SPORTS FEEVER – August 6, 2020

Wow!!!  What a day or two.

How about those Minnesota Twins.  They are 10-2 and off to the best start in team history.  They have the best record in baseball.  They are getting great pitching, hitting, and defense!
The Twins have an advantage by playing all their games vs A.L. Central and N.L. Central teams.
The Twins are on pace to go 50-10 on the year.

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I want to start off with the news that broke on Wednesday.  The Breckenridge School District has decided to part ways with Breckenridge Boys Basketball Coach Arly Ohm.  This is one of the last things I expected to hear this summer.

You have an outstanding coach that turned Breckenridge into one of the premier teams in Section 8AA.  You have a guy that not only expected the best from his players on the court, but expected the kids to be even better young men off the court.  It is baffling that anyone, let alone a school board/administration, would part ways with someone that makes every kid that goes through the program a better person because of it.  Oh, and by the way, they win a lot and play the game the right away.

It is a sad day and whoever is behind the decision……(I will take the high road).

Coach Ohm had a winning percentage over 70 percent since taking over in 2017.   His team won two Section Championships in three years.

Some of the responses from other coaches in the section –

Hawley Boys Basketball Coach Nathan Stoa
The HOL and Minnesota basketball was better with you on the sidelines.

Perham Boys Basketball Coach Dave Cresap –
Arly & I have competed against each other on and off since 1995. He is one of the hardest workers, & most well-prepared coaches in the business. Yes, he has high expectations of his players, but he cares about his kids. If coaches can’t have high expectations, why do we coach?

From the North Dakota School of Science Men’s Basketball program twitter account
You did a tremendous job, coach. You always represented the program and community well!!

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The Minnesota State High School League announced what fall sports will likely look like this school year.  I was on the conference call for almost four hours on Tuesday and listened to all the discussion, all the votes, and everything else that happened during the meeting.

Here are some takeaways from my four hours of listening.

  • There was some spirited conversation with the pros and cons of each decision.
  • “This isn’t an easy decision” and “We have to do what is best for the kids” was said over and over.
  • I am glad I am not on the MSHSL board having to make this difficult decision!

I talked with Roseau School District Superintendent Tom Jerome, who is the Minnesota State High School Executive Board Vice President and asked him about the vote on Tuesday to have football in the spring.  He told me –
“Being from Northern Minnesota, I am acutely aware of the inherent difficulties our member schools and programs will experience as it relates to weather and field conditions this spring in relation to Football. However, based on information I had….vote was made to preserve the best possible opportunity for a football season to occur.”

In case you have been hiding under a rock, here is what the MSHSL decided –

Boys and Girls Soccer will be held in the fall, while Football and Volleyball has been moved to the spring (March 15 to May 15).  Girls Tennis, Girls Swimming, and Cross Country have been approved by a 17-1 vote.
If schools conduct distance learning, they wouldn’t be able to compete until they move to hybrid or in-person schooling.  The sports would be limited to one to two events per week.  Scrimmages won’t be allowed and competition would be limited to local/regional events to limit travel for the teams.

The MSHSL will go with a “four-season” plan for the 2020-21 school year.  Fall and winter as scheduled, spring (Volleyball and football) from mid-March to mid-May, and “summer” (original spring sports) from May until late June/early July. The four seasons are listed below –

Fall Sports season – (Starting August 17) –  Boys and girls soccer, girls tennis, girls swimming, cross country
Winter sports (start dates and seasons to be determined) – Boys and girls basketball, boys and girls hockey, wrestling, dance
4th season (Starting date to be determined, but mid-March to mid-May is likely) – Football and Volleyball
Spring sports (starting early May and running until late June/early July) – Baseball, softball, boys and girls track, boys tennis, boys and girls golf.

Information on team sports – 

FOOTBALL – The vote to have football in the fall failed 12-6.
The vote to have football in the spring passed 13-5.  The vote will move to the spring with hopes of more fans in the stands and a more authentic playoff experience.  The season would be a 6 game regular season with playoffs spanning 12 weeks (Season would start March 15.  Play local opponents.

