John's Journal
As New U.S. Citizen, Soccer Official Knows What’s Really Important9/22/2011
ST. CLOUD -- Adalberto Villalobos has played soccer all his life and worked as a high school soccer official in Minnesota for many years. But when Villalobos stands for the pregame national anthem this season, something is different.

The native of Costa Rica became an American citizen in May, and here’s how he describes hearing the anthem at his first soccer game this fall…

“A young lady sang it beautifully, and I found myself turning so the other officials wouldn’t see me getting teary-eyed. Emotions took over and it hit home; it’s for real, I’m here, I’m part of it. Not that I didn’t feel part of it or welcome or respected before, but it has taken a different turn. It’s a different lens now. It kind of makes you see things from a different perspective.”

Villalobos (right), 42, lives in St. Cloud with his wife Diane and their children Gabriel, 12, and Sofia, 8. Adalberto and Diane met when she visited Costa Rica as a student at St. Cloud State in 1991. He worked with a program that helped visiting students become acquainted with the country’s culture.

“The moment I saw her, the stars and the butterflies and everything came together,” he said, smiling. “She tells everybody the feeling was mutual.”

When Villalobos was 12 he had lived with relatives in Michigan for a year. He learned English at that time and he calls that year “one of the best gifts I’ve received. It continues to give.”

As his relationship with Diane – who teaches Spanish at St. Cloud’s South Junior High -- continued, he moved to Minnesota in 1993 and the couple was married. He played soccer in St. Cloud for several years, worked as an assistant coach at Tech High School and got into officiating. He worked junior varsity games for seven years and is now in his sixth season as a varsity official.

“Officiating definitely gives me a way to maintain that connection with a sport that is a passion in my life, to give back to the community and to give to the future generations,” he said. “I think that is key. Not only do we officiate and enforce the rules of the sport, but we serve as role models in a very direct way. We are almost a sample of authority that young adults will be faced with in their lives and they have to learn to respect that. I see it as a huge opportunity to contribute.”

In Costa Rica, soccer was everywhere for Villalobos. He was kicking a ball as he learned to walk, began playing on teams in elementary school and continued playing to the college level. Diane played soccer at Rosemount High School, and they both help coach their children’s soccer teams.

Villalobos (he is known to his friends as Adal), who works as a Spanish translator/interpreter, became an American citizen on May 4 at the Federal Courthouse in St. Paul. He was the only Costa Rican among 60 people who were naturalized that day. (In photo at left, he holds his certificate of citizenship.)

He could have applied for citizenship in 1996, three years after marrying Diane. “At the time the expense to become a citizen was enough to kind of say, ‘You know, if I’m a legal resident and all I’ll be missing is voting and being able to run for office, I’m OK with that.’ All the other benefits and advantages were there.”

But one day his children came home talking excitedly about holding elections at school. Their question: “Daddy, who are you voting for?”

“I had to explain it to them, which they understood,” he said. “It put a bug in my brain; this country has opened its doors to me, I feel welcome, respected, proud. How about if we formalize it?”

I spoke with Villalobos on Sept. 15, which was Costa Rica’s independence day. He admitted that his native country still tugged at his heart.

“It kind of bugged me, ‘Am I giving up being Costa Rican?’ Deep in my heart, I’m not stopping being Costa Rican. I’ll never stop cherishing and valuing just being who I am. But at the same time, it is an honor, it is a privilege and I take it with all the seriousness that it entails to be a U.S. citizen.

“To me, the participation in democracy at all levels is important. I’m a firm believer that we teach and we do much better when we show with our actions, when we are role models. If I’m teaching my kids to be good citizens and participate in democracy, why not show that dad is also proud of that and part of it.”

