John's Journal
Before Joe Mauer: His Mother Was An Outstanding Athlete, Too2/27/2012
If Joe Mauer believes in genetics, he thanks his lucky stars for his mom. That’s because the all-star catcher for the Minnesota Twins is not the first member of his household to achieve athletic fame. In fact, his mother was one of the pioneers of girls high school sports in Minnesota.

Teresa Tierney (now Teresa Mauer) was a co-captain of the St. Paul Central girls basketball team that was the champion of one of the first winter state tournaments in 1976. After holding a fall tourney in 1974 and a one-class winter tourney in 1975, the MSHSL went to a two-class format in 1976, with St. Paul Central winning Class 2A and Redwood Falls capturing the 1A title.

Teresa Mauer was a letter winner in basketball, volleyball and track who graduated from Central in 1976. She says she doesn’t feel like a pioneer, because she grew up as an athlete … even if high school sports for girls were new at the time.

“I grew up thinking (being involved in athletics) was normal,” she said. “I’ve talked to other ladies and they say, ‘Gosh, I was born five years or 10 years too early.’ ”

Teresa Tierney (high school photo at right), the third-oldest of nine children, was encouraged by her parents to be active and have fun in what she now calls “our little sheltered world.” She attended St. Mark’s elementary school in St. Paul, where a teacher/coach named Joe Meyer made sure girls had opportunities

“He did everything,” Teresa said. “And the neat thing was, I didn’t even realize all this until I had gotten older and served on the board of the school. We had the Catholic Athletic Assocation, and if the boys had a team, the girls had a team.

“There was always something for the girls to play and I grew up thinking that was the norm. Joe Meyer was very forward-thinking. We had intramurals on Saturday, and the older kids taught it, coached and officiated. I just grew up playing sports. My mom said, ‘Go, have fun.’ ”

When Title IX was implemented in 1972, Mauer was a ninth-grader at Ramsey Junior High. The school had limited opportunities for girls sports, or as Mauer described the format, “We practiced for two or three weeks and then had play dates. We played everybody and we had punch and cookies. I thought, ‘We need a playoff, we need to find out who the best team is.’ ”

As a sophomore she began her career at St. Paul Central. That was the school’s first year of fielding a girls basketball team and the second year of girls track and volleyball. Mauer jumped right in.

“It was a great experience,” she said. “All the coaches and teachers embraced it, they wanted all the girls to succeed.”

On the first day of basketball practice, Mauer and her friends who had attended St. Mark’s quickly caught the attention of coach Steve Studer.

“He was amazed that some of us could dribble with either hand,” she said. “Joe Meyer had taught us to shoot with our left hand if were laying it up on the left side. I look back at it now, thinking how blessed I was to grow up in that kind of program.”

Lisa Lissimore, another member of Central’s 1976 championship team and now an MSHSL associate director, remembers Mauer as “one of the most well-rounded players.

“Teresa was an excellent defensive player on that end of the floor, and once she stole the ball from you she could run a great fast break,” Lissimore said. “She was quick, she could drive to the hole or shoot from the outside and she had great court sense, she knew where everyone was on the floor. She was very unselfish.”

The 1976 Central team played an up-tempo style of basketball … at least that’s what Mauer said she remembered before recently seeing video from the 1976 tournament.

“We were a running team. We had Lisa, Linda Roberts and Deb Krengel, who were great rebounders. Lisa and Rita Burch would run downcourt, I was passing it to them and it was ‘layup, bingo, here we go.’ I watch that video and I think, ‘Holy crap, we were slow.’ ”

Central defeated Benilde-St. Margaret’s 49-47 to win the state championship at Met Center. That victory gave Central a 17-3 record and erased the taste of their third defeat that season.

“We beat them by exactly the same score they had beaten us earlier in the season at a Christmas tournament,” said Mauer (pictured with son Joe). “I remember sitting in the locker room after that loss and thinking. ‘This season is in the dump.’ We went on a tear and I don’t think we lost a game after that.”

The girls state basketball tournament was new in 1976, as were sports for girls overall.

“Everything was so new but exciting with women’s sports,” Central coach Steve Studer said. “Getting to the tourney was a dream come true. … Walking into the Met Center with over 10,000 people was sure a surprise.

“I think we all might have been a wee bit in shock because of the newness. I know I turned down a radio interview because I was so nervous.”

Teresa Mauer said her favorite sport in high school was whatever sport she was playing at the time (Joe Mauer told me the same thing when he was at Cretin-Derham Hall High School). Before Central started a girls softball program, she tried out for the baseball team in the spring of her senior year.

“Track for me was an individual sport and I liked the team aspect,” she said. Mauer was cut during baseball tryouts “and I deserved it because I was awful. I ended up running track. The next year they started softball, so my younger sisters got to play softball but I never did.”

