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100 Years: Top Coaches
Home Page Photo Great teams, successful programs, and lasting championship legacies all have a common denominator: Strong leadership at the top.

Minnesota high school sports are littered with successful coaches who have created championship memories and positive impacts that have spanned decades and generations.

In honor of the Minnesota State High School League's 100-year anniversary, we set out to find out who is the state's best high school coach of all time. To do that, we need your help.

Through extensive research, the top 100 coaches in a variety of MSHSL activities were determined. It was an arduous task paring the list to just 100, but those are the rules!

The communications department conducted a draft where coaches were seeded and placed in one of four regions. The regions are named after the MSHSL associate directors.

Now, it is your turn. Voting begins Monday, May 25th.

As the centennial celebration continues, head-to-head matchups will take place. Your votes will determine what coach advances in our tournament-style bracket.

Come along with us as we journey through our rich history of coaches, past and present.
Eagle Regional Tiger Regional Panther Regional Cardinal Regional

By Tim Leighton

Paul Pranghofer is used to the stares.
If he was a youngster, he too, would wonder about encountering someone that was born with no arms and one leg significantly shorter than the other.
"Instead of people looking at me and then shying away, I'd rather have them ask me questions," said Pranghofer, 61. "It is a personal rule of mine to talk to people about it, to educate them. My disability bothered me greatly when I was younger, but as you age, you gain wisdom. I embrace it now. I want people to feel comfortable around me."
The Minneapolis native doesn't get the stares when he is officiating high school adapted athletics. He might get stare-downs from coaches, he jokes, but he certainly has been a common sight for the past 32 years in Minnesota gymnasiums.
The Minnesota State High School League is the only state association that governs adapted athletics. During the school year, soccer is played in the fall, floor hockey in the winter, and bowling and softball in the spring. State championships are played in two divisions, one for students with cognitive impairments and the other for physical impairments.
The MSHSL has sponsored state tournaments in adapted athletics since 1993. Pranghofer began his officiating career in 1984 with the Minnesota Association for Adapted Athletics League, which later gave way to governance by the MSHSL.

"Paul is one of our most well-known and most recognizable officials," Robbinsdale/Hopkins/Mound Westonka coach Marcus Onsum said. "Even if people don't agree with some of his calls, or his interpretations of our adapted rules, everyone respects him for what he has done for adapted athletics in Minnesota and for what he represents."
In the 21 years that the MSHSL has sponsored adapted athletics, Pranghofer has worked in every floor hockey and softball state tournament. He has worked in all but three soccer state tournaments. He specifically works in the PI division.
Just as the sports have been adapted, so too, has Pranghofer's officiating.
In the absence of arms to signal stoppages in play, he vocalizes and uses a whistle that is nestled on his left side. Pranghofer has two fingers that are just below his left shoulder socket. There, the whistle fits snugly during play. In everyday life, it is where he holds a pen or pencil.
He didn't begin using a wheelchair for his officiating and everyday life until about 30 years ago. He did so, in part, to save his legs from the wear and tear, and to ensure mobility in his senior years. In his younger days, he was able to walk daily a distance of about 1.5 miles before feeling fatigued. Now that distance is about 200 yards.
In floor hockey, his favorite sport to officiate, he used to use his left foot to drop the puck for a faceoff. That became a painful problem, though, when players would whack his unguarded foot with their hockey sticks during the faceoff. He now wears a shoe on that foot, instead opting to drop the puck with the right foot, on his shorter leg.
"My first five years of officiating was a learning process," Pranghofer said. "When I first started, I wanted to be perfect, to call the perfect game, game in and game out. You can't think that way. You've got to manage the game. Different things happen in a game and you have to adapt. Sometimes that means letting some of the ticky-tack things go."
Pranghofer said his officiating style is more mellow and less excitable than in his early days. He said when a coach or player challenged a call in his early years of officiating, he had a tendency to become offensive in return.
"I got in their faces a bit," he said. "I've learned over the years that that isn't the way conflicts are solved. I stay calm now and diffuse the situation. It's best to be calm about things when you are an official. ‘'
In his 32-year officiating career, he said he has had to eject just three participants --- one coach and two competitors.
Pranghofer developed his love of officiating from Ed Prohofsky, his physical education teacher at Marshall University High School in Minneapolis. Prohofsky is one of the pioneers in the development and acceptance of adapted athletics in Minnesota.
In their physical education classes, Prohofsky encouraged students to go beyond just watching sporting events. Learn the rules, he preached. Watch the games from an official's perspective, he encouraged.
"He was my mentor; my love of sports is because of Ed," said Pranghofer, a 1972 graduate.
Growing up in south Minneapolis, Pranghofer said mainstreaming of special-needs students wasn't happening in the school districts. There were no organized sports available, either, for kids with disabilities.
They had to make up their own games. He said about a dozen neighborhood kids would gather for boot hockey games in the alleys in the winter months. In the summer, it was kickball and their own version of baseball. Pranghofer was the fulltime pitcher, using his left foot to lob a rubber ball to the batter. In the fall, it was tackle football.
"We were tough guys," he says with a laugh. "We didn't play touch football."
After high school graduation, he was awarded a scholarship from Control Data to become a software engineer. While he built his own computer business, his love of sports continued, as did his grassroots work with developing sports for disabled adults.
His advocacy for being active in life and for adapted athletics continues today.
Onsum grew up in the community where Pranghofer lives now and was amazed.
He saw him riding through the neighborhood on a modified bicycle, operating a snowblower and lawn mower and hanging Christmas lights. Onsum said his parents told him, "If he can do those sorts of things, there's no reason you can't help out around here and do them, too."
Said Onsum: "Paul is one of the most amazing and inspirational people I have ever met."
"Paul has been an exceptional role model in the entire MSHSL community," said MSHSL Assistant Director Rich Matter, who oversees the adapted athletics program. "His dedication and love for our high school sports programs is unwavering. I know Paul would say he has benefitted tremendously from his involvement with our programs, but I would say it is our programs that have benefitted from Paul's involvement."
Pranghofer says he will return for at least another school year of officiating.
"I don't believe in sitting on the sideline in life," he said. "I want to be involved. I want to continue to be a positive influence to these young people."
100 Years: Greatest Players
Home Page Photo Minnesota high school athletics has been a special playground for memorable moments. In the 100-year history of the MSHSL, many are etched in memory banks forever.