BY THE NUMBERS
*Schools/teams John has visited: 35
*Miles John has driven: 2,304

--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
This Week’s Associated Press Football Rankings9/21/2011
CLASS 5A
#1 (1) Eden Prairie (3-0)
2 (2) Wayzata (3-0)
3 (3) Cretin-Derham Hall (3-0)
4 (4) Lakeville South (3-0)
5 (6) Minnetonka (3-0)
6 (5) Blaine (3-0)
7 (7) Rosemount (3-0)
8 (8) Lakeville North (3-0)
9 (T10) Mounds View (2-1)
10 (T10) Hopkins (2-1)
Others receiving votes: Shakopee, Osseo, St. Cloud Tech, Owatonna

CLASS 4A
#1 (1) Mankato West (3-0)
2 (2) St. Thomas Academy (3-0)
3 (4) South St. Paul (3-0)
4 (5) Rogers (3-0)
5 (6) Bemidji (3-0)
6 (3) Mahtomedi (2-1)
7 (7) Delano (3-0)
8 (9) Hutchinson (3-0)
9 (10) Marshall (3-0)
10 (NR) Holy Angels (3-0)
Others receiving votes: Spring Lake Park, Hill-Murray, Detroit Lakes, Faribault, Hermantown, Northfield

CLASS 3A
#1 (1) Rochester Lourdes (3-0)
2 (T2) Albany (3-0)
3 (T2) Glencoe-Silver Lake (3-0)
4 (T2) Holy Family Catholic (3-0)
5 (7) Pequot Lakes (3-0)
6 (NR) St. Croix Lutheran (3-0)
6 (8) Plainview-Elgin-Millville (3-0)
8 (NR) Waseca (3-0)
9 (NR) Zimmerman (3-0)
10 (NR) New London-Spicer (3-0)
10 (NR) Fairmont (2-1)
Others receiving votes: Mora, Pine City, St. Cloud Cathedral, Montevideo

CLASS 2A
#1 (1) Waterville-Elysian-Morristown (3-0)
2 (3) Moose Lake-Willow River (3-0)
3 (T4) Barnesville (3-0)
4 (T4) Jackson County Central (3-0)
5 (T4) Pierz (3-0)
6 (NR) Caledonia (2-1)
7 (8) Chatfield (2-1)
8 (NR) Norwood-Young America (3-0)
9 (NR) Hawley (3-0)
9 (10) Mayer Lutheran (3-0)
9 (NR) Blue Earth Area (3-0)
Others receiving votes: BOLD, Eden Valley-Watkins, Maple River, Osakis, Dilworth-Glyndon-Felton

CLASS 1A
#1 (1) New Ulm Cathedral (3-0)
2 (2) Goodhue (3-0)
3 (3) Mahnomen (3-0)
4 (4) Adrian (3-0)
5 (6) Dawson-Boyd (3-0)
6 (T8) Southland (3-0)
7 (10) Warren-Alvarado-Oslo (3-0)
8 (T8) Blooming Prairie (3-0)
9 (NR) Braham (3-0)
9 (NR) Le Center (3-0)
Others receiving votes: MACCRAY, Deer River, Sleepy Eye, Fertile-Beltrami, Minneota/Lincoln

NINE-MAN
#1 (1) Edgerton/Ellsworth (3-0)
2 (2) Nicollet (3-0)
3 (3) Ada-Borup (3-0)
4 (5) Clinton-Graceville-Beardsley (3-0)
5 (6) Hills-Beaver Creek (3-0)
5 (7) Ulen-Hitterdal (3-0)
7 (8) Spring Grove (3-0)
8 (T10) Kittson County Central (2-1)
8 (NR) North Woods (3-0)
10 (NR) Grand Meadow (3-0)
Others receiving votes: Wheaton, Nevis, Onamia, Stephen-Argyle, Eagle Valley, Climax/Fisher, Goodridge/Grygla-Gatzke

Running For Lots Of Reasons, Putting Cancer In The Background9/20/2011
It’s safe to say that this is the biggest weekend of the regular season in high school cross-country, with the Roy Griak Invitational, the Milaca Mega Meet and the Apple Valley Eagle Invitational all scheduled for Saturday. Most of Minnesota’s top runners will be competing, with teams and individuals looking ahead to the state cross-country meet in Northfield on Nov. 5.

One Minnesota runner will not be seen reaching the finish line first in any of those races and she will not qualify for state. But she is content to just run, no matter the race, no matter the competition and no matter where she finishes.

Pierz High School junior Beth Broschofsky has been finishing way back in the pack while competing in junior high races this fall, and that is just fine with her. That’s because after surviving cancer and having a metal rod replace the humerus in her right upper arm, just running – even while wearing a large brace that keeps the arm strapped close to her body -- is enough.

As Beth finished last at a junior high race in Royalton last week, the encouragement was solid. She came down the final stretch to the sounds of teammates and friends shouting “C’mon Beth!” and “Way to go Beth!”