One of her younger sisters, Jean, was named Minnesota’s Miss Basketball in 1979, was an all-state basketball and volleyball player and was the first woman inducted into Creighton University’s sports Hall of Fame.

Mauer, who was inducted into the Central High School athletic Hall of Fame in 1997, attended The College of St. Catherine in St. Paul and was a member of the basketball and volleyball teams there. She also coached grade school and junior high teams as well as the junior varsity volleyball team at St. Bernard’s High School in St. Paul.

Her opportunities to coach grew limited with the birth of her three sons and their participation in athletics. “I remember having Joe with me at JV volleyball when he was little, running around the gym and chasing volleyballs,” she said.

Like her teammates, Mauer reflects on her high school career with pride. They not only did great things while representing their school, they also went on to lead successful lives.

“The thing I am most proud of,” said Studer, “is that all of our team went on to graduate from college and be truly productive citizens and parents working with young people.”

BY THE NUMBERS
*Schools/teams John has visited: 297
*Miles John has driven: 6,439

--Join the MSHSL on Facebook by clicking on the Facebook button on the right side of www.mshsl.org. John Millea is on Twitter at twitter.com/mshsljohn
Roseville Sneaks Past Northfield, Wins 2A Gymnastics Championship2/25/2012
Melrose Takes 1A Gymnastics Team Title; First Since 19952/25/2012
Championship Saturday: A Record Has Fallen2/25/2012
Hello from the press box at Xcel Energy Center, where the state champions of girls hockey will be decided today.

Warroad junior Lisa Marvin had a hat trick and an assist as the Warriors beat Red Wing 5-2 in the Class 1A third-place game. That gave her 34 points in state tournament games, breaking the record of 32 set by Roseville’s Ronda Curtin in 1999.

Chisago Lakes defeated New Ulm 4-0 to finish fifth in 1A.

Breck and South St. Paul are meeting in the 1A title game and in tonight's 2A championship game it will be Minnetonka vs. Roseville.

This is one of the busiest days of the prep sports year, with the state gymnastics meet taking place, individual wrestling section tournaments, boys hockey section tournaments, etc.

I'm Tweeting updates from the state tourneys and action around the state; follow MSHSLjohn on Twitter.

--Diet Coke Count: 0 for the day, 11 for the tournament, 11 for the winter tournaments.

BY THE NUMBERS
*Schools/teams John has visited: 297
*Miles John has driven: 6,439

--Join the MSHSL on Facebook by clicking on the Facebook button on the right side of www.mshsl.org. John Millea is on Twitter at twitter.com/mshsljohn
Winning And Losing … And Learning Important Lessons2/25/2012
The storylines were everywhere Saturday at Xcel Energy Center...

We saw history, with Breck and South St. Paul playing the first multiple-overtime championship game in girls hockey annals before Breck won the Class 1A title in the second overtime. It was the Mustangs’ first title in five trips to state and South St. Paul’s second consecutive runner-up finish.

We saw a big record fall. Warroad junior Lisa Marvin had a hat trick and an assist as the Warriors beat Red Wing 5-2 in the 1A third-place game. That gave her 34 points in state tournament games, breaking the record of 32 set by Roseville’s Ronda Curtin in 1999.

We saw the arrival of young stars in both the scoring and stopping categories. South St. Paul ninth-grade goaltender Sydney Conley was named to the all-tournament team after an astounding three-game run, and Breck can give credit for its victory Saturday to another pair of freshmen. Alexandra Wallin scored one goal for the Mustangs and classmate Leah Schwartzman scored the other two, including the gold-medal clincher at 10:55 of the second overtime.

But look a little deeper and listen a little harder, and you find messages that go beyond who won and who lost, beyond the color of the medals and the words on the trophies.

Let’s go back a day. South St. Paul defeated Warroad 4-2 in Friday’s semifinals. After the game had ended and the Packers had exited their locker room, I noticed what had been written on the white board in the locker room:

--“Nothing worth having is ever going to come easily.”

--“In life, we have to work hard for things we want.”

--“Today, don’t run from the challenge! Meet it head on!”

--“EMBRACE this moment.You will never get it back!”

I posted a photo of that white board on the MSHSL Facebook page Friday night, and the response was resounding. Comments were posted that included “I’m in!” and “Wonderful!”

The words on the board came from South St. Paul coach Dave Palmquist, who is one of the veterans in his business. Dave has been the Packers coach from the beginning, leading them to a state-record 12 state tournaments, winning four championships with three runner-up finishes.

He’s also the father of one of the players (daughter Abby is a sophomore) and he’s among the majority of our coaches – no matter the sport -- who absolutely get it, who understand what’s most important.

