John's Journal
Preseason Rankings Arrive! Let The Season Begin! 8/11/2013
The first rankings of the 2013-14 school year are out, and congratulations to the state volleyball coaches association for being the first to email their rankings to me. This is a sure sign of the start of the fall season.

There are no surprises atop the three-class preseason volleyball rankings. Lakeville North (Class 3A), Marshall (2A) and Bethlehem Academy (1A) won state championships last season and they all stand at No. 1 in their classes as the 2013 season gets rolling.

To see the complete volleyball rankings in all three classes, check out the MSHSL Facebook page. Rankings in the other fall sports will also pop up on our Facebook pages as I receive them.

Let’s have a great year!
My Monday Plans Have Been Made: Heading To Cannon Falls8/7/2013
The Big Day is almost here, and by the Big Day I mean Monday, Aug. 12; the first date on the calendar that fall sports will swing into action across Minnesota. (Twenty-two football teams that will play Zero Week games began practice this past Monday.)

Monday will be loaded with action: girls and boys soccer, volleyball, boys and girls cross-country, girls tennis, girls swimming and diving and football all will kick off the 2013-14 year. A few days ago I put out the call here on John’s Journal for great story ideas on the Big Day. Without giving away too much right now … I will be at Cannon Falls High School on Monday, focusing on a couple of very special stories and hopefully spending time with every one of the Bombers’ fall sports teams and cheerleaders.

I received a great many emails with recommendations for me, and thanks to everyone who told me about their school and their stories. Here’s an assignment for everyone that will continue throughout the school year: Let me know what’s happening at your school and in your community. I’m always on the lookout for John’s Journal stories, and your input is always valuable.

I can’t wait to get going.


*Schools/teams John has visited: 0
*Miles John has driven in the Toyota Camry: 0
(*During the 2013-14 school year)
Follow John onTwitter: @MSHSLjohn
I Want To Visit Your School … Tell Me Why I Should8/1/2013
I’m ready to make plans for the day that will be the big kickoff to the 2013-14 year in MSHSL activities. Monday, Aug. 12, will mark the first official day of practice for fall sports teams ( 22 football teams that have scheduled Zero Week games will start on Aug. 5). The other fall sports are soccer, volleyball, cross-country, girls tennis and girls swimming and diving.

I’m hoping to spend Aug. 12 at one school – large or small, metro or outstate – that has great stories across a range of fall sports. It might be a school that had great success in fall sports last year … it might be a school that is expecting great success this fall … it might be a school that is fielding a varsity team(s) for the first time … it might be a school with fall coaches and/or athletes who have done great things on and/or off the field. If you think your school would be a good spot for me to visit, let me know.

A year ago, I spent the first day of fall practice in a new school district; Tri-City United brought together students from the formerly separate districts of Montgomery-Lonsdale and Le Center. I spent time with the football, volleyball, cross-country and girls tennis teams at Tri-City United, posting photos on the MSHSL Facebook page and writing a story for John’s Journal.

So here’s your chance: tell me why your school is special this fall. Send me an email; the address is Or if Twitter (as well as brevity) is your thing, fire a Tweet to @MSHSLjohn.
‘Why We Play’ Conferences Provide Opportunities For Coaches 7/30/2013
Minnesota high school coaches will have a rare chance to come together, learn and share information about what really matters in their profession, and I’m not talking about what the scoreboard says when the final horn blows.

A series of conferences called “Why We Play” will be held this week at two sites, sponsored by the MSHSL, the Minnesota State High School Coaches Association and the Minnesota Interscholastic Athletic Administrators Association. Nearly 700 coaches have registered. The conference will be presented twice this Thursday, Aug. 1, at Bethel University in St. Paul. The first session will begin at 8:15 a.m. and the second session will start at 3:15 p.m. A third session will be held Aug. 7 at Grand Rapids High School, beginning at 9 a.m.

“Coaches have limitless opportunities to provide students with meaningful, life-changing experiences,” said MSHSL associate director Jody Redman, who is the Why We Play coordinator. “This can only happen if coaches establish a clear coaching purpose and are intentional about providing students with more than physical skill development. They need to be aware that positive responses to student-athletes mistakes have a decided impact, they need to define their success by more than the outcome on the scoreboard, and they must become fully aware of the reasons why they coach the way they do.”

The format of the conferences includes guest speakers and small break-out sessions to explore ways to become purposeful coaches. Speakers include:

--Dr. Jeff Duke, an expert on the cultural influence of the coaching profession in our society. He has developed and authored the “3Dimensional Pyramid of Coaching Success” concept that has revolutionized the coaching landscape. He is a professor in the College of Education and Human Performance at the University of Central Florida in Orlando. He will speak at the two Bethel University conferences about “Success as Coached Through the Lens of Joy.”

--Mark Hull, the Wisconsin state director for Fellowship of Christian Athletes and presenter for the FCA Coaches Academy and Three Dimensional Coaching, will speak at the Grand Rapids conference. He will open that conference with “Success: From Great to Good.”

--The co-founders of St. Paul-based Top 20 Training, Tom Cody and Willow Sweeney, will conduct multiple sessions at all three conferences. Since 2000, Top 20 Training has been empowering youth and adults to make a positive difference in the quality of their lives, relationships and experiences. They have trained more than 200,000 teachers and coaches nationwide. Cody and Sweeney will address “The Line: How Our Inner Life Determines Our Experience” and “Learning from Mistakes: Moving Outside Our Comfort Zone.”

Faculty members of the MSHSL’s Head Coaches Course -- who are athletics and activities directors of member schools -- will facilitate small-group breakout sessions.

Redman said, “These conferences are a tremendous opportunity for the League and our co-sponsors to reach a very important audience — coaches — with some exciting and innovative information that has the potential to change lives — their own and that of their student-athletes.”
Looking Ahead to Zero Week Football Games7/21/2013
Happy summer, everybody! I’m still taking some vacation time, but I’ve been looking ahead to the start of the fall sports season.

First on tap will be 11 Zero Week football games on Aug. 23; the 22 teams involved will begin practice one week before the rest of the state’s football teams and all other fall sports teams.

The Zero Week football teams will open practice on Aug. 5. All other fall teams will get going on Aug. 12

Here’s the Aug. 23 Zero Week game schedule …

Chatfield at Caledonia, 7 p.m.
Edina at Holy Angels, 7 p.m.
Hayfield at Goodhue, 7 p.m.
Hopkins at Chaska, 7 p.m.
Hudson, Wis., at Minnetonka, 7 p.m.
Jackson County Central at St. Louis Park, 7 p.m.
Kingsland at Wabasha-Kellogg, 7 p.m.
New Ulm at Luverne, 7 p.m.
Pipestone at St. James, 7 p.m.
Rushford-Peterson at Southland, 7 p.m.
Spectrum vs. St. Agnes at Concordia University, St. Paul, 7:30 p.m.