John's Journal
Student Journalists: Let's Visit The Twins And Timberwolves!5/19/2011
I'm proud to make this major announcement regarding the MSHSL Student Sports Information Directors program: The Twins and Timberwolves will sponsor "MSHSL Student SID Days" beginning next season.

Students selected to take part will experience stadium/arena tours, interviews with players and team officials, clubhouse/locker room visits and much more, including watching a game from a media viewpoint.

If your school is not yet part of the Student SID program, it's time to get started. Go to the bottom right corner of mshsl.org and click on the Student Sports Information Directors link for all the details.

More information on these exciting opportunities will be forthcoming. For now, let's offer a a big Thank You to the Timberwolves and Twins!
St. Francis' Ewen Extends Her Own State Discus Record5/19/2011
Updating a post from earlier this month...

St. Francis sophomore Maggie Ewen, who set a state record of 165 feet, 9 inches in the girls discus earlier this month, extended her record a bit further at Thursday's North Suburban Conference meet at Chisago Lakes with a toss of 166-8.
New Ulm Cathedral: Small School With Big Success5/18/2011
One wall of the gymnasium inside New Ulm Cathedral High School tells the stories … or at least the ending of some of the best stories. Ten banners celebrate state championships: six in softball, two in baseball and one each in dance and football.

The first baseball title came in 1964, but the rest of the championship stories are more current. Three softball state titles came in the 1990s and were followed by more gold in 2003, 2005 and 2007. The Greyhounds won a 2005 state baseball championship, the dance team brought home a 2000 crown and the latest banner to be hoisted honors Cathedral’s 2010 Class 1A football champions. Overall, Cathedral has won nine state titles in the last 18 years.

The banners are a testament to a small school with big aspirations, as well as an administration, coaches, teachers, families and students committed to excellence.

“We just kind of have an atmosphere right now of really trying to do the best we can,” said football coach Denny Lux. “And that’s in everything we do at Cathedral; it’s in the arts, it’s in athletics, in everything.”

Cathedral, which was founded in 1919, has an enrollment of 171. A large number of those students are involved in activities, and most of the athletes compete in more than one sport. The school’s facilities are spartan; the gym dates from the 1950s … the weight room is in the basement, where pads protect skulls from colliding with overhead vents … and the football team walks eight blocks to the practice field.

One of the thickest threads running through the athletic program at Cathedral is its corps of veteran coaches. Lux has been a teacher at the school for 26 years and the head football coach for 16. Baseball coach Bob Weier is in his 19th year and softball coach Bob Mertz has been on the job for 32 years. Weier, Mertz and longtime athletic director John Vetter are all Cathedral graduates from the 1960s.

“I think that we have an excellent coaching staff throughout, in all the sports,” said Weier (pictured at left), who recorded his 299th and 300th career coaching victories Tuesday when the Greyhounds swept Comfrey/Cedar Mountain in a Tomahawk Conference doubleheader.

The coaches’ career records tell the story, as well. Mertz is 642-114, Weier is 300-127 and Lux is 105-63. The Cathedral softball team is ranked No. 1 in Class 1A, the baseball team is No. 5 in 1A and the football team is coming off that state championship, a 13-1 season and 35-3 mark over the last three seasons.

“I look at it in two ways,” Vetter said of the coaches’ longevity and success. “One of them is we’ve been fortunate to have a tremendous sense of cooperation between coaches, players and parents. The other thing we’ve had here is that in order to be successful over a long period of time you need veteran coaches. And to have veteran coaches, people have to be able to coach in the right kind of environment. The board of education, the administration, parents and all the different stakeholders have to provide an environment in which coaches learn and grow and do their jobs.”

New Ulm has long been known as a baseball town, with a string of players signing professional contracts. At the top of that list is Terry Sterinbach, a graduate of New Ulm High who enjoyed a lengthy major league career and was profiled here on John’s Journal in late April.