“I tip my hat to South St. Paul,” said Breck coach Chris Peterson. “Dave Palmquist, I’ve known him for years and he’s a fantastic coach and he runs a great program. It’s one of those games when you’re glad to be on the victorious side, but you also have to feel for them. They played a really, really good game and they’re a great hockey team. It’s just a shame to see kids in tears afterwards, tears of joy and tears of sadness.”

After the Packers left the ice following their heartbreaking defeat (Sydney Conley is pictured here), Palmquist told the media how he felt about his team.

“We fell a little short, but boy am I proud of them,” he said. “And this kid to my left, she’s an unbelievable player.”

Sitting to his left was senior Sam LaShomb, whose third-period goal sent the game into overtime. Her high school career has now ended without a state title. But in the midst of it all, she came to the interview room and talked about how it felt to come so close and finish second-best for the second year in a row.

“We told everyone to leave everything they had out there,” she said. “It was constantly, ‘Never give up. Never give up.’ And I don’t think we ever gave up.

“I feel like we worked too hard to get let down like this. We gave it everything we had and we couldn’t ask for anything else. If you could ask somebody to give more, we couldn’t.”

Friday’s victory over the two-time defending state champs from Warroad had taken the Packers to new heights. A year ago, the score in the championship game was a crushing blow: Warroad 5, South St. Paul 1. But finally, after Friday’s game, here was their chance to win a state title. And through regulation, overtime and into a second overtime Saturday, they gave it everything they could and did not win.

“Twenty-fours hours ago it was such a different feel,” Palmquist said. “We wanted this one so bad and we knew it was right there for us. The loss is one thing but you think about the relationships, the seniors that are going to be gone. That’s tough for the girls. Our kids are going to miss these seniors a lot.”

And then the coach’s words reflected some of those lessons and messages that had been written in the locker room a day earlier. Lessons about giving your all, doing your best, never backing down from a challenge … and what those lessons teach.

Before Dave and Abby Palmquist left their house Saturday morning, father and daughter talked about how fortunate they were. About how some teams never get to the state tournament even once, and here they were; Abby’s third trip to the big show.

“These kids can look back and say, ‘What an awesome time we had,’ " Dave said. "To play in two state title games back to back is a pretty special thing and I hope that these kids know that. As we said in the locker room, there are going to be other disappointments in life, and if this is as tough of one as they have, they’re going to be pretty fortunate.

“I know they’re hurt. I know we all hurt today. But they’ll be able to look back and know that they gave it everything they had. And that’s what they’re going to be asked out of life, just give it everything they have, every single day.”

MINNETONKA REPEATS AS CLASS 2A CHAMPION

Young players also played a key role in Minnetonka’s 3-0 victory over Roseville in Saturday night’s Class 2A championship game. Holly Korn scored in the first period and Diana Drayer got a goal in the third; both are sophomores. Junior Laura Bowman scored the final goal into an empty net as the game ended.

Minnetonka goaltender Sydney Rossman, a junior, stopped 23 shots as the Skippers repeated as state champs.

CONSOLATION BRACKET

--Chisago Lakes defeated New Ulm 4-0 to finish fifth in 1A.

--Edina held off Lakeville North 1-0 in the 2A third-place game.

--Roseau beat Mounds View 3-1 in the 2A fifth-place game.

HERB BROOKS AWARD

--Red Wing senior Cori Fairbanks, who was profiled here Friday, received the Class 1A Herb Brooks Award. According the Herb Brooks Foundation, the award “is to be given to the most qualified hockey player in the state tournament who strongly represents the values, characteristics, and traits that defined Herb Brooks.” Cori is pictured with Dan Brooks, Herb's son.

--In Class 2A, the award went to Sydney Helmbrecht of Grand Rapids/Greenway.

ALL-TOURNAMENT TEAMS

Class 1A: Jamie Dobosenki, Megan Lushanko, Chisago Lakes; Nicole Schammel, Paige Haley, Red Wing; Kayla Gardner, Lisa Marvin, Lynn Astrup, Warroad; Kate Schipper, Milica McMillen, Breck; Emily Reibert, Sam LaShomb, Sydney Conley, South St. Paul.

Class 2A: Alexis Joyce, Cassie Alexander, Dani Sadek, Lakeville North; Adelle Murphy, Hanna Brodt, Kate Flug, Lee Stecklein, Roseville; Amy Petersen, Laura Bowman, Sidney Morin, Sydney Baldwin, Sydney Rossman, Minnetonka.

--Photo galleries from the state hockey tournament can be seen on the MSHSL Facebook page.

--Diet Coke Count: 4 for the day, 15 for the tournament, 15 for the winter tournaments.

BY THE NUMBERS
*Schools/teams John has visited: 297
*Miles John has driven: 6,439

--Join the MSHSL on Facebook by clicking on the Facebook button on the right side of www.mshsl.org. John Millea is on Twitter at twitter.com/mshsljohn