John's Journal
Student Media Day With The Twins: Given a Chance9/26/2012
(This article was written by one of the high school students who attended a Minnesota Twins game through the MSHSL Student Media program. Four students received media credentials for the Twins-White Sox game on Sept. 15 at Target Field.)

By Jared Rubado
Brainerd High School

When an MLB manager calls a person into his office, the outcome is 50/50. The player never knows the outcome, but he knows that he will be given a chance. The person could get the chance to impress the manager on the field, the chance to play for a different team, or even get second chances. It’s safe to say that you don't know what to expect when you walk through those doors. There were four of us, and from the beginning we knew exactly what we were getting into. We were given a chance. The chance of a lifetime.

My name is Jared Rubado, I am a junior at Brainerd High School. I am a part of the MSHSL Student Media program. My goal in life is to be a sports journalist for a website such as Grantland (ESPN), or a magazine such as Sports Illustrated. John Millea, our Student Media coordinator, set up an opportunity for four Student Media reporters to go to a Minnesota Twins baseball game. I was interested from the beginning, along with three other students across the state. In an email, John told us, “We will be on the field before the game, in the press box during the game and will observe postgame media interviews.” That alone would have been an amazing experience. Little did I know that I was in for way more.

I have been a Twins fan my whole life. I make the most out of every game I go to. I get to the game hours before the first pitch, just to get a glimpse of the pregame warmups. I have always seen kids get the chance to walk on the field themselves. I have envied them for years. When I got the news that I had been accepted for the Student Media day at Target Field, it was a dream come true. The Twins would be playing the Chicago White Sox on Sept. 15 at 12:10 in the afternoon.

I walked into the Target Field plaza at 9:45. The day was scheduled to start at 10 a.m. I met the other aspiring journalists and John at Gate 29. We waited 15 minutes until Chris Iles from the Twins corporate communications department (also our guide for the day), gave us our credentials. We left our parents behind with two free tickets to the game. As we walked in, our day had officially started.

Our first stop was the Twins clubhouse and we were escorted inside to the center of the players’ locker room. I personally had never seen a locker room so nice in my 16-year existence. We were allowed to have a private pregame interview with Twins manager Ron Gardenhire before the professional media came in. We asked our questions and listened to him talk about many different things. He talked about, baseball, college football and how he spends his off days. The most interesting thing was when he told us that if he had not gone into baseball, he would have gone into the military.

When the media came in, it was a bit daunting. They were nice, but they were there to do business. Their serious presence was overwhelmingly exciting for me, knowing that they get to do this on a day-to-day basis. It was then and there that I knew for sure that I was going to pursue a journalism career.

After the pregame interview, we went to lunch. We were introduced to the Fox Sports North crew. They were very relaxed, especially Bert Blyleven. He was cracking jokes left and right. We ate our lunches and then we were escorted onto the field. We couldn't go on the grass but we were allowed to observe from the backstop. When I looked into a fan’s eyes, I saw a bit of jealousy, I could only picture that’s what I have looked like when I looked at other field-goers from the stands.

It was time to take our seats in the press box. I have never seen such a perfect view of a sporting event in my life. We were seated on the far right of the press box. When I turned my head for the first time, I saw everybody that we had met during the day. The game started and I had never felt so comfortable at a Twins game before. The main rule of the press box is you are not allowed to cheer. I thought that would be difficult for me because I always cheer enthusiastically, but it wasn’t.

We watched for the first inning, but during the second inning we had a surprise. We were taken into the radio booth for the top half of the inning. Cory Provus was broadcasting the game and then, out of nowhere, he said our names on the radio. For the bottom half of the inning we were given the chance to talk to Terry Ryan, the Twins general manager. During games he carries a stopwatch to time various things such as delivery of the pitcher or the speed of baserunners. He explained, “In these last few weeks of a season, some players may be fighting for a spot on next year’s team.”

We returned to our seats in the press box for the rest of the game. The Twins were shut down by former Twins pitcher Francisco Liriano. They were down 4-0 until the seventh inning when Trevor Plouffe hit a two-run home run. The Twins were down 5-2 in the ninth inning. They got the bases loaded but were only able to get one run.

For our last event for the day, it was back to Gardy’s office for the postgame interview. We observed the reporters ask their questions once again. Then all of them filed out and we were alone with the manager for the last time. At that moment we didn’t know what he was going to say, but we know it had to do with chance.
Student Media Day With The Twins: We Will Never Forget9/25/2012
(These two articles were written by high school students who attended a Minnesota Twins game through the MSHSL Student Media program. The photos were taken by Zach Burnside.)