VOLLEYBALL – A vote to move the season to the spring failed with an even tie of 9-9.
A second motion was made to keep Volleyball in the fall and that failed 10-8.
A motion to reconsider Volleyball in the spring was made and passed 11-7.
A vote to make the original motion to hold Volleyball in the spring passed 11-7.
Volleyball will be moved to the spring.  Reduction of contests by 30 percent and the length of the season by 20 percent. Matches would be local/regional opponents only.  Shifting Volleyball to the spring to give the option of a traditional state tournament and possibly have fans in the stands.  The season is proposed to run March 15 to May 15.

BOYS AND GIRLS SOCCER – August 17 practice start date with reduction of contests by 30 percent and the length of the season by 20 percent.  Keep games local/within the conference.  No scrimmages would be allowed.  Limit of one to two games allowed per week.  No captains practice.  Section and state tournaments are TBD.  The motion passed 18-0.

GIRLS TENNIS – Practice would start August 17. Reduce matches by 30 percent and the length of the season by 20 percent.  No events larger than a triangular will be allowed.  Singles and doubles matches would be played at all levels (Varsity, Junior Varsity, and Junior High). Section and state tournaments are TBD. No scrimmages allowed. No captains practice.

GIRLS SWIMMING – Practice would start August 17.  Any indoor sport held in the spring will not allow spectators at this point.  Competitions will be limited to two teams.  No big invites or true team competitions.  Contests are local or within the conference only.  Reduce meets by 30 percent and the length of the season by 20 percent.  Section and state tournaments are TBD. No captains practice.

CROSS COUNTRY – Practice would start August 17.  Reduce contests by 30 percent and the length of the season by 20 percent.  No more than two or three teams on the course at a time.  Complications at the starting line and finish line were discussed and safe ways to conduct the start of the race are being discussed.  Allow Varsity, Junior Varsity, C Squad, and Junior High.  Section and state tournaments are TBD. No captains practice.

Background information –
In July a task force was created to look at the best way to offer activities this fall.  They focused on sport-specific areas and reviewed other state organizations and their guidelines.  The task force used the State of Minnesota’s return to learn model as a guide.

Other notes –
Volleyball and Football teams will be able to practice in the fall.  How many times and when will be decided by the eligibility committee at a later date.  When it is announced we will let you know.

State tournament programs will be offered online only in an effort to save money.  It will save the MSHSL an estimated $125,000 to $175,000 a year.

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I have asked several area football and volleyball coaches for their thoughts.

Red Lake County (Red Lake Falls/Plummer/Oklee) Football Coach Brian Remick said –
It is hard to see the move as we are so used to having fall football… and the fact is we can push everything back and say there will be a vaccine or things will be better by spring but at the end of the day, we don’t know how this will end.  Playing in April/May isn’t that big of a deal.  The biggest issue will be the fields.  Do we need to snow blow them off?  How wet or muddy will they be?  You destroy them now will there be enough time to recover for the fall of 2021?  Fields like ours in RLF is also the baseball field so destroying it in April affects baseball in June.  So those are questions we will need to deal with. Getting good practice time this fall will be very important, so I await the guidelines on that.  At the end of the day the kids want a season, we are in a historical moment, so we adjust as we need to make it happen.  Our very few turf fields in the area could get a workout this spring.

Polk County West (Climax-Fisher-Sacred Heart) Football Coach Darrin Byklum said –
I wasn’t surprised by the move to the spring, was hoping to have football this fall. Glad the seniors will still have a chance to play their final season. The short season is better than no season! It will be very different to start the year not coaching football. We will get through it and hope to have football back in the fall next season!!