“It’s tremendous,” Weier said of the town’s baseball tradition. “A kid in New Ulm, when he gets to 4 or 5 years old he wants to be a baseball player. You’re steps ahead. There are communities where kids want to be basketball players or football players. Here, they want to be baseball players.”

The story is similar in softball, said Mertz, who was an assistant coach when Cathedral started its softball program in 1979.

“Kids come to me with a lot of background in softball,” said Mertz (pictured at right). “We are able to work on some of the fancy pickoff plays, the slap bunting, and we’re able to do those things because they come to us with more knowledge of the game.

My whole thing is believing in defense. That puts those banners up in the gym. Bob Weier and I are fanatical about defense. We know that’s where it starts, and the kids know it, too.”

Defense also has played a major role in Cathedral’s success on the football field. After losing to Springfield 21-7 in the season opener last fall, the Greyhounds gave up only six touchdowns through the rest of the regular season. Their average margin of victory in the 2010 regular season and playoffs was 36-12.

Along with practices and hard work in the weight room, the football team’s long walk through the neighborhood to and from practice is part of their success, according to Lux.

“For practice we walk about eight blocks, and our athletes here don’t know any different because they’ve been doing it since the high school was founded,” he said. “It is a time, I think, to build that team chemistry as the guys walk down and walk back together. They’re joking around, having a good time. When our practice is over, they still have another 20 minutes to get back to the shower yet. That whole team concept continues for a while.”

The weight room has been a factor for all the athletic teams at Cathedral, even if it isn’t fancy. After all, what happens in that room is more important than how the room looks.

“We take a lot of pride in our weight room, we take a lot of pride in the fact that our athletes are dedicated to it,” Lux said. “In the summer, our weight room is open at 6:30 in the morning and it’s open again at 4:15 in the afternoon. When you hear the older generation talk about these younger kids and that they don’t know how to work, I tell them to come to our weight room at 6:30 in the morning and you’ll see the guys lined up to get in there. So they know what work is all about.”

In a small school, everyone helps each other, and that includes the coaches.

“I think we do learn from each other, and the athletes learn from all of us here,” Lux said. “We feel that our coaches, whether it be fall, winter or spring, are the kind of people who put in a lot of hard work. The kids trust us, they believe in us, and we do the same thing with them. We give them that respect back.”

--To see a photo gallery from New Ulm Cathedral, go to the MSHSL Facebook page.

BY THE NUMBERS
*Schools/teams John has visited: 634
*Miles John has driven: 9,873

--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
Coming Up: Report From Representative Assembly Meeting5/16/2011
The 48-member MSHSL Representative Assembly is meeting today at Edinburgh USA Golf and Event Center in Brooklyn Park.

The group is studying, discussing and voting on several proposed bylaw changes, concerning eligibility, competition and cooperative sponsorships.

I'll post a full report this afternoon...
Representative Assembly Makes Nine Bylaw Changes5/16/2011
The MSHSL Representative Assembly spent Monday morning studying, discussing and voting on a dozen proposed changes to MSHSL bylaws. During the 2 1/2-hour meeting, the 48-member Assembly approved nine changes and said no to three others.

The biggest decision was probably the Assembly’s “no” vote on a proposal to change transfer rules (Bylaw 111.00) regarding students who compete in high school activities while they are in seventh and/or eighth grade.

Under current bylaws, transfer rules take effect when a student enters ninth grade. Under the proposal, a student who participated in high school activities before ninth grade would be ineligible for varsity competition for one year if he/she transferred to another high school beginning in ninth grade. The proposal had 25 votes in favor and 23 opposed; 32 votes were required for passage.

Also under Bylaw 111.00, the Assembly approved a change in the language concerning parental custody of students. The new language reads, “A student of divorced parents who have joint physical custody of the student, as indicated in the divorce decree, who moves from one custodial parent to the other custodial parent shall be fully eligible at the time of the move:
1. At the public school in the new public school attendance area as determined by the district school board where the new residence is located; or
2. At any non-public school.
The student may utilize this provision only one time during grades 7-12 inclusive. The new residencecannot be located in the same public school attendance area as the previous residence. Rationale: Clarifies the divorce custody option.”

