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The following letter was written to Minneapolis Washburn girls basketball coach Tylor Coley following a game at Waconia on Feb. 16, 2016.

Coach Coley,

I attended the game last night between Washburn and Waconia, and feel compelled to write you this morning. Iíve attended hundreds of games as Principal at Waconia High School, but last nightís game was truly memorable.

Iíd like to congratulate you and your girls for playing the game hard and fair. Your girls continued to play tenaciously even with a short bench, against a deep team with a hot shooting hand. You, and your staff, continued to coach, teach, and encourage your athletes, even as they fell behind.

However, the game will be unforgettable to me for another reason. Iím virtually certain that no one in attendance last night will remember the final score, and many will even forget the outcome, but no one will forget the incredible display of sportsmanship and spirit of the game shown by you and your girls. Your teamís role in getting our athlete into the scorebook (twice) serves as a reminder that basketball is just a game, and the lessons learned about life and compassion are independent of the final score.

I know your team is struggling through a difficult season, and there are some who will say adversity and difficult losses build character. I donít buy it. I believe adversity and difficult losses reveal character, and you and your team were revealed as true winners last night, a true class act. Even as a crusty 22-year veteran principal, I can honestly admit I had tears in my eyes at the conclusion of the game. Tears at the excitement of our girls for a teammate, and tears for the recognition of your team that they had just been part of something bigger than the game.

Good luck on the remainder of your season.


Mark Fredericksen
Waconia High School Principal

The following was sent to Duluth East Activities Director Shawn Roed and Geryhounds' boys hockey coach Mike Randolph:

I wanted to take a minute and compliment your boy's hockey team and how they treated my son last weekend. I grew up playing against Duluth East teams, and you were always tough, physical teams to play against.

We live in Eden Prairie, and my 3-year-old son is obsessed with hockey. He loves nothing more than being at the arena or skating.

We were at the Eden Prairie vs. Duluth East game last weekend. We were standing on the end of the rink as your players came out for warm-ups and before the game.

Without prompting, your entire team came over and gave our son giant high fives. With each one, his smile got bigger and bigger. After the game, that was all he could talk about.

I used to coach a high school team in the metro and never fully realized the impact the players can have on kids. Your players coming up to our son made him feel like a hero.

I hope my sharing this with the two of you will help you realize the positive impact your players can have. It is a testament to the quality work you're doing.

And now you have made some new fans in the metro. We look forward to watching you again come section time.

Jeff Neidt
From veteran football official Tim Litfin:

(Buffalo) head coach Todd Bouman and his assistant (Nick Guida), and all the coaches on the Buffalo football team are making a difference.

I saw it up close and personal as a referee on Sept. 11, 2015.

The scoreboard is not the only measurement in any sport and it certainly wasn't on this night. If it was, we would see very few people and teams ever recognized.

I had the pleasure of officiating two outstanding high school football teams who are educationally sound on the field, competitive, good sports and who are playing for all of the right reasons.

Those schools are Rogers and Buffalo. Rogers is a great team in every way. Head coach Mark Franz is optimistic and his players are always good sports. They are ranked, they are competitive and they are fun to officiate.

Rogers defeated Buffalo on the scoreboard 49-6, but Buffalo was not defeated in any other way. As the referee (white hat), I occasionally hear player-to-player conversation in the huddle as the huddle is located close to where we position ourselves between plays.

Though the scoreboard was tilting in favor of Rogers, that did not deter Buffalo players from continuing to communicate with each other, from lifting each other up and supporting each other after plays on the field the entire game.

The players were positive and optimistic throughout.

Coach communication and positive instruction kept coming the players' way the entire game. There was no head-shaking or head-dropping from anyone that I could see on or off the field.

After the game, the players had the traditional midfield exchange of "nice game."

Head coach Todd Bouman and assistant coach Nick Guida from Buffalo came and found each one of the five officials on my crew. They personally thanked us and congratulated us for officiating a good game.

What a classy move and an awesome example of character and true sportsmanship.

From football official Allen Mensinger:

There was an excellent display of sportsmanship during a football game between Crosby-Ironton and Moose Lake/Willow River.

The outcome of the game had been decided when ML/WR substituted a special-needs student-athlete in the final minute.

A Crosby-Ironton player (Matt Stangel) and his coach (Mike Gingdorff) recognized the limitations of the player and proceeded to gently engage the opponent on several successful plays.

This was an outstanding example of sportsmanship. I complimented (Stangel) after the game and also thanked the coach.

I also think ML/WR should be given credit for extending opportunities for all athletes.

