John's Journal
Have a Fun, Safe Holiday Weekend7/1/2010
With the Fourth of July weekend upon us, here's wishing you safe travels and pleasant memories.

The summer period of no contact between coaches and athletes is in place through July 7. The intent of the no-contact period is to ensure there is no contact at all with the students and the coaches during this seven-day period. (Baseball and softball coaches are exempt from the seven-day no-contact period.)

Enjoy the weekend!

Summer Has Arrived: What Does That Mean For You?6/29/2010
The temperatures have warmed, spring sports have come to a close and what were once known as the lazy, hazy days of summer have arrived. If you’re an athlete or active in other school activities, however, maybe summer doesn’t mean as much down time as it once did.

Hopefully you’re headed off on a family vacation or you’re taking time to drop a line in the water, read a good book and recharge. Maybe you’re participating in a sports camp or attending a debate camp or similar summer activity.

We’d like to learn what summer means to you, and we have started a discussion thread on the MSHSL Facebook page. Join us there and let us know what you’re doing on these summer days.

--Join the MSHSL on Facebook by clicking on the Facebook button on the right side of John Millea is on Twitter at
Baseball Coach Moves From Apple Valley to Lakeville South6/28/2010
Apple Valley High School has announced the resignation of Al Iversen as the head baseball coach. Iversen, a resident of Lakeville and an elementary school teacher in Lakeville, will become the varsity baseball coach at Lakeville South High School.

Iversen has coached the Eagles baseball team for the past 10 seasons, leading the team to a 148-96 (.607) record. Under Iversen, the Eagles captured the 2006 Class AAA state championship. They also won Lake Conference titles in 2002, 2004 and 2007.

Applications are now being accepted. Interested applicants can send a cover letter and resume to Apple Valley athletics director Pete Buesgens.
Maddie & Brittany (Part Two)6/24/2010
AS BRITTANY STRUGGLED, her best friend was there for her.

“For a while I kind of shut down, I stopped talking to people. Part of me didn’t want to talk, I didn’t want to put a burden on other people,” Brittany said. “But one time Maddie was like, ‘What the heck? Talk to me.’ So that’s when we started talking again. That was really hard. It was crazy.”

The transition from Concordia Academy to Lion’s Gate also was rough at times. The students at Concordia were extremely close and it was difficult to accept that their school was closing. It was especially hard for the students in the class of 2010, who would spend their senior year in a new school.

“It was really hard for the seniors. The old building was like home to us,” Brittany said. “People would be there from 7 in the morning until 9 at night. There was just so much going on and it felt like home. Then to come here was kind of hard because you remember everything about the old school. “

“But it was the same people,” Maddie said.

“We talked about it a lot for the first month or so,” said Brittany. “We’d say, ‘This is so weird, it isn’t the same.’ But we knew it would be OK.”

Their senior year was filled with memorable sports moments, especially in basketball. Lion’s Gate and Bethany Academy in Bloomington have a cooperative girls’ basketball team which fell one game short of the Class 1A state tournament, losing to Maranatha Christian in the Section 4 championship game. The Bethany/Lion’s Gate team opened the season with a 13-game winning streak and finished with a record of 24-5.

Basketball will help Brittany and Maddie continue their friendship. Both will attend St. Olaf College in Northfield and play on the basketball team. The choice was easy for Brittany, who loved St. Olaf from her first visit and was accepted during the early decision admission process. Maddie’s family had a tradition of attending Gustavus Adolphus College in St. Peter, and she struggled with her decision.

“I think the only reason I visited St. Olaf was because Britt said she liked it,” Maddie said. “So I thought I’d check it out, but I didn’t decide until April. It just felt a lot better, and the girls on the basketball team are like a little community. It’s pretty nice.”

“It wasn’t like we decided because of each other,” Brittany said. “Obviously that’s a great plus, but we both wanted to make the decision that was best for us.”

PARTLY BECAUSE OF their experiences with sports injuries, both girls plan to go into fields related to medicine and athletics.

“I want to be a physical therapist because of my knee,” Brittany said. “When I went through physical therapy I thought, ‘This is really cool.’ So I want to double major in biology and sports kinesiology.”

