John's Journal
Ben and Logan: Our Test Pilots4/13/2010
Ben Arens and Logan Suko, both ninth-graders from Rockford High School, are the first “test pilots” for a new program at the MSHSL. The program is called Student Sports Information Directors, and Ben and Logan helped the program take its first steps this morning.

Spring Area Meetings – in which MSHSL staff updates school representatives at gatherings held around the state – began this morning at Edinburgh USA Golf Course in Brooklyn Park. Athletic/activity directors from schools in the Twin Cities area gathered for the meeting, and Ben and Logan came to the event with Rockford activities director Mike Tauber.

A small number of schools were invited to bring students to the area meeting; similar invitations are being issued for the rest of the upcoming area meetings, which will be held in Mankato, Marshall, Rochester, Thief River Falls, Fergus Falls, Brainerd and Chisholm. Ben and Logan accompanied Mike Tauber to today’s gathering, and MSHSL Director of Information Howard Voigt and I sat down with Ben and Logan in the Edinburgh USA café while the area meeting was held in a nearby conference room.

We talked very informally about the Student SID program. Logan and Ben are both multi-sport athletes who are interested in journalism, writing and sports, so they are a perfect fit for the new program. One of the goals of the Student SID program is to have students from every high school in Minnesota write about their school’s athletic and activity programs, with their bylined stories appearing on their school’s homepage on the MSHSL website.

We hope to find students who enjoy writing and show a talent for journalism, along with teachers who will guide and encourage them.

Ultimately, we hope schools will have Student SIDs in each class, ninth through 12th grade, providing continuity and peer training as the program continues year by year.

At this point, we are taking the first small steps to get the program off the ground. No high school governing body in the nation has a program like this, and we are very excited about what began this morning with Ben and Logan.

John Millea is on Twitter at twitter.com/mshsljohn
Live Updates from Board of Directors Meeting4/12/2010
The MSHSL board of directors will meet this morning, with the gavel dropping at 9:30 a.m.

I'll be providing live updates from the meeting.

The agenda includes a discussion -- and possible action -- on the new travel policy and final approval of the state championship baseball games being played at Target Field.

The discussion items include possible changes in the tournament format for Class 4A state basketball and an update from the Football Task Force.

Board Meeting Update...10:50 A.M.4/12/2010
The board meeting is moving along, with the normal flow of reports from board members, legal counsel, lobbyist, executive director and executive committee.

Minneapolis Patrick Henry athletic director Dave Wicker, along with a parent from Minneapolis Southwest, spoke to the board early in the meeting about the travel policy.

The policy limits out-of-state travel to round trips of no more than 600 miles unless sanctioned by the MSHSL.

In a few minutes, the travel policy will be discussed by board members as the meeting reaches the “action items” portion of the agenda.

*The board just approved a request from Wayzata High School to play a home football game this fall against a Florida team that is not a member of the Florida High School Athletic Association.

11:55 Update: Travel Policy Changed 4/12/2010
After a lengthy discussion of the travel policy, centering on a proposal to make it a local issue and leave travel decisions for scrimmages and jamborees up to individual school boards, the board of directors approved the proposal.

This, in essence, makes travel a local issue, as it was before the MSHSL board of directors placed the 600-mile limit on schools last year.

The proposal, which was presented by Osseo athletic director Ray Kirch, says a series of steps are required for teams to travel. They include, but may not be limited to 1) a school board resolution approving travel for a team; 2) a copy of the itinerary; 3) a cost accounting of how the funds will be received by the school and the anticipated expenditure of funds by the school; 4) the manner in which the school will comply with Title IX relative to team travel for each gender; and 5) other items that may be requested by the MSHSL Board of Directors.

*The board also approved a contract with the Twins to hold the 2010 state championship baseball games at Target Field.

The meeting rolls on...

John Millea is on Twitter at twitter.com/mshsljohn
An Important Final Note4/12/2010
The MSHSL board of directors heard presentations on possible – repeat, possible – changes to the boys’ and girls’ state basketball tournaments and the format for regular-season football scheduling.

In both cases, the studies are very, very preliminary. The basketball discussions center around what is called a “super regional” concept and corresponding changes to the state tournament scheduling format.

The football discussions deal with scheduling issues as most surrounding states play in-state games only and schools have a harder time finding opponents. No changes are imminent on either issue.

Final Note: One of the highlights of today’s meeting was the very first item on the agenda. Each meeting begins with a board member offering a “reflection,” and Osseo athletic director Ray Kirch had that duty this morning. He spoke about professional baseball scouts watching one pitcher during a recent game but ignoring every other player on the field. He referred to the scouts’ job as choosing between the haves and the have-nots. And, he added, people associated with high school activities in Minnesota do not have to make those kinds of decisions, because – thankfully -- there is room for everybody.

The meeting has adjourned.

John Millea is on Twitter at twitter.com/mshsljohn