The game was already a pleasure to officiate with excellent sportsmanship on each sideline.

However, the sportsmanship exhibited at the end made it a memorable experience for our crew.
Dear Diary,

What a great night I had last night working in Litchfield at the volleyball match against Maple Lake.It went four games.

I don't remember the scores, just that it was a close, competitive environment. The teams played hard, the student body was well represented with spectators dressed up in all sorts of fun outfits to support their team, and the music was playing loud.

What fun!

But what I can't stop thinking about is the growth I witnessed. There was a play at the net and both teams were reaching above it to play the ball.

The ball went out of bounds on Litchfield's side. I looked at my partner and both line judges, and we all agreed that the ball was out because of Maple Lake's last contact.

After making the call, and giving the point to Litchfield, I saw that the Litchfield coach was shaking his head, holding up his arm and rubbing his fingers together, telling me one of HIS players had touched the ball.

I scanned the court and one of his players was raising her hand and nodding her head, then patted her chest, as if to say, "I did it".

I called the floor captain over, and she confirmed that they wanted me to change the call because they hadn't earned that point. I reversed the call and gave Maple Lake the point and serve.

Then I looked at the Maple Lake coach.

He was looking right at the Litchfield coach and mouthed the word "wow" to him in appreciation.

The announcer congratulated the team for their "classy move." The crowd clapped their approval, and I heard several Maple Lake players say "thanks" across the net. It was awesome and totally one of those teachable moments people are always talking about.

After the match, the handshakes under the net were noticeably different.

Instead of the usual "good game" and hand slaps, there were actual handshakes and compliments going back and forth. As I walked to the scorers' table, I heard a player wish her rival "good luck" in their season.

The whole attitude had become supportive and encouraging and you could just feel the sense of respect that had been earned earlier in the night.

By next week, I won't remember who won or lost this contest, but I WILL remember the life lesson I was reminded of: It's not whether you win or lose, but how you play the game. So much more teaching going on in athletics than the skills needed to be victorious.

This single incident seems too powerful and important to keep to myself. What do you think, Diary, should I share my experience with others???

Kathy Kalenberg
Volleyball official
I just feel compelled to send you a message this morning..
First, thank you for the opportunity to umpire the Cambridge/Grand Rapids softball game last night. I was privileged to be a part of such an awesome game and experience.
Second I want to compliment your players, coaches, and fans on exemplary teamwork, sportsmanship, and class in both victory and defeat. I did two of their games in Bemidji last Friday in which they won both and last night's game and both experiences were the same whether they won or lost. Sometimes intense win or be done playoff games can bring out the worst in people but despite several very close plays going against them your group continued to be classy. The coaches and players took the time to come shake our hands and say thank you after the game and two fans approached me as I was leaving the park to say good job and thank you. Your girls played the game with fun passion.
I run the Bemidji Girls Fastpitch day league and coach our 10u traveling team. I hope to instill the same high level of passion, fun and conduct on and off the field.
I hope to cross paths with your program again next season.
My hat is off to the Grand Rapids girls fastpitch team, coaches, and fans!
Travis Malterud
To whom it may concernÖ
On May 2nd, 2014 I was umpiring at the Lakeville Softball Tournament, where North St. Paul was playing Lakeville South. In the 3rd inning a fly ball to deep right center resulted in two players from North High colliding head to head while in a dead sprint.
I want to recognize the training staff from Lakeville South for their immediate response, the Lakeville Police Department for being there in such an efficient manner and their exemplary handling of the injured athletes and the scene, and the Lakeville Fire Department and ALF Ambulance and the EMTís from Allina Health System for their care for the young ladies.
I am an official, and of all the things that I hate to see are injuries that take players out of competition in any way or severity, but to see a professional and caring response from emergency services like I saw in Lakeville gives me comfort in knowing future athletes will be in good hands.

Nick Neibauer, Jr.
Wanted to let you know how respectful and kind a hand full of your players were today, something we don't see enough from High School athletes. After the game a couple of your players sought me out to tell me how nice my team is and they really enjoyed playing us. This made me feel proud of my team because we emphasize respect and sportsmanship. I really appreciate your teams candor, honesty and respect for the game and others.

You should know, your team is the first team that hasn't swore at us, told us we suck and many other unmentionables that my team can't believe happens during a game. Dan, Northfield Girls Lacrosse team is a CLASS ACT.....you should be very proud of your girls. Keep up the Fabulous work!!! Hoping we can come visit Northfield next year!

Randy Seifert
Girls Lacrosse Head Coach


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