Few will forget the "rump shot" by Blake Hoffarber of Hopkins during a boys basketball state tournament game. Or how about the miracle, unheard-of pass from Jordan Marshall to Micah Koehn that gave Totino-Grace a stunning Prep Bowl championship?

Hey, some are still exhausted from that five-overtime marathon between Duluth East and Apple Valley in the boys hockey state tournament.

Great moments, to be sure, but who is the best of the best in Minnesota high school athletics?

As we celebrate our centennial, we aim to find out, and we need your help.

After extensive research and consultation with Minnesota media and other sports figures, the MSHSL has selected the top 100 student-athletes of all time. The athletes have been divided into four 25-player tournament-style regions. The regions are named after current MSHSL executive Dave Stead and three former leaders who shared that same position.

The top seeds are Anoka's Billy Bye, Bronko Nagurski of International Falls, Winona's Paul Giel and Moose Lake's Annie Adamczak.

Round-by-round, your votes will determine which student-athletes advance. To refresh your memory, bios are available for the student-athletes by scrolling over their name.

Voting will take place Wednesday through Tuesday. Each Tuesday, we will announce the winners and update the brackets.

To kick off the fun, on April 29th we begin with the play-in rounds, the 8 vs 25 Matchups, with new matchups weekly.

Join us as we relive some of the greatest feats in Minnesota history as we try to determine who is the best of the best.

Enjoy the journey. Share your thoughts to @MSHSL100 or use #MSHSL100 on Twitter

The brackets can be found at www.mshsl.org/100Years
Dave Stead Regional Orv Bies Regional Murrae Freng Regional B.H. Hill Regional

The Minnesota State High School League is celebrating its 100th year of providing extra-curricular opportunities in athletics and fine arts.

The League is proud of its 100-year legacy, and in honor of the milestone in 2016, we share yearly snapshots taken along the way.

Please join us in a celebratory look at our heritage.

