John's Journal
John’s Mailbag: Possible Future Activities, Tournaments On TV12/5/2016
Lots of good questions have been coming into John’s Mailbag. For the inaugural segment, we’ll delve into the future and shed a little light on televising MSHSL state tournaments.

Question: Are there any events on the MSHSL radar that might become sanctioned in the future? I've always thought fishing has potential.

If someone had told you 20 years ago that high school activities in Minnesota would include things like robotics and clay target shooting, you probably would have been surprised. The MSHSL is unique around the country in that we sponsor non-athletic activities that include speech, debate, visual arts, music and others.

When the MSHSL board of directors discusses adding new activities, a common question is posed: “Is this good for kids in Minnesota?” That simple query is at the core of what the MSHSL does and how it acts.

There are currently no new activities on the immediate radar. The process can be lengthy, and lacrosse is a good example. Girls and boys lacrosse became full MSHSL activities in 2007. Both had been played as high school “club” sports for a number of years, with state tournaments held by amateur lacrosse associations. New MSHSL activities usually require a minimum number of participating schools as well as the approval of the MSHSL Representative Assembly, which is a comprised of 48 members from schools around the state. The Representative Assembly vetoed boys lacrosse twice before approving it.

Fishing state tournaments are officially sanctioned by high school governing bodies in some states. There are “club” fishing teams in Minnesota now, and a state tournament is held each year. Ultimate Frisbee is similar, with “club” teams at schools. And BMX biking, and archery, and bowling, and you name it. Let’s see what the future holds.

Question: Why doesn't the MSHSL televise the state volleyball tournament?

This is a very common question that is often asked in regards to state tournaments that are not televised, such as volleyball and wrestling. The answer may seem odd, but here it is: The MSHSL doesn’t have the final say on which state tournaments are televised.

We have a contract with KSTC-TV Channel 45 that designates 45 as the official television partner of the MSHSL. KSTC makes the decisions on which state tournaments it will televise.

Sports like volleyball and wrestling might present unique TV challenges, with multiple matches taking place at the same time. There are almost always two volleyball matches being played at Xcel Energy Center, and during the state wrestling tournament in the same arena, action starts with eight mats in use and championship matches are held on three mats at the same time. That may be difficult to televise and give proper attention to everyone competing.

Plus, as anyone who knows a little about the media realizes, revenue is important in these matters. If a television station knows that the cost/revenue equation would result in a loss, the decision would probably be fairly easy.

Keep those questions coming.

--Send a message to me on Twitter. I'm @MSHSLjohn on that platform.

--Send me an email. My email address is jmillea@mshsl.org

--Snail mail? Why the heck not? Lick a stamp and send a note to John Millea, MSHSL, 2100 Freeway Blvd., Brooklyn Center MN 55430

--Post a message on the MSHSL Facebook page. Search for "MSHSL" on Facebook and post away.

BY THE NUMBERS
*Schools/teams John has seen/visited: 288
*Miles John has driven in the Toyota Camry in 2016-17: 5,086
*Follow John on Twitter: @MSHSLjohn
Send Your Questions To John's Mailbag12/3/2016
People often ask me questions in a wide range of areas related to the MSHSL. How was a particular decision made? Who was involved in said decision? What will this mean in the future?

A flurry of questions followed the MSHSL board of directors' recent decisions to add consolation games to the girls and boys state basketball tournaments and to initiate pitch-count limits in baseball. I answered some of these questions on Twitter, but I think having a more open place to post questions and answers may be helpful to more people.

So in keeping with that idea, I'll begin posting "John's Mailbag" segments here on John's Journal. Feel free to ask questions and I will try to answer them. There are several ways to bring questions to my attention:

--Send a message to me on Twitter. I'm @MSHSLjohn on that platform.

--Send me an email. My email address is jmillea@mshsl.org

--Snail mail? Why the heck not? Lick a stamp and send a note to John Millea, MSHSL, 2100 Freeway Blvd., Brooklyn Center MN 55430

--Post a message on the MSHSL Facebook page. Search for "MSHSL" on Facebook and post away. I will see it.

I'll keep the identity of questioners secret, because the question is much more important than who's asking it.

Let the questioning begin!

BY THE NUMBERS
*Schools/teams John has seen/visited: 288
*Miles John has driven in the Toyota Camry in 2016-17: 5,086
*Follow John on Twitter: @MSHSLjohn
A Big Start To The Wrestling Season 12/2/2016
The Apple Valley High School wrestling team is so dominant that its conference winning streak outlived two conferences. Between the 1991 season and Thursday night, the Eagles won every conference dual meet; that streak began when they were in the Lake Red Conference, lasted through the Lake Conference and finally ended in a 29-28 home loss to Shakopee in South Suburban Conference action.

The Eagles are ranked No. 1 in Class 3A by The Guillotine and Shakopee is No. 2, spots that are sure to flip when the next rankings come out.

Thursday’s match provided an interesting coaching twist: Shakopee coach Jim Jackson is a former Apple Valley head coach. The Eagles have won 23 big-school state titles since 1983. They have every 3A title since 2006; their last loss to a Minnesota team came against Wayzata on Dec. 22, 2006.