While I interviewed Broschofsky after the race, another runner came up and interrupted with a very quick, “Good job!” Beth told her, “You too!”

She does not run very fast, which is understandable with one arm strapped against her body. Broschofsky was a strong runner on the track team as a freshman, finishing third in the 3,200 meters at the Central Minnesota Conference championships. But a year ago, a week before the start of her sophomore year in school, the trouble began with a bump and some soreness in her right upper arm. She thought it might be a muscle tear or similar injury.

“We had an x-ray done and the doctor said it didn’t look right,” Beth told me. The x-ray was sent to the University of Minnesota hospital, and Beth soon had an appointment with a specialist there.

“They looked at the x-ray and they said the bone was weak. They were thinking it was either an infection or some sort of tumor.”

A biopsy was performed the next day, and the news was not good. It was Ewing’s Sarcoma, a rare form of bone cancer. (Orono High School soccer player Nick Manzoni, who was profiled in John’s Journal on Sept. 1, also was diagnosed with Ewing’s Sarcoma last year.)

Beth had her first chemotherapy treatment the same day that school started in Pierz. Surgery to remove the tumor in her arm was done Dec. 27, with more chemo following, as well as a bone-marrow transplant. She was home-schooled throughout the 2010-11 school year but it wasn’t all bad, she said with a smile.

“My grandpa (Herb Broschoskfy) taught me how to play cribbage during that time,” she said. “We played cribbage every day.”

Other than losing her hair, Beth handled the chemo very well. She saw other young patients suffering much worse fates, and she is thankful for the treatment and care she received.

“She leads by example and you never hear her complain,” said Pierz cross-country coach Rey Zimney. “And if anybody would have a reason to complain about something it would be her. She’s really been quite an inspiration.”

Last season would have been Beth’s first on the cross-country team. Now that she’s finally able to run again, her goals for this fall are simple: get stronger and be ready for track next spring.

“I’d just like to improve, I guess,” she said. “I’m kind of trying to get back into shape for track and be competitive.”

A section of bone and muscle in her shoulder was removed during surgery and the range of motion is limited. “I can still write and everything, but I can only lift my arm about this high,” she said, raising it a few inches. “Maybe with therapy I’ll be able to lift it a little farther.”

She wears the brace because the running motion could damage her shoulder and arm. “I’ll pretty much have to wear it forever (when running), because of my surgery. They want to keep my arm in place,” she said.

The highlight of the season might have come in Pierz’s first big meet, the Irish Invitational at Maple Lake on Sept. 1. Via email, Zimney told coaches of the other teams what Beth had experienced. He wrote: “This young lady went through HELL last year, but we can give her a moment she will never forget.”

And that’s exactly what happened. Beth knew nothing about what was in store as she got closer and closer to the home stretch of the junior high race.

“I didn’t know anything about it,” she said. “It was weird; I was running and everybody was saying my name and I was thinking, ‘How do they all know my name?’ I saw all these signs with my name and they were wearing my shirt that they had for a benefit. It was a surprise.”

Beth is healthy and getting stronger all the time. She has regular medical checkups but so far, so good.

“Yep, it’s looking good right now,” she said with another smile. “I’m just hoping it won’t come back.”

Indeed. One big comeback is enough.

BY THE NUMBERS
*Schools/teams John has visited: 34
*Miles John has driven: 1,854

--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
Marshall The New No. 1 Team In 2A Volleyball Rankings9/19/2011
In one of the biggest volleyball matches in the state last week, Marshall defeated Jackson County 3-2 in Jackson. As a result, Marshall is the new No. 1 team in the coaches association Class 2A polls.

The Tigers were No. 2 behind Jackson County Central when they met on Thursday. Jackson County Central is No. 2 this week.

The top two remain the same in 3A, with Lakeville North No. 1 and Bloomington Jefferson No. 2. Shakopee moved from No. 4 to No. 3 after defeating Wayzata last week. Wayzata fell from No. 3 to No. 5, with Lakeville South going from sixth to No. 4.

There were no changes in the Class 1A top 10, with Bethlehem Academy maintaining its hold on the No. 1 spot.

