John's Journal
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.

*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 John Millea is on Twitter at

How About This For An Exciting Family Weekend? 5/15/2011
The Dirth family of Apple Valley had an unforgettable couple of days. Proud parents Rod and Geri (Rod is the head coach of the boys track team at Apple Valley High School and Geri is head coach of the girls track team) saw their kids put on a display that might be hard to beat. And then the kids saw their mother receive a high honor.

--Their daughter Deidra, who graduated from Drake University last year and completed a Division I varsity track career there, received a master’s degree in business administration from Drake on Saturday.

--Their twin sons, Devin and Dalen, each captured conference track championships in the decathlon. Devin, a junior at St. Thomas, won the decathlon at the Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference meet, and Dalen, a junior at Luther College, won the same event at the Iowa Intercollegiate Athletic Conference meet. Dalen finished with a total score of 6,162 and Devin had 6,141.

And to top off the Dirth family’s big weekend, Geri was inducted into the MSHSL Hall of Fame on Sunday afternoon. She has coached track, cross-country and basketball during 31 years at Apple Valley. Her girls track teams have won 10 conference and True Team championships, 15 section titles and five state championships. She has coached 25 individual track state champions, including Olympian Shani Marks-Johnson. (Geri is pictured here with MSHSL board of directors president Les Zellmann.)

Congrats to the Dirth family!

--For photos of all the Hall of Fame inductees, go to the MSHSL Facebook page.

Taking Some Time Off, And Taking A Look Back5/10/2011
The John’s Journal staff is taking some time off this week to attend to a regular rite of spring: graduation.

In the meantime, feel free to take a look at some of the recent stories posted here. Scroll down until you see “More of John’s Journal” and click away.

Here are just a few of the stories you’ll find…

--St. Francis sophomore Maggie Ewen, who recently set a new state record in the discus.

--A program at Spring Lake Park in which high school athletes spend time helping first- and second-graders improve their reading skills.

--Remembering 9-11 and how high school sports can help us heal.

--A big night for track at the Hamline Elite Meet.

--Terry Steinbach, former major league catcher now coaching high school baseball (including his son).

--Wrestling weight changes and more.

See you next week!
In A Few Quiet Moments, A Great Lesson In Sportsmanship5/6/2011
Thanks to a grateful parent and an administrator who understands that we need to share great stories from school activities, I am proud to pass along a wonderful lesson in sportsmanship as well as friendship.

The stars of this story are Hannah Barrett, a senior at Verndale High School and a member of the Bertha-Hewitt/Verndale track team, and Alexa Hoffarth, an eighth-grader on the track team at Osakis. They had never met until they were preparing to run the 300-meter hurdles at the recent Osakis Lions Invitational.

I’ll let the email from Gina Hoffarth (Alexa’s mom) tell the tale in just a moment. But my thanks also go to Bertha-Hewitt athletic director Steve Riewer. Steve and several others at Verndale and Bertha-Hewitt received the email below from Alexa’s mom, and Steve was kind enough to forward that email to me. Enjoy …

To Whom It May Concern,

I am writing to express my appreciation to one of your female athletes who participated in the Osakis Lions Invitational last night. Our eighth-grade daughter ran the 300-meter hurdles for the first time last night and was literally terrified.

“Hannah, a senior” from your school approached her while they were waiting to get on the track. I’m not sure of the exact conversation, but she basically asked her if she was OK (nerves must have been obvious) and then reassured her that she would do fine. She went on to tell her how long she had been working on them and that after much practice she now loved that race.

“Hannah” encouraged her to persevere even if the first time didn’t go perfectly and reminded her that God had a plan for her. Our daughter hit the first hurdle and almost went down, but did go on to finish the race. This short conversation that “Hannah” may not even remember made a significant impact on our daughter.

Our daughter was disappointed with herself for taking sixth place and hitting the hurdle, but she recalled her conversation with the kind girl who not only understood her fears, but was able to help her look at running hurdles in a positive way. It was the one solace that our daughter fell back on last night that may help her in other future athletic endeavors. From another athlete, these words of encouragement went much further than any encouragement we gave her as parents.

I am not one to write letters on a whim, but I wanted to thank this athlete from your school. It is impressive that she took the time to visit with an opponent. My husband and I believe this experience will stick with our daughter. We will challenge her to “pay it forward” to another athlete in the future. Please commend your athlete(s) and coaching staff for taking the time and making a difference in the life of another athlete.

Gina Hoffarth
Osakis Track parent