Jackson coached the Eagles for 32 years (the first 15 as an assistant) and had a head-coaching record of 618-27-3, winning 14 team state championships.

Thursday was the first day of competition for the 2016-17 wrestling season, but eyes are already turning to the Class 3A Section 2 team tournament in February. That’s when Apple Valley and Shakopee will presumably decide which team goes to state.

BY THE NUMBERS
*Schools/teams John has seen/visited: 288
*Miles John has driven in the Toyota Camry in 2016-17: 5,086
*Follow John on Twitter: @MSHSLjohn
The Jablonski Name Is Back On The Ice 11/30/2016
The name “Jablonski” is a permanent fixture for Benilde-St. Margaret’s boys hockey games at The Rec Center in St. Louis Park. Jack Jablonski’s name and jersey number 13 hang from the ceiling along with other retired numbers.

Jack, as Minnesota hockey fans know, was a sophomore at Benilde-St. Margaret’s when he was severely injured during a junior varsity hockey game in late December 2011. Now a student at the University of Southern California, Jack is keeping an eye on the Benilde-St. Margaret’s Red Knights this season for family reasons.

His only sibling, Max, is a senior captain who has brought the family name back to the ice. Seeing “Jablonski” on a jersey was a special moment for Red Knights fans Tuesday night as the team opened the season against St. Michael-Albertville.

“I texted him this morning and he texted back,” Max said after the game. “He wished me good luck. He’s excited for me and he’s proud of where I’ve gotten, and I’m proud of what he’s done.”

Max, who was a seventh-grader when Jack’s injury occurred, has worked hard on the ice. This is his first season on the varsity, where he centered the third line during the Red Knights’ 4-1 loss to St. Michael-Albertville. The score was 2-1 with one minute to play in the third period before St. Michael-Albertville scored two empty-net goals. Max took one shot and won five of 13 faceoffs.

“I’ve been working for this for many years,” he said. “It’s obviously nerve-wracking but coming in as a senior and a captain, I felt like I wasn’t out of place. I felt like I did well and I was excited.”

For people who have seen how hard Jack, who uses a wheelchair, has worked in therapy and rehab in regaining some of his physical abilities, it is no surprise to hear Red Knights coach Ken Pauly use words like “grit” and “heart” to describe Max.

“He’s a heady player,” Pauly said. “Guys like to play with him because he’ll give them the puck. He’s not a quitter. He wants to be out there. That’s something that’s going to be very important for us this year. We know that we’re going to have some struggles and having someone like him leading us should help us with that.”

Benilde-St. Margaret’s was one of the top teams in Class 2A last season, finishing with a record of 25-1-1. Seventeen of last year’s 21 varsity players are now gone, however. That kind of challenge is just fine with the 5-foot-9, 165-pound Max Jablonski (pictured).

“Tonight was tough,” he said. “You never want to fall in the season opener. But we knew there was going to be a lot of growing this season. Although tonight we lost, there were some good things; we played pretty even, we just couldn’t score. So we have a lot of growing to do and I think we’ll be able to use this to take a step in the right direction.

“There’s a team goal of moving on and getting farther than we did last year and hopefully going to state. Which right now is a little tough to say. It’s definitely early and it doesn’t matter what we’re doing now, it matters what we’re doing in February and March.”

Max said his big brother’s injury never caused him to consider walking away from hockey.

“Definitely it was hard to watch when that happened,” Max said. “It made you question, ‘That could be me.’ But I love the game and he loves the game, and it wasn’t like I was going to step away from it. I just try playing for him.”

Pauly said the Jablonskis have never wavered on their love of hockey.

“Through all this they’ve continued to embrace the game, where I think some people might be bitter and blame the game. They’ve continued to embrace the game.”

Until Jack left for college in California, Max was at his side. Whether Jack was working with therapists or making public appearances on behalf of the Jack Jablobski BEL13VE in Miracles Foundation (a charitable organization created to support spinal cord injury recovery: http://www.bel13vefoundation.org), Max was almost always there.

“It’s very motivational,” Max said. “How difficult his injury was to handle and his hockey career being ended so early and him losing his ability to walk, it was just absolutely devastating. And to see the way he was able to not only come back from that, but come back with a smile on his face. Right when he got out of the hospital he wanted to go to rehab right away and start working. I’m very proud of where’s gone and what he’s been able to do since his injury.”

BY THE NUMBERS
*Schools/teams John has seen/visited: 288
*Miles John has driven in the Toyota Camry in 2016-17: 5,086
*Follow John on Twitter: @MSHSLjohn
Lakeville South's Thompson Retires After 38 Years11/29/2016
One of Minnesota's most well-known football coaches has announced his retirement. Larry Thompson coached at Lakeville High School and Lakeville South for 38 years. His teams won three state titles, were state runner-up four times and he was named a state coach of the year five times.

His career coaching record was 259-143, putting him among the top 20 in victories in Minnesota history.

His letter of resignation ended with this zinger: "I was going to coach at South until we got turf, but I can't wait until I'm 100."