John's Journal
Class 2A Girls Tennis Team Rankings9/4/2019
From the Minnesota Tennis Coaches Association.

1 Edina
2 Minnetonka
3 Mounds View
4 Rochester Mayo
5 Eastview
6 Lakeville South
7 Lakeville North
8 Elk River
9 Mahtomedi
10 Rochester Century
Class 2A Girls Tennis Individual Rankings9/4/2019
From the Minnesota Tennis Coaches Association.

1 Nicole Copeland (12) Edina
2 Karin Young (10) Eastview
3 Zoe Adkins (10) Maple Grove
4 Delaney Schurhamer (12) Woodbury
5 Nicole Snezhko (12) Robbinsdale Armstrong
6 Selah Stibbins (10) Washburn
7 Aili Hietala (11) Duluth East
8 Ashley Tarrolly (11) St. Cloud Tech
9 Nikki Ridenour (10) Roseville
10 Sarah Shabaz (9) Minnetonka
Boys Basketball Coaches Announce 2019 Hall of Fame Class 9/4/2019
The Minnesota Basketball Coaches Association has named four men who will be inducted into the MBCA Hall of Fame on October 26th. The purpose of the MBCA Hall of Fame is to give special recognition to the people of Minnesota who have made significant contributions to promote high school basketball in the state via their achievements and service.

The 2019 inductees are:

Tim Anderson – Maple River/Mankato Loyola/Mankato West
Jim MacDonald – Fridley
Dave Montbriand – Belgrade-Brooten-Elrosa
Dave Thorson – DeLaSalle

The induction ceremonies will be held at the MBCA Hall of Fame Luncheon on Saturday, October 26, 2:00 p.m., at the Hyatt Regency Hotel in Minneapolis.

Tim Anderson began his coaching career at Elmore HS; returning to his alma mater as the Head Boys Basketball coach following his college graduation. After one year at Elmore, he moved to Minnesota Lake where he served as an assistant coach for 8 years (Minnesota Lake joined Maple River in 1989). During his tenure as an assistant coach, the Eagles earned a State Tournament title in 1992-93 followed by a State Tournament berth in 1993-94. Tim assumed the lead reins of the Maple River program in 1994. During the course of his 14 seasons at the helm of the program he led the Eagles to ten Valley Conference crowns, and Section titles with State Tournament Appearances in 2006, 2007- state runner-up, and 2008- state third place. Coach Anderson "retired” after the 2008 season but returned to the hardwood in 2009 as the Head Girls coach at Maple River. In 2010, he accepted the position of Head Boys coach at Mankato Loyola where he coached for six years followed by a one year stint at Mankato West. He finished his career with an overall mark of 408-168. Tim was recognized by his peers as Section Coach of the Year in 2006 and 2008 and Minnesota Class AA State Coach of the Year in 2007. He served as a member of the MBCA Executive Board, including MBCA President, and coached in the MBCA All Star Series. His coaching career off the hardwood included 18 years as Head Coach of the Maple River girls' tennis program- earning State Coach of the Year honors in 2007. Since 2017 Coach Anderson has served as an Assistant Coach for the Waseca Bluejays, led by his son Seth.

Jim MacDonald’s coaching career spans 32 years- starting as an Assistant Coach at Fridley in 1988. After a one year stint as an assistant coach, “Mac” assumed the reins of the Tigers boys basketball program in 1988 and the 2019-20 season will be his 32nd season leading the Tigers. Under his tutelage and leadership, the Fridley hoopsters have earned multiple conference titles and won Section championships with State Tournament berths in 2002 and 2016. Coach MacDonald has been recognized by his peers with multiple Conference Coach of the Year honors and being named Section Coach of the Year four times. He is a member of the 400 wins club and enters the 2019-20 season with an overall record of 410-345 as a head coach. In addition to coaching basketball, Coach MacDonald also coached track for 15 years at Fridley, including 10 years as the Head Coach. He led the Tigers to four conference titles and a Section championship with a state runner-up finish. He earned Conference Coach of the Year, three times, and Section Coach of the Year honors twice, while coaching track. Jim serves on the MBCA Academic All State Committee and participated as a coach in the MBCA All Star Series.