East Grand Forks Green Wave Football Coach Ryan Kasowski said –
Hey Chris, We were prepared for three scenarios (play in the fall, move to the Spring, or cancel the season). What I have tried to stress to the team, and they all agree, is that at least we are being given the chance to play football this year. That is the biggest thing for our student-athletes, who have worked so hard that they will still get that opportunity to play this great game. Kids adapt and are resilient. We know we are going to face challenges and adversity like we have never faced before, but we will get through it together.

Barnesville Trojan Football Coach Bryan Strand said –
Hey Chris, It is what it is, they made the decision the best they could.  I don’t necessarily agree but I am sure I am not alone.  I think with face shields, gator face coverings, and gloves a football player can be protected as well as in any sport.  A regular play in football goes for about 4-6 seconds at the most, each team runs about 60 plays on average, so if a kid only played offense they would be in direct contact with a person for less than 6 minutes and probably closer to 5.  Some kids of course not getting close enough to another person such as safeties, corners, WR’s, etc.  I thought it could be done, but that is just my opinion, they did the best they could with the information they had.  Just not sure how a football season can fit into 8 weeks at the end of winter….  We will continue to practice and get better and work our butts off to be ready come March 15th!  The kids and parents will do whatever it takes to have a successful and healthy season.  I thought the better plan would be to put baseball, softball, track, and golf in the fall since most of the sports the kids have been doing all summer anyways and they also didn’t get their season last year, why not if it could be done do it.  The whole thing is frustrating, but I respect those that have the tough decisions to make and they are doing their best to make good choices.

Crookston Pirate Football Coach Scott Butt said –
The move is kind of a surprise on one hand and expected on the other.  I think there are still a lot of unanswered questions that coaches have. The biggest problem I see with the spring, is the weather and fields. Teams with grass fields are going to have a tough time playing home games. It looks like renting fields with turf will be hard on budgets.
The fact that we can practice this fall is nice so we can try and get some stuff done.
I think we just have to make the best of it and move on.

Mahnomen High School Activity Director and Mahnomen/Waubun Thunderbird Football Coach John Clark Jr. said – 
Thanks for asking, I guess I will have to give you the PG version!  Not sure where to start.
I realize the board had a very difficult decision to make and had no chance to please all involved.  The positives we can take out of this include:  It looks as though all sports will get some kind of season; at least we now have a decision and are no longer in limbo in whether we would have fall seasons or not; it does buy some time to hopefully get this virus under control or at least have a better understanding of it.  With that said, I really question some of the supposed rationale used to make the decisions.  For example, we allow the swimming season to go on as scheduled but not volleyball?  Not sure I see a major difference in those two as both are indoor sports as I see it.  Plus the fact, that we are currently playing AAU basketball tournaments in our state and I’m getting set to go to basketball league in a couple of hours?   And I’ve heard of volleyball club tournaments and other scrimmages currently being played.   Not sure how these things are safer than a volleyball season?  Also, Soccer can be played but not football?   Both outdoor, team sports in my eyes.

As far as the spring season, I think volleyball will be able to adapt fairly easily.  Practice and game conditions won’t change.  Football on the other hand will be a mess.  I question whether the decision-makers realize we will have a foot of snow on the ground in our area in the middle of March.  Obviously, that makes it tough to practice let alone play games.  And how does that affect junior high and younger programs?   We’ve worked awfully hard to make football a safer game the past few years, I’m worried that hard work will be for naught if we try to rush into an abbreviated season and try to cram it in on snow/ice-covered fields.

I worry that our true spring sports will take a hit in participation.   Those kids and coaches lost their entire season last spring and now they get pushed back again.  Will having to go into summer deter a lot of kids from participating?  We are already seeing declining participation in our spring sports and I can see this situation making it even worse.

My biggest gripe is that the league formed a task force to dive into this situation and come up with recommendations.  From what I’m hearing, those recommendations weren’t followed.   Why then did they have a task force at all.  I know the task force put a lot of time and effort into this process.  And for what?  I hope I’m off base on this and the directors used the information from the task force but I have my doubts.

