John's Journal
Minnetonka’s First Family Of Basketball: Tom, Leah And Emma Dasovich12/5/2011
The varsity basketball teams from Minnetonka High School will play several girl/boy doubleheaders this season, doing so Dec. 20 at Benilde-St. Margaret’s and twice more in February against Eden Prairie. The Lake Conference, in fact, is considering having its five member schools – including Minnetonka – someday going to a girl/boy varsity format for all conference basketball games.

Nobody is more strongly in favor of that concept than the Minnetonka head coaches … who just happen to be married to each other. Tom and Leah Dasovich would enjoy nothing more than being on the same travel schedule and seeing each other’s teams play while having their five-year-old daughter Emma in the gym.

“It’ll be fun for us,” said boys coach Tom Dasovich. “We’ll get to be in one spot on the same night.”

They may be the only husband and wife in Minnesota who are head boys and girls basketball coaches at the same school.

Tom is in his second year as the Minnetonka boys coach after previous head-coaching stops at Columbia Heights and Henry Sibley. Leah, a former Minnetonka assistant, is in her first year as the girls head coach. It’s a match made in basketball heaven, or at least at St. Cloud State University.

Tom and Leah were athletes at St. Cloud State when they met, as Leah joked, “in the training room over a bucket of ice.” Tom played football and basketball at Hopkins High School and football at St. Cloud State. Before Leah (then Leah Thomsen) began her St. Cloud State career, she played center on a St. Cloud Apollo basketball team that lost to Rochester Mayo – led by future WNBA players Kelly and Coco Miller – in the 1995 Class 2A state championship game.

After graduating from college, Tom and Leah (both are 33 years old) were hired as teachers at Minnetonka. Leah has been there ever since, teaching language arts and working as an assistant to former girls basketball coach Bart Inniger until Emma came along. Tom, a social studies teacher, left Minnetonka after one year when he was named head coach at Columbia Heights, and later at Henry Sibley. His Henry Sibley teams went to the Class 4A state tournament in 2008, 2009 and 2010, losing to Minnetonka in the 2008 state championship game.

They were reunited at Minnetonka a year ago when Tom was named boys basketball coach, and Leah became the girls head coach when Inniger stepped down after last season. She had been offered the girls coaching position at Henry Sibley when her husband was there, but the timing wasn’t right with a new baby in the family.

“When this came up, already being a teacher at Minnetonka and Emma starting school this year, it was the right time,” Leah said. “We don’t have another baby right now and it all just seemed to click. It was time to make it work.

“I knew Bart really well and he made it really easy to transition in. Plus, I know all these girls and I’ve had almost all of them in class.”

The Dasoviches hired a nanny to help out with Emma, “so a lot of the coaching salary goes to the nanny,” Tom said with a smile.

It’s no surprise to learn that basketball is a major topic of conversation in the Dasovich household.

“We watch film, we watch games, we talk basketball all the time,” Leah said. “It was nice when Tom was coaching and had those really nice years and making those runs, he’d talk about what they needed to do in practice and we would bounce ideas off each other. It kept me into it a little bit and now he’s been helping me out quite a bit, too.”

Tom said, “She’s definitely a good sounding board. I used to make bad jokes that she was my unpaid assistant. But she really was. She helped me break down film and she helped me scout. It’s nice to have somebody who really understands basketball at a high level … better than me, at least.”

The two Minnetonka teams played back-to-back on the same court at Saturday’s Breakdown Tip-Off Classic at Hopkins. The girls defeated Richfield 68-57 and the boys beat Rogers 93-83. The boys have a 2-0 record and will play at Bloomington Kennedy on Tuesday; the girls will take a 3-0 record into a Thursday home game against Orono.

Everyone at Minnetonka is looking forward to the upcoming girl/boy doubleheaders, especially the head coaches.

“I love that idea,” Leah Dasovich said. “It makes it easier for Emma to come and our parents to come, and it’s a good support system for the girls and boys to support each other. Why not give it a go?”

BY THE NUMBERS
*Schools/teams John has visited: 169
*Miles John has driven: 5,111

--Join the MSHSL on Facebook by clicking on the Facebook button on the right side of www.mshsl.org. John Millea is on Twitter at twitter.com/mshsljohn
Remembering Cole Younker of Wabasha-Kellogg12/2/2011
The following video aired during the 2011 Prep Bowl.