Dave Montbriand’s basketball coaching career at BBE spanned 29 years- starting as an Assistant Coach at Brooten in 1985. In 1990, he was offered and accepted the position as Head Basketball Coach of the merged Belgrade-Brooten-Elrosa school district. Dave served two stints leading BBE Boys hoops- 1991-2005 and 2009-2014. Under his tutelage and leadership, the Jaguars earned six Central Minnesota conference titles and captured Section 6A/5A championships with State Tournament appearances in 2011, 2012, and 2014. The 2011 BBE squad finished as Minnesota Class A runner-ups and the 2012 and 2014 Jaguars garnered Minnesota Class A State Championship honors. The Jaguars State Tournament teams compiled an overall record of 121-4. From 2009-2014, BBE was virtually unbeatable at home, 71 consecutive wins including 70 consecutive CMC conference victories. Montbriand was recognized by his peers as Section Coach of the Year five times and Minnesota Class A State Coach of the Year in 2012. He finished his career as a head coach with an overall mark of 388-171. In addition to coaching boys basketball, Coach Montbriand coached football, baseball (Head and Assistant), girls basketball, and junior high boys basketball. Dave retired from teaching and coaching junior high basketball at BBE at the conclusion of the 2017-18 school year. He coached JV Basketball for Canterbury HS in Fort Myers, Florida in 2018-19.

Dave Thorson began his coaching career as an assistant at the University of South Dakota in 1989 and the Minnesota Gophers from 1990-94. After five years coaching college hoops, Dave moved from Williams Arena to Nicollet Island and began his high school coaching career as the Head Basketball Coach at DeLaSalle High School. During the course of the next 23 seasons, he led the Islanders to nine State Championships, including six consecutive-2012-2017. The nine state titles are the most by a coach in state history and the six year championship streak is unmatched in state history. Overall, his Islander squads won 13 Section titles and State Tournament berths and 20 Tri-Metro Conference crowns. His teams amassed an overall record of 527-130, a winning percentage of 81%. The 1998-2002 Islanders won 72 consecutive games. Coach Thorson is a 12 time recipient of MBCA Section Coach of the Year honors and was named Minnesota AAA Coach of the year four times- 2005, 2006, 2016, and 2017. Thorson served as a member of the MBCA Executive Board. Dave represented Minnesota basketball on the national and international scene as a coach and clinician for USA Basketball and Nike. In addition to his legendary coaching career, he also served as the DeLaSalle Vice-President of Development. Coach Thorson returned to the college coaching ranks after the 2017 campaign and is currently in his second season as the lead assistant at Colorado State University.
Season 2, Season 58: Lessons From Quality Coaches8/31/2019
By the time Travis Martin was born, Ron Stolski had been a head football coach for 29 years. And now, 29 years later and more than half a century apart in age, they are equals; Martin is in his second season as the head coach at Windom and Stolski is in his 58th year overall and 45th at Brainerd.

While their histories vary, their season openers were similar. Brainerd lost at Elk River 57-0 on Thursday night in a Class 5A game and Windom lost to fellow Class 1A team Martin County West 43-0 on Friday night in Windom's first home game in two seasons; the Eagles played every game last year on the road due to disastrous flooding of their home field.

Stolski turned 80 a few weeks ago but you would never know it, and he's not sure he believes it.

"I don’t feel like I’m 80," he said, standing in a parking lot a couple hours before the first game of his 58th season. When I mentioned that I would be going to Windom a day later, Stolski recalled his third season as a coach. A graduate of Minneapolis Patrick Henry High School and Macalester College, he began his career as a 22-year-old in 1962, coaching eight-man football in Kensington, and after two years moved to Slayton, which is 36 miles west of Windom. He was in Slayton for one season, Princeton from 1965-70, Park Center from 1971-74 and went to Brainerd in 1975.