In the end, I’m pleased that all sports will have a season.  They need that for their mental health.  I know first hand how sports can impact kids’ lives in our area so I’m thankful they will all get an opportunity to participate in their respective sports.  Kids are resilient and will adapt ok in my opinion.  The coaches and adults will probably have a harder time!
Stay safe!

Stephen-Argyle Storm Football Coach Ethan Marquis said –
Hi Chris,
I was surprised by the decision.  It’s tough to imagine football on March 15th because of the cold and snow that will almost certainly be a factor for a large portion of the state.
With good fortune maybe it could work fine, but usually at that date, we still have much remaining snow and multiple snow days still to come.  I was surprised that there didn’t seem to be much discussion on that.  Also, there didn’t seem to be any consideration for an intermediate option.  Maybe a September 15th-November 15th season could have been considered with a back-up option of March-May?  I’m sure there is information that I don’t have that would explain these questions but it’s too bad it wasn’t made more clear.

Regardless, we’ll plan to move forward as best we can.  We’ll wrap up summer workouts soon and then try to gather the best info we can to make a plan for going forward.  My understanding is that both spring and fall sports practices will be allowed, but not competitions.  Hopefully, that plus training workouts will allow the students a chance for some fun and improvement.  Any type of allowed competition would really improve the fall situation but I’m guessing that is unlikely.  At the moment there is a lot of disappointment. Hopefully, the virus dangers lessen and we can have a normal winter season.  Then hopefully a nice early spring and get to business in March.  It’s going to be a strange and busy year.  I hope things work out favorably for all the area schools and we’re able to fit everything in.
Go Storm.

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If any coaches want to add your thoughts, email me at and I will get it on next week!!

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I also reached out to several area high school volleyball coaches.  There thoughts are below –

Crookston Pirate Volleyball Coach Ashley Stopa – 
I feel disappointed but at the same time, I knew it wouldn’t be a traditional fall season. I still appreciate the chance to play later in the spring and not have to compete with other sports seasons.  The move might also allow for a better experience than the fall as the guidelines for fans might be different by the spring. This is also a unique opportunity for girls to try a new sport without giving up volleyball! I appreciate the care and thought the MSHSL put into ensuring the safety of athletes. It also ensures players would be given an opportunity to return to the court.

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I received the following email from a concerned parent –

Hi Chris,

I wanted to express some disappointment with MSHSL decisions regarding school sports. Realizing there are many considerations and leaders had to make decisions, I do feel the spring sports for 2020 got essentially erased as they had no season at all and now appears to be moved to the summer of 2021.

As the father of a kid who did well in the spring sport, he will have missed almost two years of his sport. He has some plans (if COVID19 allows) to go to Europe in June 2021 and he is a kid who works all summer. It does seem MSHSL was more concerned about multi-sports athletes getting to play all their sports and no accommodation for those spring sports in 2020 to get some kind coaching/participation/exposure in that two-year absence.

We were looking forward to seeing what he would do in the spring of 2020. He had hoped to do well enough to be considered at a college level but now we are wondering how colleges will look at spring sport athletes? Using his measures as a young high school sophomore? His college of choice will be made more on academics but he was interested in participating in his spring sport as part of his considerations.

Again, COVID19 is affecting many people in many dangerous ways. I just needed a place to vent my disappointment to SOMEONE who might have a voice. Not that I expect anything to change nor does Greg Garman as an athletic director need another parent bending his ear. It does seem that promising spring sports athletes got no accommodation for a missed season. I’m simply feeling sad for my kid.

Thanks for listening.

