John's Journal
MSHSL Board of Directors Will Meet On Thursday4/6/2011
Members of the Minnesota State High School League board of directors will gather at MSHSL World Headquarters in Brooklyn Center on Thursday morning for their April meeting. The agenda is a busy one, with several items of interest to those who participate in and follow high school activities.

The placement of schools into competitive sections for 2011 through 2013 should be finalized at the meeting. The placements were announced on mshsl.org a few weeks ago. The board also will discuss having the MSHSL become a partner in robotics competitions.

In the realm of athletics, football, baseball and track and field will be discussed at Thursday’s meeting. Here’s a brief look at each …

--FOOTBALL/ The board will talk about issues facing schools in finding enough games to fill their football schedules. This topic has been discussed for a long time by coaches, administrators, at MSHSL area meetings and by the board of directors. A football task force also has held several meetings to discuss this, and input has been received from schools all over the state. One possible option is revamping football into section play during the regular season. Another is to add a seventh class in football, helping to remedy a large disparity in enrollment among current Class 5A schools. There are currently 54 schools in 5A football, with enrollments ranging from 1,246 to 3,091. The MSHSL policy on classes seeks no more than a 2-to-1 ratio in enrollments, and 5A does not meet that policy. Thus the consideration of adding a new class for the largest schools in the Minnesota.

--BASEBALL/ The board will hear a proposal to adjust the schedule for the state tournament in all three classes. Currently, each class uses two fields to play quarterfinal, semifinal and consolation games on the same day. Under that plan, two teams in each class are eliminated on the first day. Under the proposed change, only quarterfinals would be played on the first day (on one field for each class), with semifinals, consolation games and third-places game held the second day (on two fields). All championship games are scheduled for Target Field.

--TRACK AND FIELD/ The board will hear a proposal to add several wheelchair events to this sport. The proposed events are the 800, 1,600 and shot put.

The board of directors consists of 20 people who represent the following groups…
8 from administrative regions
4 from the public
2 from the Minnesota School Boards Association
2 from the Minnesota Association of Secondary School Principals
1 from boys sports
1 from girls sports
1 from the Communications and Theater Association of Minnesota
1 from the Minnesota Music Educators Association

Thursday’s meeting will begin at 9:30 a.m. I will post live updates throughout the meeting. Immediate information will flow on Twitter (@MSHSLjohn), updates will be posted on the MSHSL Facebook page and I’ll update John’s Journal as well.

BY THE NUMBERS
*Schools/teams John has visited: 566
*Miles John has driven: 8,807

--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
A Big Move For Perham’s Zach Gabbard4/5/2011
The last time we saw Zach Gabbard, he got out of his wheelchair to walk and high-five his Perham basketball teammates during introductions before the Class 2A state semifinals at Target Center. The Yellowjackets went on to capture the state championship the next day, with a worn-out Zach watching on television from Bethesda Rehabilitation Hospital in St. Paul.

Zach has made another big move. He and his parents have returned to Perham, where Zach is in a transitional rehab unit at Perham Hospital. Zach was able to sleep in his own bed at home on Saturday and Sunday and moved into the hospital unit on Monday.

Here’s a message that was posted on Zach’s CaringBridge site Saturday evening:

“Unfortunately, I didn't have access to a computer yesterday. Zach had a great day. Today was an even better day! He was very willing and happy to accompany his parents on a road trip home! We made a surprise entrance into the middle school during the Spring Fling tournament and received a very warm welcome. He gets to sleep in his own bed for two nights and on Monday will be admitted into the transitional rehab unit in the Perham Hospital. We are looking forward to spending a quiet, restful Sunday at home alone because we need to monitor his blood pressure throughout the weekend.”

This update was posted on the site Monday:

“Zach is settled into his new surroundings. What a nice facility!!! He likes the fact that he can help himself to food! :) He met with each of his different therapists and his doctor today. Tomorrow full blown therapy will begin. It is so nice that his friends are close by and can visit him daily. Therapy, however, is first priority. There is a Wii at the facility so he and his friends can have a good time while visiting. :) I will try to update here but it won't be as often. Maybe once or twice a week until he is home for good. Thank you ALL for the generous posts and so many prayers throughout this ordeal. God is Great!”
A Few Scattered Tidbits On A Spring Day4/4/2011
Happy spring! It’s a balmy 38 degrees (above zero) today at MSHSL World Headquarters, where spring is the thing as we get into April. Before we know it, spring state tournaments will be held and another school year will be over.

But first we need to get a warmup going across Minnesota. According to a weather report from Fairmont – via the MSHSL Facebook page – it was 62 degrees down there in that beautiful city on Sunday and the first track meet of the year will be held Tuesday.

A report from Springfield in southwestern Minnesota, home of the Class 1A boys basketball state champions, says that flooding and wet ground are slowing things down for spring athletes.

The forecast looks like things should improve this week, but that usually depends on where you live. Especially from south to north, there can be a wide range of conditions for outdoor activities this time of year. It’s safe to say that Fairmont’s 62 degrees wasn’t felt in, say, International Falls. But I am certain that warm weather will arrive (fingers crossed).