Stolski’s advice for young coaches is pretty simple, offering three main points. Number one: Care about the kids. Number two: Learn as much about the profession as you can. “Most of us coach the way we were coached. But there's so much out there now,” he said. “And thirdly, have patience. Don't be hard on yourself. It's a process. Coaching is a splendid way to spend a life.”

Stolski said that when he was a young coach, punching blackboards or lockers resulted in a broken hand more than once. “You have to have passion, and passion lasts a lifetime,” he said. “But you must be prepared before you decide to kick the doors down. That's what you learn. You can't always do it all on fire. You prepare your team as best you can.”

Martin, a North Dakota native, is learning about preparation as well as building a football program. He was a Windom assistant coach for two years before taking over last season. The Eagles won three games in 2015, two in 2016, three in 2017 and lost all nine road game last season. But positive signs are afoot: Windom’s roster has grown from 28 players in 2017 to 36 last year, and 53 players are on the current roster.

Brainerd has 83 players this fall, and the Warriors and Eagles both are young. Brainerd has 44 sophomores and Windom’s roster has 21 ninth-graders and 11 sophomores.

Before their first home game in two seasons, Martin told the boys, “We have waited an agonizingly long time to play here.”

Things went Martin County West’s way from the get-go, and the Mavericks led 29-0 at halftime. As “Welcome to the Jungle” played on the P.A. system, the Eagles gathered behind the home-side metal bleachers.

Before the coaches joined them, senior wide receiver Esteban Sandoval told his teammates, “Keep your heads up! Be proud to be an Eagle!” A couple minutes later, Martin’s message brimmed with optimism: “Guys, one play at a time, that’s how it happens. They scored 29, so can we.”

It wasn’t to be. Martin County West finished with 332 total yards (259 on the ground) to Windom’s 97 and the Eagles turned the ball over too many times. But the Mavericks’ accomplishment may provide somewhat of a road map for the Eagles; MCW won just one game last season, beating Windom in Week 3.

“It didn't go the way we wanted it to,” Martin said. “But you know, that's part of the game. I've told the boys that I've played and coached a lot of football games and I can't tell you the score of very many of them, because that's not what you remember. And that’s the big point.”

Stolski would certainly agree. Before the Warriors played at perennial 5A contender Elk River, he presented this message to the team:

“We’ve talked about some past teams, the 2017 team, the 2010 team that stopped Eden Prairie on the 3 in the playoffs.” And now, the coach’s voice began to rise. “Listen, it’s your story now. One day, God willing, somebody will be telling the story of you. A coach will stand up and say, ‘Let me tell you about the Warriors of 2019.’

“Play clean. Play sharp. Rattle the pads. It’s going to be a beautiful journey. I envy you. Tonight, we stand as one.”

Elk River’s vaunted misdirection T-formation offense was brilliant for Week 1. The Elks did not throw a pass but ran for 563 yards, including touchdown bursts of 40, 53, 75, 83 and 63 yards.

After Windom’s season-opening loss, Martin encouraged his team. “This is Week 1,” he said to the silent group. “We have a long way to go. We’ll get there together. We’ll get there. You’ve got to believe it.”

Brainerd’s postgame gatherings are for players only, who meet in an end zone and talk among themselves. While this was taking place in Elk River, Stolski – retired English teacher that he is -- was quoting Hemingway.

“We’re disappointed, not discouraged,” he said. “Hemingway wrote, ‘Now is not the time to think of what you do not have. Think of what you can do with what there is.’ ”

Those words are from “The Old Man and the Sea.” And they ring true with all people, no matter their age … but maybe especially among coaches.

--Follow John on Twitter @MSHSLjohn, listen to "Preps Today with John Millea” wherever you get podcasts and hear him on Minnesota Public Radio.
Two Knees, Two Lost Seasons: Edina’s Ashlen LeVoir 8/27/2019
Count your blessings. Be grateful for your opportunities, because they can be taken away. Ashlen LeVoir, a senior midfielder on the Edina High School girls soccer team, knows this well. The scars on her knees tell the story: A torn ACL in her right knee before her sophomore season put her on the shelf, and a partial tear of the same ACL prior to her junior year cost her another full season of soccer.

