been a challenge, with games postponed and cancelled all over the state during bad weather … and a rush to reschedule contests as the weather improved.

Some people don’t realize all that goes into holding high school sporting events and other activities. From buses to ticket takers to concession workers to game officials and beyond, the logistics can be daunting even during the best weather conditions.

Here are some interesting perspectives from the viewpoint of administrators, coaches and officials…

A Balancing Act

The biggest issue, at least for me, is the abundance of doubleheaders that now are being played. We as spring officials understand that the weather will force game changes and such and have become used to this. However, this spring has been extremely difficult. When you work a regular job and then officiate you end up usually taking some time off work in order to get to games on time. With the number of doubleheaders now it makes it difficult as leaving now earlier than planned and more often. We are really trying to balance our careers with our love of umpiring as well.
--Michael Stokes, umpire

Staying Positive

We have had six meets cancelled. Finding a meet or meets is now becoming scarce or difficult. We had to get our track teams in for the Lakeville North meet scheduled for May 20; those schools are probably 10 times bigger than ours but we have to get our girls and boys prepared in time for subsection and section.

This is by far the worst spring I have seen as a former student here at Minnesota State Academy for the Deaf and as AD in my 30 years. I have asked my track coaches to stay positive with our girls and boys. They were very creative in making their practices more enjoyable. If they practice in our gym, they would set up some kind of games that requires a lot of running. Just to get them motivated for the practices.
--Davey Olson, Athletic Director, Minnesota State Academy for the Deaf

Lulled To Sleep

As an AD I found myself getting lulled to sleep because nearly every day for awhile there was not a chance of playing, so I'd contact my fellow ADs and postpone the games without too much thought to other details such as game site workers, field prep, concessions, etc. Then when we had a stretch of good weather I found myself doing double time to make sure all areas were covered so that we could indeed play. I'll be happy to be back in that stressed mode again!

As a coach I've had to concede that we won't be able to get the quality practice time that I like, since we'll be cramming in a lot of games. But the kids signed up to play ball so when we have a good day I think it is important to give them the game experience that they enjoy.
--Scott McCready, Athletic Director/Head Baseball Coach, St. Charles High School

Amazing Resilience

Twenty years ... the worst I've seen. The amazing thing to me is the resilience of our kids and coaches, AND the patience of our support team (administrative assistants, busing personnel, building secretaries, etc.). Years from now we'll look back and say we survived the Spring of 2013! Lucky '13? ... I'd say NO!
--Ray Kirch, Athletic Director, Osseo High School
Wait, Wait, Wait … OK, Stillwater Ponies, It’s Time To Play!5/8/2013
Imagine this scenario: It’s your senior year, your team is the defending state champion and you absolutely cannot wait to get back on the field and start a new season … and then the weather stops you in your tracks. Cold.

For the softball team at Stillwater High School, that is not a scenario. It is reality. The Ponies won the Class 3A state championship a year ago, lost only three senior starters from that team and were all charged up for 2013. And we know what happened. Snow. Ice. Rain. Games cancelled, schedules disrupted, a season put on hold.

“I wish we could have a re-do,” said senior Hannah Heacox, who threw a no-hitter in last year’s state quarterfinals and was the winning pitcher in all three games at state. “We just deal with what we’re given, I guess.”

Before sunshine and warmer temperatures arrived this week, Stillwater had seen 16 softball dates wiped out by the weather. But the Ponies have saddled up and returned to action in a big way, with games scheduled every day this week. On Monday they beat Woodbury 9-4 in the first game of a doubleheader and Woodbury won the second game 2-0. The Ponies defeated Cretin-Derham Hall 3-0 Tuesday (giving them a record of 7-2) and will meet East Ridge on Wednesday, Forest Lake on Thursday and Cretin-Derham Hall again on Friday.

“As long as we keep good weather, we’ll try to get in as many games as we can,” coach Bob Beedle said. (Pictured are Beedle and Heacox.)

There is indeed a mad dash – in all spring sports -- to play a full schedule of games before the postseason begins. Softball teams can play 20 regular-season games, and getting them all in could be an issue. For Stillwater, the Section 4 tournament will begin on May 20.

“I think this week will probably be the hardest week. It’s every day,” said Ponies senior infielder Haley Balzart. “After this week I’m probably going to be a little tired.”

Playing so many games in such a short time frame means playing doubleheaders, which is not usually the case. Beedle said the players need to maintain their focus in those situations.

“There’s a real mental adjustment they have to make,” he said. “Whether you win or lose the first game, it’s uncommen for them to have to play a second game.”