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Lots Of Decisions Made By MSHSL Board Of Directors 12/1/2011
There was plenty of action during Thursday’s MSHSL Board of Directors meeting. Seeding was added for state tennis, Melrose was placed into a conference, new wheelchair events were approved for track and field, a new division was added to the state debate tournament and a new schedule for the state football semifinals was approved.

Here’s a summary of items/changes that were approved by the board…

--Melrose was placed in the West Central Conference.

--Dates for the 2012 state lacrosse tournament were moved to June 5-8. The original dates were June 12-15.

--Public Forum was added to the state debate tournament, beginning in 2013.

--The 100 meters, 3,200 meters and discus were added as wheelchair events for section and state track and field meets, beginning in 2012. The 800, 1,600 and shot put were added as wheelchair events in 2011.

--At state tennis tournaments, seeding will be used for the top four singles players in 2A and 1A, and teams will be seeded in 2A only.

--Blaine High School was approved as the site of the state speech tournaments in 2013 and 2014.

--A new state football semifinal format was approved for 2012, when Class 6A is added. Instead of six semifinals on Friday and six on Saturday, four games will be played on Thursday, five on Friday and five on Saturday, with no games starting before 9 a.m.

DISCUSSION ITEMS

This section of the agenda provided a possible preview of future changes. The board discussed many proposals at length…

--A proposal was made to seed teams No. 1 through No. 8 for the boys state basketball tournament in all four classes, and to do so for Class 3A and Class 4A for the girls state tournament. Currently, girls and boys teams in Class 3A and 4A are seeded No. 1 through No. 4, with their state quarterfinal opponents determined by blind draw; Class 1A and 2A do not use seeding for state tournaments.

--A restructuring of the 4A boys and girls basketball section tournaments was offered, The plan would use geography and competitive balance to assign and seed all 64 4A teams into eight sections, with a committee assigning eight teams to each section and seeding those teams. The hoped-for result would be the best eight teams advancing to the state tournament.

--Recommendations were made to expand girls and boys lacrosse from four sections to eight sections, and have eight teams advance to the state tournaments instead of the current four teams.

--A hockey recommendation was made to change scrimmage rules. Currently, teams are allowed three calendar dates to hold three days of scrimmages or two days of scrimmages and one jamboree day. The recommendation is to allow unlimited scrimmages during the first two weeks of practice and completed by the third Monday after practice begins; after the third Monday, scrimmages would be limited to two scrimmage dates.

--Recommendations for baseball and softball propose to have all section tournaments be single-elimination until eight teams remain, with the final eight teams playing a double-elimination tournament. Currently, section tournaments use double-elimination for the final four teams.

BY THE NUMBERS
*Schools/teams John has visited: 153
*Miles John has driven: 5,085
*Diet Coke Count: 2

--Join the MSHSL on Facebook by clicking on the Facebook button on the right side of www.mshsl.org. John Millea is on Twitter at twitter.com/mshsljohn
MSHSL Board Of Directors Meeting Today11/30/2011
The MSHSL board of directors has gathered at MSHSL World Headquarters in Brooklyn Center for its December meeting. The agenda includes these action items …

--Placement of Melrose High School into a conference. After being involuntarily excluded from the West Central Conference, Melrose has sought conference membership, applying to the Prairie, Granite Ridge, West Central and Central Minnesota conferences. All four conferences voted against adding Melrose as a member. That led to Melrose going through the MSHSL conference placement procedure. The recommendation of a placement committee and independent hearing officer will be presented to the board, and the board is expected to place Melrose into a conference.

--Setting dates for the state lacrosse tournaments in 2012, 2013 and 2014.

--The possibility of adding Public Forum debate to section and state debate tournaments.

--Discussing the status of wheelchair events in section and state track. The 800 meters, 1,600 meters and shot put were added for wheelchair athletes in 2011.

--Seeding for state tennis tournaments will be discussed and action may be taken.

--Blaine High School has offered to host the state speech tournament in 2013 and 2014, and the board will discuss the matter.

The meeting is scheduled to begin at 9:30 a.m. I’ll have instant updates on Twitter (@MSHSLjohn) and a full report right here after the meeting is adjourned.