By JoNathan Chartrand
Chisago Lakes Area High School

On Saturday, Sept. 15 I joined the MSHSL's John Millea and three other student journalists who arrived early in the morning for a media day at Target Field in Minneapolis. After a quick get to know you, I was admitted with a full media credential into Gate 29.

From the gate we rode the elevator down to the belly of the beast. We first went to the Twins clubhouse and looked around; Kent Hrbek was chatting up a few current players. Then we got to interview skipper Ron Gardenhire. After the interview we watched the beat writers interview Gardy at his desk, more informal than I thought it would be.

Then we went from the clubhouse to the cafeteria, where we were fed a variety of items from bacon to salad to yogurt. As we were eating and watching College Gameday on ESPN, we all gathered for a picture, but sneaky Hall of Fame pitcher and Fox Sports North announcer Bert Blyleven added to the mix. He welcomed us with, “Good morning.” We then introduced ourselves. As we finished up eating, our guide informed us that a picture of us with Gardy was on the Twins Twitter account. Everyone quickly pulled out their phones to look.

We then traveled out on to the field for a more perspective view of it all; so large, from the stands it doesn’t seem so far, but from the plate to no-man's land in center field or the Jim Thome region of deep in the stands of left field it was breathtaking.

As the game was about to begin, we were escorted up to the press box to watch the game, but that wasn't the case. We watched the first inning, taking notes and pictures, but as the second inning rolled around we were once again on the move going into the Twins Radio Network booth, where Dan Gladden handed me his headset and I was hooked up to radio, LIVE. Cory Provus announced our presence in the booth to all the listeners and explained who we were and why we were there.

As the top of the inning wrapped up we traveled a long ways (three steps) into the Twins general manager's booth for an interview with Terry Ryan. We asked him about putting Joe Mauer on waivers. He responded with a no comment to the “top secret” status but said not to worry about his status as a Twin.

After returning to the press box to watch the rest of the game, we were the subject of many more pictures taken by John Millea. The Twins lost and we headed back to the clubhouse for Gardy’s post-game interview session; we didn’t get to ask questions this time, just observe. This activity closed out the day at the stadium for us. All four of us -- Jared, Zach, Nick and myself -- will never forget this day.


Gardenhire And Guillen Talk About ‘Spam’

By Zach Burnside
White Bear Lake High School

Before the game, Twins manager Ron Gardenhire was asked if he missed coaching against former White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen.

"Ozzie and I still talk on the phone and text each other about whatever,” Gardenhire said. “He can't speak English very well, and he definitely can't spell. I got a text a couple months ago and Ozzie said ‘What would you want for Spam’(Guillen was referring to Twins outfielder Denard Span).”

Francisco Liriano, the White Sox starting pitcher and former member of the Twins, allowed just a couple walks and no hits through the first six innings. Trevor Plouffe made a defensive gem to record the second out in the top of the seventh inning, and then when he came up to the plate in the bottom of the inning he smacked the first pitch he saw over the fence for a two-run homer to put the Twins on the board.

The Twins mounted the start of a rally in the bottom of the ninth, started by that guy Guillen wanted, “Spam.” The rally came to an end early, however, and the Twins fell to the White Sox 5-3.
Student Media Day With The Twins: An Unforgettable Experience9/23/2012
(This article was written by one of the high school students who attended a Minnesota Twins game through the MSHSL Student Media program. Four students received media credentials for the Twins-White Sox game on Sept. 15 at Target Field.)

By Nick Wagner
Ada-Borup High School

It is difficult to translate Saturday's MSHSL Student Media day with the Minnesota Twins into a story of finite words. Then again, the exact same program and its leader, John Millea, have taught its members how to put any unexplainable experience into words.

First off, many thanks are owed to John Millea, the MSHSL's media specialist who not only made the media day happen but started the growing Student Media program. John honored three others from the program with credentials: JoNathan Chartrand of Chisago Lakes, Zach Burnside of White Bear Lake and Jared Rubado of Brainerd.

Then there's Twins corporate communications manager Chris Isles. Chris worked closely with John and Twins corporate staff to make the day an obligated story to “tell the grandkids.”

Then again, who would give up the opportunity to share stories the day produced: a private meeting with Twins manager Ron Gardenhire, meeting and shaking hands with Hall of Fame pitcher Bert Blyleven, a tour of the Twins clubhouse among players and a photographer's credential to position a person as close to the action as it gets.

I was fortunate enough to be able to shoot alongside team photographer Bruce Kluckhohn. Bruce went to Harvard. Yes, Harvard. How he ended up shooting for the Twins, Minnesota Wild and numerous top-shelf magazines still has me wondering if such an extraordinary career path could be duplicated. If so, sign me up!