Heacox said, “It can be like, ‘Oh, we’re done … wait, we have another game to play.’ But I feel like it’s better to get more reps, and being outside helps us so much and just keeps us motivated, not being in the gym.”

Ah yes, the gym. That’s where most spring athletes all over Minnesota have spent day after day. Waiting for the weather to improve, coaches and athletes worked on skills while also trying to inject some fun and avoid boredom. The Ponies did a lot of games and team-bonding activities, and also enjoyed days away from the game.

“We did give kids a day off once in a while,” Beedle said. “I think if you’re pushing too hard, there’s a point of no return in terms of what you’re going to get out of them.

“I think the kids have been real resilient. The first time we got outside we saw a lot of anxiousness and maybe trying to do a little bit more than they needed to do.”

If the weather continues to cooperate, spring teams will be grateful. Even if it means playing a large number of games in a short amount of time.

“We’ll have eight softball games this week and six baseball games this week,” said Stillwater activities director Ricky Michel. “And the funny thing is, if we get this whole week in, then it’s not so bad. We’re getting there.”

--To see a photo gallery from Monday’s Woodbury-Stillwater softball doubleheader, go to the MSHSL Facebook page.

BY THE NUMBERS

*Schools/teams John has visited: 624
*Miles John has driven in the Toyota Camry: 8,662
(*During the 2012-13 school year)
Follow John on Twitter: @MSHSLjohn
Service Before Self -- Captains Band Together for Their Country5/7/2013
This wonderful story is courtesy of Apple Valley High School...

The 2012-13 Boys Swim and Dive season has come and gone. This year's varsity roster had six seniors and for most of them, their time together on a "team" was completed when the season came to a close. However, for captains Seth Berry, Jackson Scholberg, and Ryan Sentz, their time together as members of a team will continue beyond school. No, they have not selected the same college to attend. Instead, they all joined the National Guard as a means to serve their communities and their country. During the first weekend in May, the young men were at Camp Ripley for training. Each of the boys has given a brief synopsis of why they chose the National Guard:

--Scholberg: "I joined the Army National Guard because it seemed the best way to give back to my community, a way to better myself as a person, and a good way to pay for college. Initially, I knew I wanted to go to college, but when looking at careers, there weren’t many choices that sounded exciting. The military was one of the few areas that sounded interesting. Serving part time in the Army National Guard allows me to be in the military while attending college full time. I plan to go to Iowa State and enroll in the ROTC program to become an officer upon graduation. I will major in computer science with a minor in music technology ” Jackson leaves for Fort Sill, Oklahoma for his basic training on June 11 and will start at Iowa State in the fall. (Pictured are Berry, Scholberg, and Sentz at Camp Ripley.)

--Sentz: “I joined the National Guard because I felt it was the right thing for me. I’m proud to be an American and wanted to serve my country.” Ryan will be attending Basic Training at Fort Jackson in Columbia, South Carolina this summer and advance training at Fort Sam Houston in San Antonio, Texas in summer 2014. At the end of his advanced training Ryan will be a Combat Medic. This fall, Ryan plans to attend North Dakota State University where he will study mechanical engineering.

--Berry: “I knew in my heart it was the right thing to do and I wanted to serve my country. The National Guard will help me with leadership and team building skills. I was already accepted to the University of Wisconsin, River Falls when I made my decision to join the National Guard. With already having 1 semester of college credits from attending PSEO, I have chosen to defer my college for one semester so I can do both my Basic Training and AIT training back to back. I will start college Spring of 2014 and study Health & Human Performance." Seth will leave for Fort Sill, Oklahoma on June 24th and then head to Fort Lee, Virginia September 10th.

While attending college, the young men will also serve one weekend a month and two weeks per year as part of their service. Apple Valley High School is fortunate to have such great leaders walking the halls and our nation is lucky as well. On behalf of AVHS, thank you to Ryan, Seth, and Jackson for their service to this great nation.
Two All-Time State Track And Field Records Fall5/7/2013
Tuesday was a big day in high school track and field, with two all-time state records falling...

--St. Francis senior Maggie Ewen broke her own girls state discus record with a throw of 175 feet, 9 inches in the Class 3A Section 5 True Team meet at White Bear Lake. Her previous record was 172-7.

--Lakeville South senior Lee Bares broke the boys state record in the pole vault with a height of 15-9 in the 3A Section 1 meet at Lakeville North. The previous record was 15-8, set by Moorhead's Macauley Spandl in 2010.

Ewen's 175-9 discus throw ranks No. 2 in the nation among high schools girls this season (the best throw is 184-2). Bares' 15-9 pole vault ranks No. 33 nationally among boys this spring the (the leader is 17-8 1/2).