Posted by Tim Leighton (tleighton@mshsl.org) - Updated 5/21/2015 10:53:55 AM

• Some basketball suggestions used in education of coaches, players and fans, from the Delaware Bulletin:
“Teams should not try to stall. A fast, peppy game is pleasant to the spectators.”
“Be a booster, not a knocker! The real sportsman is a good loser as well as a good winner. Alibis never helped a team or coach.”
“Be generous when you win. Don’t crow over your opponents.”
“There should be no kicking on decisions by either player or coach. Get competent officials and abide by their decisions.”
“Fraternizing with officials is poor policy.”
• Appleton wins the coveted Sportsmanship Trophy at the boys basketball state tournament.
• 257 schools were members of the MHSAA.
• There were seven high schools in Minneapolis (Central, Marshall, Edison, North, Roosevelt, South, West) and just four in St. Paul (Central, Humboldt, Johnson, Mechanic Arts).
• Minneapolis South wins the boys basketball state championship with a 32-13 victory over Excelsior.
• Basketball rosters were eight players.
• A general admission seat to the boys basketball tournament was 50 cents. A reserved seat was $1.
• The 1927 MSHSAA handbook was dedicated to Dr. L.D. Coffman, president of the University of Minnesota.
• “What an opportunity for effective influence for human betterment the college or high school athlete enjoys today.” G.V. Kinney, Minnesota State High School Athletic Association president.
• In October of 1927, Louis Todnem of Mankato organized what would eventually become the Big 9 Conference. Albert Lea, Austin, Faribault, Mankato, Owatonna, Red Wing, Rochester and Winona formed the group called the “Southern Minnesota Athletic Conference.’’ For ease, it was known as the Big 8. After Northfield joined, the conference became the Big 9.

Posted by Tim Leighton (tleighton@mshsl.org) - Updated 5/15/2015 10:32:43 AM

• Gaylord, representing Section 6, became Minnesota’s first “Cinderella’’ team when it recorded three consecutive upsets en route to winning the boys basketball state championship at the Kenwood Armory.
• Gaylord (20-3-1) opened the tournament with an 18-14 victory over heavily-favored Moorhead. In the semifinals, Gaylord rallied from an early deficit to record a 22-12 victory over Austin.
In its third upset of the tournament, Gaylord defeated Gilbert 13-9 in the championship game.
• With the victory, Gaylord suddenly had more basketball to play. They were the Minnesota representative in the national tournament.
• In less than two hours following the state championship game, $500 was raised by “passing the hat’’ to finance Gaylord’s trip to Chicago for the national tournament games.
• Gaylord defeated Memphis 25-24 in its opening game and then beat an Atlanta school 23-7 in the second round. The magical run ended with a 25-20 loss to Fargo, N.D.
• The train depot in Gaylord was a popular spot as fans awaited game updates via telegraph.
• The Lake Conference in the western suburbs of Minneapolis was born. Excelsior was the first Lake Conference football champion.
• Nearly 200 of the 257 schools in the association had girls basketball teams.
• The Minnesota Public School Music League was formed and held its inaugural state contest a year later.
• Central and Mechanic Arts shared the St. Paul City Conference championship with 5-1 records. Mechanic Arts defeated Central 3-1 in 10 innings in the final game of the season to forge the tie. Central had defeated Mechanic Arts 6-5 two weeks earlier.

Check back for more weekly looks at the MSHSL's "100 years of memories."

More of the Countdown to 100

Blooming Prairie’s Awesome Athlete/Student/Role Model
Posted by John Millea(jmillea@mshsl.org)- Updated 5/20/2015 4:12:04 PM

BLOOMING PRAIRIE – When you talk to people at Blooming Prairie High School about John Rumpza, you hear things like this:

--“John’s the kid that I want my boys to grow up to be.”

--“He’s somebody that you’d want your daughter to bring home.”

--“He’s one of those kids you wish would never graduate.”

Rumpza is in the final days of an amazing high school career, which has extended beyond the athletic arena. Yes, he is a three-sport athlete (football, basketball, baseball), but he’s also a top student who played trumpet in the school band program until this year, when his coursework left no room for band.

Sitting in the dugout during baseball practice Tuesday, Rumpza ticked off the classes he’s taking in his final semester: “Calculus, physics, chemistry, college English, and a more general English class.”

Clearly there was no senior slide for Rumpza, who will leave a shadow at Blooming Prairie that extends even further than his real shadow (he stands between 6-foot-6 and 6-foot-7). He can remember a couple of B-plus grades, but otherwise it’s been straight A’s and a 4.0 grade-point average as a senior. He will attend Division II Winona State University on a football scholarship.

His academic high point was being named not only his school’s male winner of the MSHSL Triple-A Award for academics, arts and athletics, but also winning the same award among all Class A Section 1 schools. He attended the statewide Triple A banquet in Minneapolis and was featured on television at halftime during one of the basketball state championship games at Target Center.