It is not just the knowledge of creating a great photo that would land a job Bruce has, but also I think it is the little things done behind the scenes that sets one apart in the photographic field. Simply take into account Bruce's willingness to allow a 17-year-old to follow him around like a lost dog for a three-hour game.

Hanging around Bruce gave me the opportunity to shoot only where Twins photographers can: the photo well connected to the Twins dugout, which places a person and their camera an arm’s length away from the big leaguers. It was as sweet as the Double Bubble bubble gum the players chewed. I even got to be a part of pre-game rituals: knuckle touching with Twins infielder Jamey Carroll and shaking hands with first base coach Jerry White.

Reflecting back on the myriad nuances of the day John, Chris, Bruce and the Twins pleasured our program with will not soon be forgotten, nor will it ever. When I find myself applying for a job, I will be able to mark down this experience, and when I do, all the memories from the day will flourish; now time will only tell whether or not Harvard will have a place under the application's “Education” section.
Sportsmanship Is Important Focus In Suburban East Conference9/20/2012
The students walked into Cretin-Derham Hall High School in St. Paul on a sunny morning. They came from the 10 schools in the Suburban East Conference – 10 or 12 students from each school -- and their morning consisted of getting to know each other, to understand each other and have fun with each other.

If their morning pays off, attendees at Suburban East athletic events will go home with this thought: Wow, those students in the stands were great!

The SEC Sportsmanship Summit, which has been held for several years, brings together the so-called Super Fans along with team captains and cheerleaders from each school in the Suburban East: Cretin-Derham Hall, East Ridge, Forest Lake, Hastings, Mounds View, Park, Roseville, Stillwater, White Bear Lake and Woodbury. These are the students who lead their fellow students in chanting and cheering during games of all kinds; indoors, outdoors, on the field, on the ice, on the court.

The summit is a model for other conferences around the state and a discussion topic when Minnesota athletic directors gather. It’s a very good thing and more conferences should do this.

“I’m going to boast a little bit and say that I think we have the absolute best conference, not only in the metro but in the entire state,” Park athletic director Phil Kuemmel told the group. “And what we’re doing today is one of the reasons why I think we have the best conference in the entire state. It’s not just because we have good teams, but again I’m going to boast and say we have great ADs and administrators in this conference who want to do things like this to continually make things better.”

As the groups from each school arrived, each student was given a colored wrist band, corresponding to specific tables as a way to bring students from different schools together.

“You get to meet people who are just like you,” Forest Lake activities director Joel Olson said.

There was plenty of fun. The students played a game called “Giant, Wizard, Elf” which is much like “Rock, Paper, Scissors” but much more fun. There was a demonstration of a fan chant/dance called “Go Bananas!”

The meeting was led by MSHSL associate director Jody Redman and Cretin-Derham Hall faculty member Tom Cody, who also works with an organization called Top 20 Training. Redman and Cody guided wide-ranging discussions, all focused on helping the students understand how important their role is and how they can make a positive difference.

They talked about sportsmanship and treating people with respect …

--Just because a fan pays to attend a sporting event, they don’t have the right to act badly.

--Fans should focus on what they can control, including their behavior. They cannot control things like officials’ calls and players’ abilities.

Cody laughed about the common practice of students holding up newspapers as a way to ignore the introduction of the opposing team’s starting lineup.

“That’s so 1940s. Your grandma did that,” he told the students. “Let’s get clever if we’re going to be funny.”

The students learned about “mob think,” which is when people feel empowered when they are part of a large group. He used the example of a snowman on someone’s lawn; if one student walks past nothing will happen, but if a group of students walks past, that snowman is likely to be destroyed.

The students discussed behavior that goes over the line … and where that line is. Any kind of harassment clearly is over the line, but what about specific chants? This type of discussion gave the students things to think about when they are leading their fellow students in the stands.

“This is about being dignified and competitive,” Cody said.

As the meeting was winding down, the students realized that they are all alike even though they live in different areas, attend different schools and have different friends.

The meeting ended with students standing up and talking about what they had learned. Their comments included …

--“I met so many great people today.”

--“Everybody is really nice; we are opposing teams but we really welcome each other.”

--“This is our conference and we can do this together.”

At that point, pizza was delivered and a whole bunch of friends – old and new – sat together, talked and laughed.

BY THE NUMBERS
*Schools/teams John has visited: 90
*Miles John has driven: 1,922
(*During the 2012-13 school year)

--Join the MSHSL on Facebook by clicking on the Facebook button on the right side of www.mshsl.org. John Millea is on Twitter @MSHSLjohn