--While taking a few days off last week, I did some traveling. Nothing exotic, no warm beaches or palm trees. Looking at this photo, see if you can figure out where I went (while wearing my “One Clap for Zach” t-shirt).

LET’S SHARE SOME STORIES

Warming weather gives me the itch to get in my car, visit schools and teams and write about the great things taking place around our state. I’m always on the lookout for story ideas, so feel free to send me an email telling me what’s happening where you are.

The best stories are the true human stories. Take a moment to think about what’s happening with your team, your school, your conference, your area. I always tell people that there’s at least one dynamite story at every school in Minnesota. Let me know about yours.

COACHING CHANGES

As the school year begins winding down we start seeing coaching changes. There are a couple I’d like to mention today. One is at Park Center High School, where former University of Minnesota quarterback Ricky Foggie has been named head football coach. Foggie, 44, replaces former Minnesota Vikings player Rufus Bess, who coached at Park Center for four years.

Foggie played for 10 years in the Canadian Football League and also played in the Arena Football League. He previously worked as an assistant football coach at Burnsville High School.

The other coaching change is at Ellsworth, where Tyler Morris has resigned his positions as sixth-grade teacher and boys basketball coach. He will move to Tekamah, Nebraska, to become head boys basketball coach and teach fifth grade in the Tekamah-Herman school system.

I have been a regular visitor to Ellsworth, which is one of the great little communities in Minnesota. You may recall a story that appeared here – as well as in the program for the boys state basketball tournament – about Coaches vs. Cancer. Ellsworth was a primary focus of that story, and Tyler has done great work in organizing Ellsworth’s annual Coaches vs. Cancer event.

The move to Nebraska means Tyler and his family will be closer to his wife’s family. He told me it was not an easy decision because of how much he enjoyed his time in Ellsworth. And knowing how special Ellsworth is, I can appreciate the difficulty of his decision.

BY THE NUMBERS
*Schools/teams John has visited: 566
*Miles John has driven: 8,807

--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
Memorable Moments, Big Numbers … And Now A Little Downtime3/28/2011
The Minnesota high school version of March Madness – which actually begins in February every year – has come to an end. It was a thrilling ride, wasn’t it? I tried to tell as many stories as possible here on John’s Journal, and there were some great tales.

The emotional journey of Zach Gabbard and the Perham boys basketball team was something we’ll always remember, and there are many other memories, too. On the MSHSL Facebook page, I have asked our nearly 3,000 Friends about their favorite memories from the winter tournaments. The Perham Yellowjackets seem to have made a real impact with people from all over, and not just in Minnesota.

Here’s one of the Facebook messages:

“This year was all about Perham!!! They did an awesome job and deserved winning ;-) It was an emotional moment for everyone having Zach supporting and walking out on the court!!!!! Great job Yellowjackets.... You have fans in Idaho!”

Here is another memory, posted on Facebook:

“The classy postgame after the 4A girls championship game between Eden Prairie and Hopkins, with both teams gathering in a huddle for encouraging words from the coaches and heartfelt good sportsmanship.”

And here’s a fun message:

“Hey- I'm maggie I'm the manager for the freeze.. It was our second straight tournament trip.. This year was great.. Even though we lost. That made the team become really close!! It was an amazing experience either way!! But my favorite memory was actually, on our way down to the cities! Our charter bus broke down 15 ft from the state pen for an hour and a half!!”

Thanks to Maggie the manager from Northern Freeze and everyone who participates on our Facebook page. We have more than 2,800 Facebook Friends and that number is growing all the time.

In fact, our Facebook page had more than 1.2 million views in the past month alone.

And here is another great big number: 6,235,071. That’s the number of page views on mshsl.org from Feb. 21 to March 27, which is essentially the winter tournament season. Yes, you read that number correctly … more than 6.235 million page views.

That is an all-time mshsl.org record, and it’s more than a million page views beyond what we saw during the same period in 2010.

I have posted a series of photos from the winter state tournaments on our Facebook page, just in case you want to look back at one of the best times of the prep season. It’s a mad dash through all the tournaments, involving long days and great competition. And there’s nowhere else I’d rather be.

I’m going to duck out for the rest of this week and catch up on things like sleep and reading and walking the dog and changing the oil and getting a haircut and taking my wife out to a movie or two.

The ground is still a little damp as we wait for spring sports to get cranked up. But it won’t be long!

BY THE NUMBERS
*Schools/teams John has visited: 566
*Miles John has driven: 8,807

--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
Gearing Up For Championship Saturday3/26/2011
Wow! After four games and seven overtimes on Friday at Target Center, who the heck knows what Saturday will hold.

Here’s the lineup of games …

Noon (Class 1A): Belgrade-Brooten-Elrosa (32-0) vs. Springfield (25-3)

2 p.m. (2A): Rochester Lourdes (24-7) vs. Perham (30-1)

6 p.m. (3A): Columbia Heights (25-6) vs. Orono (27-4)

8 p.m. (4A): Hopkins (30-1) vs. Eden Prairie (27-4)