CLASS 3A
1. Lakeville North (17) 255
2. Bloomington Jefferson 233
3. Shakopee 202
4. Lakeville South 198
5. Wayzata 172
6. Blaine 171
7. Centennial 129
8. Eagan 120
9. Chanhassen 88
10. Eden Prairie 85
Others: Andover (75), Waconia (33), Hill-Murray (16), Minnetonka (11), Totino-Grace (5), Owatonna (1)

CLASS 2A
1. Marshall (8) 186
2. Jackson County Central (1) 175
3. Belle Plaine (2) 167
4. Lesuer-Henderson (1) 160
5. Stewartville (2) 153
6. Caledonia 98
7. Kasson-Mantorville 88
8. Maple Lake 83
9. Wadena-Deer Creek 77
10. Byron 68
Others: Jordan (67), Triton (29), Zumbrota-Mazeppa (18), Visitation (10)

CLASS 1A
1. Bethlehem Academy (13) 209
2. Mayer Lutheran 192
3. Wabasha-Kellogg 175
4. Nevis (1) 169
5. Minneota 147
6. Southwest Christian 120
7. Canby 118
8. Ada-Borup 113
9. BBE 77
10. Win-E-Mac 66
Others: MACCRAY (41), Mabel-Canton (22), Hancock (12), Littlefork-Big Falls (7)
Willmar Swimming & Diving: Wonderful Reminder Of What’s Really Important9/19/2011
Here’s a terrific story from Willmar, in the form of a letter of thanks from an athlete’s mother to school officials, coaches and teammates. It’s very easy to get wrapped up in who’s winning and who’s not, but sometimes we need a reminder of why school activities are truly important in ways that go far beyond what the scoreboard says...

Mr. Millea-
The following info is from an email that went to our head girls swim coach (Carl Shuldes), superintendent (Jerry Kjergaard) and me. It was sent by Lynn Stier (parent of Megan, the athlete spoken of below) and when I asked Lynn if she was OK with me passing it on to you she said she was fine with that. As an A.D., I really like to be included on POSITIVE emails like this, so I thought I would share with you. Thanks for your time and for sharing great stories on the MSHSL website!
Jamie Thompson
Willmar Activities

Carl,
I have thanked you personally for this amazing year so far for Megan, and also felt the need to thank you a little more publicly as you should be extremely proud of yourself, your girl’s swim/dive team, your coaches, and the great program you run that not only builds athletes, it builds character.

Background for Jamie and Dr. Kjergaard, our youngest daughter, Megan, is in the 8th grade and has Down syndrome. Megan typically has been involved in Special Olympics bowling in the fall. Last spring, my husband and I talked about wanting her involved in a more “active” sport and one that she really enjoys. I talked to Carl to see if our girls swim/dive team has had athletes with special needs and would this be feasible. He was completely open to the suggestion and this fall we decided to have Megan become part of this team. Carl has been very accommodating to Megan’s needs and we have adjusted practices and meets accordingly so she can enjoy them and be successful.

Either my husband or I try to be at every practice to just help out the coaches if needed. Megan is having the time of her life. She feels a part of the team, she has been participating in the diving mostly (for her it means feet first), and is making a connection with the teammates and coaches. Her endurance has improved greatly since practice started in August and she is able to make it through most of the practice time.

A few things really struck my husband and I and warmed our hearts (and this usually is followed by tearing up!). Early in the year, one of the seniors asked if she could be Megan’s “secret swimmer” which is a teammate who does the extra special things for another teammate for the away meets. That was very cool! Megan has been included in the team activities as well.

Last Thursday was Megan’s birthday and we also had a home meet. Carl was aware of this and really went the extra mile to make it even a more special day for Megan. The girls sang to her by the diving area. After the march in, it was announced and the team sang to her again and the crowd cheered. The diving girls and coach also gave her some great gifts that just made Megan feel even more part of the team.

We are so very proud of Megan’s accomplishments and definitely know that Carl, his coaches and the fellow teammates have contributed to these successes this fall. We cannot thank you enough for touching our lives and especially Megan’s in the ways that you have. We also know that Megan has touched many lives in return. We are all very blessed!

Thanks for taking the time to read this and it is a great success story to be shared even more publicly if the opportunity arises. I enjoy speaking publicly about these types of successes and would be willing to do so if ever needed. As we are looking at school programming, athletics, etc., and why it is important that they continue to be part of our children’s lives, this goes deeper for us personally. Thanks again and have a great day!

Lynn Stier