During the second surgery, a portion of the patellar tendon in her left knee was removed and used to stabilize her right knee. She came home with full-length casts on both legs, nearly immobilized and wondering, after missing two seasons, if she would ever play soccer again.

"I was just so angry, I couldn't leave the house for two weeks, I couldn’t bend my legs or anything,” she said. “I was strapped in like a mummy. It was not fun.”

“I cried with her,” said Hornets coach Katie Aafedt. “It was tough and it came like a gut punch. I can’t imagine what it was like for her.”

The ACL (Anterior Cruciate Ligament) helps stabilize the knee joint, connecting the femur to the tibia. Studies have reported that female athletes are two to 10 times more likely to have ACL tears than male athletes. The odds of blowing the same knee twice in two years? Ashlen doesn’t want to think about it; she just wants to immerse herself in a senior season that -- fingers crossed -- is memorable because of what happens on the field, not off it.

“I try to keep a positive attitude about things,” she said. “They can seem like the worst thing, but then the best thing can come out of it. I’m so happy to be back. It’s been two years too long.”

The Hornets are 2-0 after victories over Minneapolis Washburn and Chanhassen. Ashlen’s minutes on the field are being expanded each week, and her teammates are thrilled to have her back.

“I just can’t imagine how hard that must have been, but she’s always had a smile on her face and a positive attitude,” said senior Abby Swanda. ‘It’s so cool that she’s back and she looks so good, it’s so much fun to watch her play again. Everybody is really happy about it.”

Ashlen was a starter on Edina’s ninth-grade team and on the cusp of playing with the varsity that year, Aafedt said. Her first injury happened during a club soccer tournament. Surgery was followed by grueling rehab and a sophomore season spent as a team manager. She was cleared to play for the summer club season before her junior year, and the second injury took place during club tryouts.

“Same knee, same everything,” she said. “It didn’t feel exactly like the first time I did it because it was a partial tear. That was the worst I’ve ever felt in my life. I couldn’t believe it. I just told myself that after all this, something had to come out of it. I tried to keep my head up.”

Ashlen was listed on the varsity roster last year, which helped her maintain a strong connection with her teammates even though she was unable to play.

“We’ve all been playing with her since a young age and we’ve all been friends for life,” said senior Megan Phillips. “It’s cool to see her story unfold.”

Aafedt said, “She attacked rehab both times. To her credit, mentally she was very strong, but she had two, three days where you could tell it was really tough, and then she kind of flipped her mentality to, ‘Let’s do this.’ She’s a very athletic, strong soccer player, very technical, very quick. She’s one of the most hardworking, sweetest kids I know.”

Several of her teammates have finalized college soccer plans, and Ashlen is hoping that even with two lost seasons she will get a similar opportunity.

“I’m trying to see if maybe any colleges need anybody,” she said. “It’s hard because most people have been looked at. Missing two years, I still want to fulfill my soccer career. I’m just taking it game by game; playing 30 minutes this week and it’ll go up 10 minutes each week. I’m taking it slow, hopefully it will turn around and I’ll have the best season.”

Asked if she has felt trepidation about Ashlen playing at full speed, Aafedt smiled and said, “Oh yeah, very much so. The first couple days of preseason I flinched quite a bit when she went near the ball or she was in a situation where she was going to cut or change directions. It was a lot of fun to put her in that first game.”

Ashlen doesn’t wear a knee brace or anything, other than the scars, that would identify her as an athlete who has had knee injuries.

“I’ve been asked if I want to wear a brace, but I don’t want to think about it. I don’t want to have it in my brain, I don’t want it to affect how I play. I’m just going into it like I’m doing whatever I can to help the team win. I want to look up, and that’s all behind me now.

“I have all this great stuff ahead.”

--Follow John on Twitter @MSHSLjohn, listen to "Preps Today with John Millea” wherever you get podcasts and hear him on Minnesota Public Radio.