As a wise man (a former co-worker of mine named Sid Hartman) once said, “There’s a lot of stuff on that Internet.” That is a true statement, but it’s a lot more fun seeing real things and real people with your real eyes at real events ... and sometimes seeing reaction on the Internet
So far this week, I’ve been watching the girls state tennis tournament and girls and boys state soccer quarterfinals while football playoffs also are underway. I’ve lost track of how many tennis matches I’ve seen at the Class 1A and 2A sites in Minneapolis but through three days of soccer I’ve watched a total of six games, with doubleheaders at Prior Lake, Farmington and St. Cloud State. Those experiences, coupled with some stuff posted on that stuff-filled Internet, have made for an interesting few days. Here are some snippets…
*Visitation and Blake played scoreless girls soccer through 80 minutes of regulation time and two 10-minute overtime periods, leading to a penalty-kick shootout. Visitation scored on all five of its kicks, Blake was good on three kicks and the Blazers advanced to next week’s state semifinals at U.S. Bank Stadium. It’s only the second trip to state for Visitation and the first since 2001. The postgame scenes can be summed up by these two: The winning team posing for a photo on the field, then erupting in screams and hugs, with some members of the losing squad bursting into sobs as they were embraced by their parents.
*A Twitter message from @triplebillphoto arrived with this update from another soccer site: “Mankato West band just played ‘Ghost Riders in the Sky.’ ”
*The MSHSL’s Thank A Ref initiative has been gaining ground throughout the fall season. We always need more officials in all sports on all levels and it’s important to show our appreciation for those who choose to work with our youth. Also, people who abuse officials need to be reminded when their behavior goes over the line. That happened during a soccer game in Prior Lake when fans sitting in front of the press box began barking at the officials. The stadium announcer leaned out of his booth and told those people to pipe down or they would be removed. That’s another good reminder that we’re all in this together and we all need to speak up when poor sportsmanship is clear.
*In a related note, an important Tweet was issued by @FHSBerg (Farmington High School principal Jason Berg, also an MSHSL football official). He wrote: “FHS - how do you represent our school/community on the field/in the stands - let's be the solution and not part of the problem. #TigerPride” The Tweet was linked to a story from an Indiana newspaper about the relationship between abusive fans and a lack of officials. School administrators are on the front line when it comes to sportsmanship, and it’s always great when they take these messages directly to their students and adult fans and make everyone accountable for taking the high road.
*Hats off to the football team from Wadena-Deer Creek. The Wolverines defeated Staples-Motley 42-20 in the Class 2A Section 6 playoffs on Tuesday night, ending a 19-year string of postseason losses.
*Is there a better high school spot than Farmington’s Tiger Stadium? The playing field is in a bowl setting, with the high school standing sentry behind the south end zone. After dark, the giant eyes of a tiger painted behind a glass wall stare out at the field.
*The girls and boys state tennis tournaments are unlike any others for one reason: The players make the calls on whether balls are in or out. It’s the old-fashioned honor system and it’s a great testament to Minnesota kids.
*I issued this Tweet Tuesday evening and it was re-Tweeted hundreds of times: “Best Thing I Saw Today: After Bemidji soccer loss, mom hugs her son before he heads toward team bus: ‘See you at home. I love you.’ ”
*After the Willmar football team saw its season end with a narrow playoff loss to Rocori, a senior named Tayler Tjaden Tweeted about his feelings. His statement included these words: “Tonight we Seniors shed tears for more than merely losing a game. … We cry because we will never have the opportunity to make more memories with our teammates. We cry because we remember the brotherhood and camaraderie that we experienced. We cry because this is the last time we will suit up in the red and white of the Willmar Cardinals.” Well put, Tayler.
*When Hutchinson’s football team defeated New Ulm 44-20 on Tuesday, it was the 1,000th all-time game for the Hutch Tigers. And the head coaches for 580 of those games are the father-son duo of Grady and Andy Rostberg. Grady (now retired) coached 367 games and Andy (current coach) has coached 213 games.
*Participants in the girls (and boys in the spring) state tennis tournaments are very fortunate to work with Hal Miller, who lives in Alexandria. Hal, a longtime teacher and coach who was inducted into the MSHSL Hall of Fame in 2015, has been a site manager for girls and boys state tennis tournaments for 32 years, and this week’s girls tournament is his 63nd in that role. He stresses sportsmanship as well as fun when talking with the players, and repeat qualifiers always enjoy seeing him again.
*Finally, a postscript to the previous John’s Journal story about Bemidji senior Linaes Whiting, who competed on three teams (soccer, football, cross-country) this fall. I posted my story about Linaes after their state quarterfinal overtime soccer loss to Austin on Tuesday evening. A little later, Linaes posted a message on Twitter:
“I’d like to thank all of my teammates, coaches, family, teachers, and friends during the last few fall seasons. It’s been so much fun playing with all of you and I wouldn’t have changed anything. … I’d also like to thank John for the nice article which hopefully will inspire other kids to go out and participate in lots of sports, instead of specialize in one. I truly believe being on all these teams have made me a better person, developing friendships, finding ways to face adversity, and becoming the best person I can be.”
Linaes’ important message was re-Tweeted many, many times and led to lots of positive responses. Then there was this Tweet, which came from Bemidji swimming and diving coach Woody Leindecker: “I wonder if he can swim?”
Don’t bet against him.Follow John on Twitter: @MSHSLjohn