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What other state high school leagues have announced so far –

Arizona (Golf – Aug. 24; Badminton – Aug. 31; All other fall sports – week of Sept. 7)
California (December 2020 or January 2021)
Colorado (Boys Golf – August 3; Boys Tennis – August 10; Cross Country – August 12; Football – February 22; Field Hockey, Gymnastics, Boys Soccer, Unified Bowling and Girls Volleyball – March 1)
Connecticut (August 17)
District of Columbia (January 4)
Florida (August 24)
Illinois (Boys/Girls Golf, Girls Tennis, Boys/Girls Cross Country, and Girls Swimming and Diving – August 10; Boys Soccer, Football and Girls Volleyball – Spring 2021)
Iowa (The IHSAA announced a revised seven-week regular season football schedule running from August 28 through October 9.)
Hawaii (August 19)
Georgia (The Georgia High School Association postponed the start of football season until September 4.)
Kentucky (August 24; The golf season schedule is unchanged.)
Maine (September 8)
Maryland (Fall and winter competition seasons postponed during the first semester)
Massachusetts (September 14)
Minnesota (Cross Country, Tennis, Soccer, and Swimming and Diving – August 17; Football and Volleyball – Spring 2021)
Mississippi (August 10; Football starts August 17)
Nevada (Winter sports January 2; Fall sports February 20; Spring sports April 3)
New Hampshire (September 8)
New Jersey (September 14)
New Mexico  (The NMAA, through Governor recommendations, canceled contact sports competition for the fall. As a result, the 2020 football and soccer seasons have been switched to the spring semester.)
New York (Not before September 21)
North Carolina (September 1)
Oregon (August 17; Football prohibited until further notice)
Pennsylvania (The PIAA has offered flexibility to schools, leagues, and/or conferences with three different start dates; August 20 (regular start) to September 14 (alternate start) and no later than October 5.)
Rhode Island (September 14)
South Carolina (Girls Golf, Swimming and Diving, and Girls Tennis – August 17; Cross Country and Volleyball – August 24; Competitive Cheer and Football – September 8.)
Texas (August 3 for conferences 1A-4A football and volleyball; conferences 5A-6A start September 7)
Virginia (December 14)
Washington (September 7)
West Virginia (August 17)
Wisconsin (Girls golf, girls tennis, girls swimming and diving, and boys and girls cross country August 17; Football, boys soccer, boys and girls volleyball September 7)

The following states will not play football this fall.
District of Columbia
New Mexico

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Fall sports in Division II and the NSIC looks like it won’t happen now.

On Wednesday (August 5) the NCAA Division II Presidents Council announced it is canceling its seven fall championships.

The Board of Governors directed each division to meet various requirements to compete in the fall. Those directives include that all member institutions apply the re-socialization principles to fall sports and set a 50% sponsorship threshold for a fall sport championship to be conducted, among other requirements. As of Wednesday, 11 of the 23 Division II conferences had announced they will not compete during the traditional fall season.

The NSIC recently decided to delay the start of its fall sports seasons. The NSIC has an athletic administrators meeting scheduled for Thursday (August 6) and Presidents and athletic administrators next week.

NSIC Commissioner Erin Lind said – “The NSIC will continue to navigate the impact the pandemic will have on conference competition in the coming days. My heart hurts for the outstanding young women and men who compete in fall sports. WE will get through this!”

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The Big Ten Conference announced today that the Big Ten Council of Presidents and Chancellors has approved plans for the 2020 football season, including a 10-game Conference-only schedule beginning as early as the weekend of September 5.  The Minnesota Golden Gophers are scheduled to start the season at Michigan State on September 5.

— — —

NCAA Division III championships for fall sports in 2020-21 are canceled, the Division III Presidents Council announced Wednesday.  It isn’t a big surprise and doesn’t affect the MIAC because they had already postponed their fall sports to the spring.

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How are former Crookston Pirates athletes doing in college or elsewhere?

Paul Bittner is playing for the Cleveland Monsters, the AHL affiliate of the Columbus Bluejacket.

Brady Heppner, is playing hockey for the Roanoke Raildogs in the SPHL.

Aleece Durbin, is a Sophomore on the University of North Dakota Women’s Track and Field team.

Brita Fagerlund, is a Junior on the University of Jamestown Jimmy Women’s Track team.

Ben Trostad is a sophomore member of the University of Minnesota Crookston golf team.

