John's Journal
Class 2A Softball Rankings5/11/2018
CLASS 2A
Rank.(prev) School (Section) -(Points)
1.(1) Maple Lake (S5)-(47)
2.(2) Zumbrota-Mazeppa (S1)-(45)
3.(3) Pipestone Area (S3)-(40)
4.(5) Rochester Lourdes (S1)-(32)
5.(4) Park Rapids Area (S8)-(28)
6.(8) Chatfield (S1)-(25)
7.(6) St. Peter (S2)-(22)
7.(7) Esko (S7)-(22)
9.(12) Thief River Falls (S8)-(11)
9.(11) Tracy-Milroy-Balaton (S3)-(11)
Others receiving votes: Annandale (S6)-(9), Rockford (S5)-(8),Morris Area/Chokio-Alberta* (S3)-(6), Jordan (S2)-(6), Dilworth-Glyndon-Felton (S8)-(5), Tracy-Milroy-Balaton (S3)-(3), St. Agnes (S4)-(3)
Class 3A Softball Rankings5/11/2018
CLASS 3A
Rank.(prev) School (Section) -(Points)
1.(4) Faribault (S2)-(63)
2.(2) North Branch (S7)-(58)
3.(5) Mankato West (S2)-(55)
4.(2) Waconia (S2)-(54)
5.(1) Winona (S1)-(40)
6.(9) Hill-Murray (S6)-(37)
7.(6) Mankato East (S2)-(29)
8.(7) Rocori (S5)-(28)
9.(NR) Chisago Lakes (S7)-(27)
10.(10) Delano (S6)-(18)
Others receiving votes: Northfield (S1)-(15), Hermantown (S7)-(14),Totino-Grace (S4)-(7), Academy of Holy Angels (S3)-(6), Visitation (S3)-(6), Benilde-St. Margaret's School (S6)-(5), New Ulm (S2)-(4), Cloquet (S7)-(1), Detroit Lakes (S8)-(1)
Class 4A Softball Rankings5/11/2018
CLASS 4A
Rank.(prev) School (Section) -(Points)
1.(1) Prior Lake (S2)-(107)
2.(2) Buffalo (S8)-(87)
3.(3) Forest Lake (S7)-(86)
4.(4) Park (S3)-(77)
4.(4) Chanhassen (S2)-(77)
6.(8) New Prague (S1)-(38)
7.(7) Eastview (S3)-(37)
8.(6) Maple Grove (S5)-(33)
9.(9) Farmington (S1)-(28)
10.(11) Coon Rapids (S7)-(24)
Others receiving votes: North (S4)-(17), Minnetonka (S2)-(17),Elk River (S8)-(15), Anoka (S7)-(11), Rogers (S5)-(9), Stillwater Area (S4)-(8), Rosemount (S3)-(8), Burnsville (S2)-(7), Eagan (S3)-(7), Centennial (S5)-(6), Champlin Park (S5)-(2), Bloomington Jefferson (S2)-(1)
A Day To Honor Future Teachers In Maple Lake 5/11/2018
MAPLE LAKE – The ceremony, held before the start of the school day Thursday, was brief, lasting little more than five minutes. The impact, however, runs long and deep.

Seven college-bound seniors from Maple Lake High School were honored for their decisions to become teachers, and the short event in the school commons was very special. Similar to ceremonies for students who sign letters of intent to become college athletes, Thursday’s gathering was a mixture of minor pomp and major circumstances.

One year ago I wrote about Norwalk High School in Iowa, where superintendent D.T. Magee came up with the idea of honoring future educators and teacher Johanna MacKenzie planned their first signing ceremony. This year the idea is catching on in Minnesota. The Maple Lake ceremony was believed to be the first in our state; a similar event will be held next week at Burnsville High School.

The planners in Maple Lake, led by Spanish teacher and student council adviser Kim Fynboh, followed the Norwalk plan. The seniors (two of whom were unable to attend) sat next to each other at a long table, with placards noting their name, their college and their area of study. Also at each spot was a “letter of intent” for them to sign. The letter read in part: “I declare a desire to teach and make an impact upon our future generations.”

Math teacher Casey Pack and social studies teacher Steve Kosloski made brief remarks before the students signed their letters.

“It’s exciting to recognize these individuals as future teachers,” Pack said. “The education field is a rewarding profession. Choosing a future as a teacher means you choose to impact students every day. Deciding to major in the education field requires being a special individual; like surgeons who are skilled with their hands, teachers have the skills to mold students and inspire them. These future educators have all the skills to become the next generation of great teachers.

“Most adults can name a teacher, from their own time as a student, who influenced them. It is rewarding as a teacher and as a staff to think we might have been an influence on these students choosing to become education majors. Congratulations to these individuals on deciding to impact students for years to come.”

Kosloski talked about the impact teachers make on their students.

“Each year provides the opportunity to make a positive impact on this community’s most important asset, its kids. Teaching is much more than delivering content and testing kids on what they have learned. Providing quality academic instruction is vital to this position, but if students don’t feel valued they will not learn. Each kid is unique in their drive and aspirations, but all kids need someone in their corner who believes in them.