BY THE NUMBERS
*Schools/teams John has visited: 153
*Miles John has driven: 5,085
*Diet Coke Count: TBA

--Join the MSHSL on Facebook by clicking on the Facebook button on the right side of www.mshsl.org. John Millea is on Twitter at twitter.com/mshsljohn
Familiar Friends/Foes Meet Again On The Ice …With A New Twist11/29/2011
In last season’s girls state hockey tournament, Edina defeated Rosemount 6-0 in the Class 2A quarterfinals. The coaches in that game -- Edina’s Laura Slominski and Rosemount’s Tracy Cassano -- were not only hockey teammates at the University of Minnesota, they were roommates, team captains and they won a national championship together in 2000.

The teams coached by Slominski and Cassano met again on Tuesday evening at Braemar Arena in Edina, but this time there was a new twist on the rivalry: Cassano is now the coach at Chaska-Chanhassen.

But some things never change. The coaches were walking off the ice together after Edina -- the No. 3 team in the Let’s Play Hockey Class 2A rankings – recorded a 2-0 victory when Slominski said to Cassano, “You guys look good, you have a really good team.”

Cassano replied, “Same to you guys. And we’re still waiting to score a goal against you.”

Whether it’s February or November, the Edina Hornets indeed have had the edge on Cassano. But Tuesday’s early-season contest was a solid reminder of how long the hockey season can be and how much work is required to get a program to the highest level.

Slominski has taken the Hornets to those heights. Now in her fourth year at the helm in Edina, her teams know nothing less than the state semifinals. They finished third at state in 2009 and played in the last two state championship games, losing to Roseville 4-0 in 2010 and to Minnetonka 3-2 last season.

This season Edina has a record of 4-1-1, giving Slominki a career record at Edina of 73-18-8.

“Since I’ve been here, all three years we’ve been to state and it’s been a lot of success so far,” she said. “These girls, coming up they’ve seen that and they want to be a part of it, and I think it’s kind of a year for us to regroup and make sure we’re ready to go to make that final run.”

Every successful team loses quality players to graduation, but Edina looks poised for another very good season. Five Hornets were named to the all-state tourney team last season, and the only senior was forward Sami Reber. Back this season are senior defenders Ali Austin and Megan Armstrong, senior goalie Maddie Dahl and junior forward Sarah Nielsen.

Armstrong had one of Tuesday’s goals on a power play, junior Liz Trautz scored the other goal unassisted and Dahl notched her first shutout of the season. The Chaska/Chanhassen Storm Hawks played a very solid first period, outshooting Edina 8-6 and trailing 1-0. After that, the Hornets’ strength and skill was evident.

“It was a really good battle, a good game,” Cassano said. “Edina obviously is one of the top teams in the state and every year they’re there. So I think it’s a good measuring stick for us as far as how we stack up against some of those top teams. I thought the kids came out and worked hard. In the first period I thought we looked pretty tough and in the second period I felt like they really took it to us and they used their speed and their physicalness. We got behind by those two goals and we couldn’t quite put one past Maddie Dahl.”

Chaska/Chanhassen sophomore goaltender Laura Chalupsky played very well, stopping 24 shots in a backup role. Starter Carly Van Orden, another sophomore, is on the shelf while she recovers from mononucleosis.

“I thought Laura stepped up, played solid and made great saves,” said Cassano. “She really stepped up her game and kept us in there. She gave us a chance to possibly win, and that’s all you can ask.”

The loss was Chaska/Chanhassen’s first after opening the season with victories over Farmington, Holy Family Catholic/Waconia and Holy Angels. Edina had defeated Eastview, Lakeville South and Blake while losing to Breck and tying Blaine.

Next up for Edina is a road trip that is both long (on miles) and short (on duration). The Hornets will get on a bus Friday morning and head for Roseau, where they will play that evening. They will play in Warroad on Saturday afternoon before driving home.

“The girls are excited,” Slominski said. “It’ll be seven or eight hours on a bus, so it’ll be good.”

BY THE NUMBERS
*Schools/teams John has visited: 153
*Miles John has driven: 5,085
*Diet Coke Count: 1

--Join the MSHSL on Facebook by clicking on the Facebook button on the right side of www.mshsl.org. John Millea is on Twitter at twitter.com/mshsljohn