Rumpza was a three-year starting quarterback for the Awesome Blossoms. Football coach Chad Gimbel said, “I’ve been doing this for 20-some years and I’ve had a lot of great kids come through. He’s one in a million.”

Rumpza, a 2,000-point scorer in basketball, was offered a scholarship in that sport by Division II Bemidji State but he made his biggest impact on the football field. He was a finalist for the Minnesota Mr. Football award after a spectacular senior season. The Blossoms finished with an 11-1 record and won the Class 1A Section 1 championship before losing to Minneapolis North 14-6 in the state quarterfinals.

The 2014 season was a record-book battle between Rumpza and Nicollet senior quarterback Dalton Elliott, who will play football at Division II University of Sioux Falls. Elliott finished his career with a state-record 9,100 passing yards, followed closely by Rumpza with a No. 2 all-time total of 8,991. Elliott also set a state record with 113 career touchdown passes; Rumpza had a second-best total of 112.

With Rumpza, however, it’s not the numbers that people in Blooming Prairie will remember most.

“For everything he’s accomplished, he’s a better person off the field,” Gimbel said. “That’s hard to find.”

Rumpza grew up watching his brother Patrick, a 2008 Blooming Prairie graduate, compete in athletics. It might sound farfetched now, but John was unsure if he would be able to play at a high level.

“I always loved sports but I guess the next level always kind of scares me,” he said. “Right now, looking at college, it just makes you nervous a little bit. My brother played high school sports, too, and you always looked up to them, wondering, ‘Could I ever do that?’ ”

He proved he could certainly do that and more. This spring he leads the Blossoms baseball team with a .400 batting average; they will open Class 1A Section 1 tournament play at Hayfield on Thursday.

“He’s down to earth, he’s polite, he’s everything,” said baseball coach Matt Kittelson. “He’s the star athlete, the 4.0 student, the altar boy at church, just a real outstanding community member. He’s a great role model for everybody. He works hard at everything he does.”

The senior class will graduate on May 31; it’s an ending that Rumpza says has snuck up on him.

“It’s kind of weird. You never really think it’s going to come,” he said. “You just don’t think about it very much until it’s actually here. I’m getting ready for the next step, and it will be a big change going to college.”

He knew Winona State was a good fit after his initial campus visit. He plans to major in math education with the goal of becoming a high school teacher and coach.

“That was the first offer I got,” he said of Winona State. “And I was looking for the right educational program. I visited there and it just felt right.”

He plans to redshirt during his freshman football season. Winona State’s current starting quarterback is Jack Nelson, who will be a junior this fall. (Nelson is from Byron, another southern Minnesota small town.) If everything goes right, Rumpza will step in as the sophomore starter after Nelson graduates.

He took a similar path in high school, becoming the Awesome Blossoms’ starting quarterback as a 10th-grader.

“It got to be a lot at first, just the mental aspect of the game,” he said. “I was just kind of trying to ease my way into that. In my senior year I could definitely tell that the game really slowed down and I had a lot better understanding of the game.”

Rumpza ran the scout-team offense as a ninth-grader, and Gimbel said he was impressive at such a young age.

“One guy who had coached with us and moved on stopped by practice one day. I said, ‘There’s our next quarterback.’ ”

He added that Rumpza’s transition to the starting job was an easy one.

“He started out having success right away. There were some trials and tribulations; he would have a good game and in the next game he might struggle. But what really impressed us was how he came back in the next game, really refocused.”

Rumpza threw for 38 touchdowns and nearly 3,000 yards as a sophomore, completing 57 percent of his passes. That percentage climbed to 63 percent as a junior and 65 percent as a senior.

“You can see how laid back he is,” said Blooming Prairie athletic director John Worke. “He doesn’t make hasty decisions, he’s very rational. Very rarely can you get him upset. He’ll show emotion with good things like the best of them, with a fist pump after a touchdown, a high five, hugging a teammate.

“He has continued to grow and mature, not only athletically, but academically and emotionally. He’s really become a good role model and good leader for other kids to look up to. We feel that as educators and coaches we’ve all played a part in that. We’re proud that he’s one of ours.”

*Schools/teams John has seen/visited: 533
*Miles John has driven in the Toyota Camry in 2014-15: 10,245
*Follow John on Twitter. He’s @MSHSLjohn

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