“Kids who come from supportive family structures rely on teachers to continue to guide them toward their goals. Students coming from uncertainty on the home front look to educators for far more. Being an ally to these young people is in my opinion the most important aspect in the field of education. Getting to know kids and what makes them tick goes a long way in getting them to buy into the idea that learning is important. Taking the time to show that you care about these kids stokes the fire to help them on their educational journey. I am honored to be here, talking to my future colleagues.”

The students -- Quinn Youngs, Mollie Scheiber, Cole Trager, Megan Wassermann, Kyle Scherber, Miles Brown and Zachary Eder – will attend St. Cloud State, Minnesota-Duluth, Minnesota State Mankato, Augsburg and Martin Luther College. Their parents, grandparents and fellow students applauded as they signed their letters. They posed for photos and smiled on their special, well-deserved day.

After learning about the event in Iowa last spring, Fynboh and other teachers in Maple Lake put their heads together.

“A couple of teachers and I were talking and we said, ‘Maybe we should try that next year during Teacher Appreciation Week,’ ” Fynhoh said. “So after spring break we got everything organized and figured out who is going into teaching.”

It was hard to know who wore the biggest smiles Thursday morning, the future educators or the veteran educators.

“Oh, there’s a lot of pride. It’s awesome,” Fynboh said. “You don’t go into teaching for the money. It’s for the kids.”

--To see a photo gallery, go to the MSHSL Facebook page.

Follow John on Twitter: @MSHSLjohn
For Melrose And Sauk Centre It’s More Than A Game5/9/2018
SAUK CENTRE – The V Foundation for Cancer Research is based in Cary, North Carolina. It was named for Jim Valvano, the college basketball coach and broadcaster who died of cancer in 1993 at age 47. More than 1,300 miles separate Cary and Sauk Centre, but the V Foundation and its mission to conquer cancer were the focus of a softball game played here Tuesday in central Minnesota.

Each year since 2014, Sauk Centre has hosted Melrose in a softball game billed as a Strike Out Cancer fundraiser for the V Foundation. The latest version, which ended in a 3-2 victory for Melrose, was filled with pregame pomp and in-game excitement.

In the winter prior to the 2014 season, two losses struck hard in Sauk Centre. Just days apart, Mainstreeters softball coach T.J. Schmiesing’s mother, Aloise, died of lung cancer and player Emily Winters' mother, Susan, died from pancreatic cancer. The annual Strike Out Cancer game was soon a reality. Players on both teams sell multi-colored rubber bracelets bearing the words “Strike Out Cancer” … the fundraising total reached $10,000 this year.

“It means a lot to me,” Schmiesing said. “The girls do an excellent job in selling the wrist bands, it’s such a great thing these girls do and the school does for us to put this on, for a great research foundation like the V Foundation. Every dollar is spent for cancer research. It’s definitely something the girls are proud of every year and take a lot of pride in.”

One of the dominant colors Tuesday was, not surprisingly, pink. Players on both teams wore pink stripes on their cheeks, with the Mainstreeters adding a streak of black. The Sauk Centre players also wore bright pink socks.

Pregame was impressive, since the event also was Mom’s Night for the Mainstreeters. All the junior-varsity and varsity players and their mothers were introduced, and they stood along the first-base line while the Melrose Dutchmen stood on the third-base line. Then came two things that were simply magical.

First, Marty Saletti, a talented musician from Melrose, stood between home plate and the pitching circle, knocking out a phenomenal version of the Star Spangled Banner on his saxophone. And then Helen Miller walked out on the field.

Helen is a 1954 Sauk Centre graduate and lifelong Mainstreeters backer. She attended school before girls sports were available, but she has always been a familiar face at sporting and school events of all kinds. After being diagnosed with colon cancer, she has undergone several surgeries and chemo treatments over the last year.

When the time came, Helen sent a nice underhand toss to home plate, where Kenzie Schmiesing made a clean catch. Kenzie, Emily Gapinski and Kailyn Seidel jogged out to the circle and embraced Helen in a big group hug.

The game was well-played, with Sauk Centre leading 2-0 through six innings. The Dutchmen scored their three in the top of the seventh to get the win, and then came the handshake line and the familiar refrain of “good game … good game … good game.”

Like all spring sports, softball is in a pickle after the extended winter. Teams are playing rescheduled games at a frantic pace. Sauk Centre is playing seven games this week alone; They had finished 15 games by Tuesday but had held only three outdoor practices. Melrose had played six games the previous week and five the week before that. Tuesday’s weather was a bit chilly, with some fans watching from underneath blankets, but rain stayed away.

“It’s always a super-friendly, tight competition between us and Sauk Centre,” said Melrose coach Kristie Ekstrom.

The most important thing, however, was the experience as well as the end result: thousands of dollars for cancer research.

“It is important for them,” Ekstrom said of the players. “They love being part of this and being able to support this.”

That message was heard all the way across the country in Cary, North Carolina.

Good game indeed.

--To see a photo gallery, go to the MSHSL Facebook page.

Follow John on Twitter: @MSHSLjohn