Here’s a rundown of other Assembly actions today that involved eligibility bylaws…

Bylaw 109.00: The Assembly clarified participation for seventh- and eighth-grade students who participate in MSHSL activities. Language was changed to allow six seasons of participation in any activity while in grades seven through 12.

Bylaw 101.00: The Assembly approved language that states: “A student who turns 20 during the 11th or 12th semester since first entering the 7th grade shall be allowed to participate through the completion of the 12th semester.”

Bylaw 103.00: The Assembly approved language that states: “Students must be full time students according to the Minnesota Department of Education criteria.Students must be on track to meet the school’s graduation requirements in six years (12 consecutive semesters) beginning with the first day of attendance in the 7th grade.”

Bylaw 104.00: The Assembly approved this language change concerning charter schools: “Charter School Students: Charter school students are eligible to participate in League-sponsored activities at their charter school or in a program cooperatively sponsored by the charter school and another member school or schools. For purposes of establishing residency, the public school attendance area where the charter school is geographically located shall be assigned to the charter school. Rationale: Provides a charter school transfer student the same family residency change option as the student who transfers to a public school.”

Bylaw 105.00: The Assembly changed the language regarding grade level eligibility. The new language states, “A student in grades 7, 8, or 9, who attends a school under a separate administrative head and governing board; which does not have a continuation high school and where no other opportunity for participation on a high school team exists; is eligible to participate for a high school team provided the high school and the non-continuation school have established a joint agreement for participation in all League activities. The participation agreement for each activity or athletic program can be formed with:
A. The public school in the public high school attendance area as determined by the district school board where the non-continuation school is geographically located. If the public high school in #1 above declines the request for participation agreement the non-continuation school may form a participation agreement with
any other public high school; or
B. Any non-public high school.
3. All participation agreements shall be established for a minimum of two years. If either or any of the schools involved in the participation agreement wish to dissolve the agreement, they may do so provided a minimum of one year’s notice is given to the other school(S) unless the schools involved mutually agree to discontinue the agreement.
4. A Non-continuation school can form only one participation agreement for each athletic or activity program. Rationale: Provides a clearly defined process for non-public high schools since non-public high schools do not have a “district” or “attendance area”.

Bylaw 106.00: The Assembly voted to remove language that allowed foreign exchange students to participate in fine arts after graduating from secondary schools.

Bylaw 110.00: The Assembly voted to change the language regarding semesters enrolled. The new language: “Students shall be eligible for participation in League-sponsored activities for twelve consecutive semesters (six years) beginning with their initial entrance into the 7th grade.
Counting Semesters: The student has twelve consecutive semesters for participation whether the student chooses to participate or not, and regardless of whether the student remains fully enrolled or not. The twelve consecutive semesters begin with the student’s initial entrance into the 7th grade. Rationale: Removes family positioning of students for multiple years of 7th or 8th grade.”

Bylaw 107.00: The Assembly voted against changing the language for required physical examinations.

In action outside the area of eligibility bylaws…

--The Assembly did not change the timeline for schools making requests to form cooperative sponsorships. The current bylaw states that requests must be made no later than the first day of practice for that sport season. Under the proposed change, requests must be made by May 1 for fall activities, Sept. 15 for winter activities and Nov. 15 for spring activities. There was no vote on this proposal, because no member of the Assembly made a motion to approve.

--The Assembly adjusted the rules for schools that schedule competitions against schools that are not members of the MSHSL. This is a very basic change, ensuring that non-MSHSL schools follow rules of their state’s governing body as well as the National Federation of State High School Associations.

BY THE NUMBERS
*Schools/teams John has visited: 629
*Miles John has driven: 9,843

--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