Isaac Westlake, is a Senior on the Winona State Warrior Men’s Golf team.

Elise Tangquist, is a Junior golfer for the University of Northwestern in St. Paul.

Mason LaPlante, a freshman, is playing soccer at the University of Jamestown.

Rachel Hefta, a freshman, is playing volleyball at Hastings College in Nebraska.

Cade Salentine is a redshirt Freshman playing football at the University of North Dakota

Nick Garmen, is a freshman playing basketball and tennis at the University of Minnesota Morris.

Thea Oman, a freshman, is swimming at St. Ben’s.

Crookston School District Coaches –
Jeremy Lubinski
 is a Pirate 8th Grade Football coach.
Amy Boll 
is the head Pirate Girls Track head coach and assistant volleyball coach
Sarah Reese 
is the Pirate Head Girls Soccer coach
Cody Brekken
 is the Head Pirate Girls and Boys Tennis coach and Crookston Community Pool Supervisor
Marley Melbye is the Head Girls Swimming coach
Mitch Bakken is the head Pirate Baseball coach.
Brock Hanson
 is the Pirate Baseball volunteer assistant coach.
Jeff Perreault 
is the Pirate Girls Golf head coach
Wes Hanson is the Pirate Wrestling Head Coach and assistant boys golf coach
Kevin Weber is a Pirate Boys Basketball volunteer assistant coach
Connor Morgan is the Pirate Boys Hockey assistant coach
Sam Melbye is the Pirate Boys J.V. Hockey coach
Chris Dufault is a youth wrestling Coach
Blake Fee is an assistant wrestling coach
Colton Weiland is an assistant wrestling coach

Non-Crookston High School coaching –

Cody Weiland is an assistant wrestling coach at Proctor/Hermantown

Kaylee Desrosier is a softball coach for Fargo Davies Middle School.

Justin Johnson is an assistant softball coach at the University of Minnesota Crookston.

Josh Edlund  is an assistant football coach and phy ed teacher at Flandreau, South Dakota.

Allison Lindsey Axness is Assistant Varsity Volleyball Coach in Champlin Park

Jeff Olson is Head Wrestling coach and Head Baseball coach at Delano.

Jake Olson is an Assistant Football Coach and Head Boys Tennis coach at Delano.

Carmen (Kreibich) Johnson, is Head Volleyball coach at Little Falls High School.

Katy Westrom, is Head Girls Tennis Coach and Head Boys Tennis coach at Monticello High School.

Matt Harris, is a Director of Athletics at the British International School of Houston.

Marty Bratrud is the Superintendent and High School Principal at Westhope High School.

Gordie Haug is an assistant football coach at the University of Wyoming

Mike Hastings is the Minnesota State Mankato Men’s head Hockey coach

Mike Biermaier is the Athletic Director at Thief River Falls High School

Stephanie (Lindsay) Perreault works with the North Dakota State stats crew for Bison football and volleyball and basketball in the winter. Stephanie’s husband, Ryan, is the assistant director for the Bison media relations

Jason Bushie is the hockey athletic trainer at Colorado College

Chris Myrold is a Tennis Pro on Nevis Island in the West Indies

Kyle Buchmeier
 is a Tennis Pro at the Reed-Sweatt Family Tennis Center in Minneapolis

Jarrett Butenhoff is serving our country with the U.S. Navy

Joshua Butenhoff is serving our country on a Submarine with the Pacific Fleet with the US Navy.

Peter Cournia is a 2002 Crookston High School Graduate and also a grad of West Point and is currently is serving in the U.S. Army.

Erik Ellingson is serving our country with the U.S. Air Force at Minot.

Philip Kujawa class of 2004 from Crookston High School.  He is an Army recruiter in Rochester.

Scott Riopelle is head of Crookston Parks and Recreation

Rob Sobolik is the General Manager of the Fargodome

That’s it for this week.  Thanks for the comments and if you have anything to add or share, please e-mail or call.  Thanks for reading and listening to KROX RADIO and