John's Journal
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
A Great Game, A Great Atmosphere And A Terrific New Facility 9/17/2011
One of the great traditions in Minnesota high school football takes place at Mahtomedi High School, and it begins hours before the games even start. The tradition is music; specifically, college fight songs played over the sound system. For about as long as anyone can remember, those tunes have been the siren songs as fans flock to George Smith Field and watch their Zephyrs.

Friday’s game against St. Thomas Academy was no different. As I got out of my car, I heard the Michigan fight song “The Victors” … and the Notre Dame Victory March … and the Minnesota Rouser … and on and on. But the music was about the only thing that was the same from previous years at Mahtomedi. Because everything else is new.

Thanks to a referendum approved by voters in the district, Mahtomedi now has one of the finest football/track facilities in the state. The football field, although rich with tradition, was known as a beat-up grass surface before artificial turf was installed earlier this year. The track also is new, as are the bleachers, the press box, the ticket windows, the fencing, etc.

“It’s community support,” said Mahtomedi athletic director Jeff Whisler. “Without the referendum this doesn’t happen.”

Friday’s game pitted not only two Classic Suburban Conference teams, but two of the top teams in Class 4A. St. Thomas Academy came in holding the No. 2 spot in the Associated Press 4A rankings, with the Zephyrs No. 3 (Mankato West is No. 1). The Cadets, who trailed Mahtomedi 13-0 at halftime, did all the scoring in the second half to take away a 21-13 win.

The atmosphere was sensational, thanks to the spectacular new facility, a standing-room crowd, two great rivals and an autumn chill in the air. Here are a few observations from my eighth high school football game of the season …

--The best name in prep sports so far this year might be St. Thomas Academy senior running back Hootie Hubbell. After Hootie ran 38 yards for the go-ahead score on fourth and inches in the third quarter, I posted that news on Twitter. One of my followers sent this reply: “That kid has the best name in MN football: Hootie Hubbell.” Who could argue? Well, maybe one of Hootie’s teammates: senior defensive back Paddy Clancy.

--The large and boisterous Mahtomedi student section had lots of fun all evening and even pulled off a little costume trickeration. They all wore black shirts during the first half, and when the second half began they had all switched to white tops.

--As the ball was snapped on both of Mahtomedi’s touchdowns, Zephyrs coach Dave Muetzel was yelling “Timeout! Timeout! Timeout!” Thankfully for the coach, his offensive players didn’t hear his shouts. On the first one, Trevor Dittberner ran 2 yards for a touchdown, and on the second one, Luke Lindahl scooted 6 yards for another score.

--Late in the third quarter, tempers became a little elevated on the field. After each team was called for a personal foul on the same play, the referee called all 22 players together and had a few words with them. That was the end of the problem. Well done.

--The star of the game (in my eyes, at least) was my friend Nick Walsh, a first-rate broadcaster who was doing play-by-play of the game via the MSBN online sports network. The battery in my cell phone was dying at halftime, but Nick loaned me his charger in the press box, easily saving the day. I owe him a Diet Coke.

--To see photos and video from the game, go to the MSHSL Facebook page.

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
Some News Briefs As Another Busy Week Comes To A Close9/16/2011
It’s Friday, which means another evening of football games. The weather has certainly turned more football-friendly, as we’ll all be adding a few more layers than in previous weeks.

I’ll be reporting on a game later this evening, and in the meantime I want to share two news items. One is from Minnesota and the other is from Michigan.

--The first item is courtesy of Maple Lake athletic director Dave Schroeder:

Marty Kiebel, head volleyball coach at Maple Lake High School, recently won his 200th volleyball game (all with Maple Lake). The 200th win came in a five-set match with Monticello, his alma mater, on Aug. 30th. This is Marty's 11th year as head coach. The Irish girls have gone on to win seven more matches since his 200th and are standing at 12-0 for the season. Marty's career record 207-121.

--The second item is from the Michigan High School Activities Association. I joined the MSHSL exactly 18 months ago, and now the Michigan association has made a similar hire. I’m certain that more high school associations across the country will be doing the same. Here’s the press release from the MHSAA:

EAST LANSING, Mich. – Sept. 13 – An award-winning journalist while covering high school sports over the past decade, Geoff Kimmerly will join the Michigan High School Athletic Association staff in the newly created position of Media & Content Coordinator later this month.

Since 2000, Kimmerly has served as the prep sports editor for the Lansing State Journal, where he directed the coverage of 46 mid-Michigan athletic programs, produced blogs and hosted videos on the outlet’s website that were among its most viewed offerings. He also covered Michigan State University athletics.

Kimmerly received a number of awards for his writing from the Michigan Press Association and the Michigan Associated Press. He was also a member of the AP’s selection committee for all-state teams and a voter for its weekly football and basketball polls.
In his role with the MHSAA, Kimmerly will take a lead role in expanding the available content on the Association’s website, including the creation of original stories and features on high school sports. He will also help manage the schedules and scores section of MHSAA.com, assist with media relations, and take responsibility for coordinating statewide records.

“Geoff has been an outstanding writer for the Lansing State Journal over the past decade, and visitors to MHSAA.com will enjoy the new content he will create,” said John E. “Jack” Roberts, Executive Director of the Association. “He has also shown versatility in new media that will help us expand our internet outreach to schools.”

Kimmerly, a native of Frankenmuth, is a 1999 graduate of Michigan State University with a Bachelor of Arts in Journalism. He will begin his duties at the MHSAA on Sept. 26.