Maddie is considering becoming an athletic trainer. “Once we’re done playing sports, I’d still like to be in it somehow,” she said.

Both girls once had dreams of playing Division I basketball, “but once we got closer to college, we realized there were other things that were important to us; our faith and friends and families,” Maddie said.

They would love to be college roommates, but that is not guaranteed. When their filled out St. Olaf housing applications, they did it together – writing down the same information and preferences -- in the hopes they would be matched as roommates.

“That would be very cool,” Brittany said.

They are ready for college, but they share the same jitters and worries of all incoming freshmen.

“I think it’s going to be exciting but also kind of nerve-racking,” Brittany said. “College is so different; you’re on your own and you don’t have your parents there to remind you of everything.”

No, the girls won’t have their parents there. But they will have each other, best friends staying together.

And they’ll be just fine.

--Join the MSHSL on Facebook by clicking on the Facebook button on the right side of John Millea is on Twitter at

Maddie & Brittany: A Story of Best Friends6/24/2010
If you’re lucky, really lucky, you have a best friend. Someone who lifts you up when you’re down, someone you can call at any time for any reason, someone who is as close as family.

Brittany Webber and Maddie Ehrich have been going to school together since first grade. They became best friends in third grade, they have been classmates and teammates ever since, and they graduated from high school together this spring. They will remain together in college, too, as classmates and teammates.

I learned about Maddie and Brittany from Glenn Rollins, the principal at Lion’s Gate Christian Academy in Richfield. This spring he sent me an email that began like this: “For the past seven years, no matter what school, Maddie Ehrich and Brittany Webber have always had each other to lean on as classmates.”

I sat down with the girls Thursday morning at Lion’s Gate, a Lutheran school located near Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport. The school opened last fall after the closure of Concordia Academy in Bloomington. The enrollment of 60 high school students included 19 graduating seniors; Maddie ranked fourth in the senior class with a 3.95 grade-point average and Brittany was fifth with a 3.84 GPA.

They were co-presidents of the student council and teammates in soccer, basketball and softball. They own numerous all-conference awards, all-section awards, all-state academic awards and school records.

Maddie and her family live in Eden Prairie and Brittany and her family live in St. Louis Park. They have experienced wonderful moments and tough times together, but their friendship is neither spectacular nor rare. Like so many friendships forged through school and related activities, however, it is very special.

THE FRIENDSHIP BEGAN when someone picked on Maddie in third grade at St. Peter’s Lutheran School in Edina. Brittany, who was friends with the child who was mean to Maddie, came to her rescue.

“I told my friend that I wasn’t OK with that,” Brittany said. “I started hanging out with Maddie and we’ve been friends ever since.”

The girls have not only been friends, they have been in the same classroom for nearly every class throughout their education. For one semester in high school they were in separate math classes; other than that their class schedules have always been the same.

That means there were many hours of studying together, as well as homework consultations, sometimes very late in the evening.

“We would call each other super late,” Brittany said. “We would say, ‘I have no idea what this question is about. Can you help me out?’ ”

They go to Valleyfair, they go bowling, they hang out together with other friends. They were in the cast of the school musical this year, “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat.”

But life hasn’t always been sunshine and happy times. Both girls had serious injuries during their sophomore year; Brittany went down with a torn ACL early in the basketball season and Maddie suffered a thumb injury in softball. Both required surgery and lengthy rehabilitation.

It wasn’t easy for Maddie to visit Brittany in the hospital after her knee surgery. “Hospitals are like my biggest fear,” Maddie said. “She was scary-looking.”

The worst moments came when Brittany’s dad, Dan Webber, was diagnosed with throat cancer that same year. It was difficult, as well, for Brittany to accept that she required assistance just doing simple tasks after her knee surgery.

“I needed a lot of help with everything,” she said. “That was kind of hard for me because I’m used to being independent. So to have someone help me do every little thing was really frustrating. Then to go visit my dad in the hospital and not be able to do anything to help my mom, it was kind of a hard year. But my dad’s doing good now.”