John's Journal
Time For Turf in Minneapolis5/4/2010
I’m planning to get some fresh air this afternoon and help support a good cause at the same time.

Minneapolis Public Schools will hold a kickoff event today for their effort to raise funds in order to install turf fields at two high school football fields. The program is called “Team Up For Turf: Funding Fields For The Future.”

The Minneapolis Public Schools have committed to raising $1.25 million to convert the football fields at Washburn High School and Patrick Henry High School to state-of-the-art synthetic turf fields to suit football, soccer and lacrosse games. By 2013, MPS hopes to raise enough additional funds to cover the cost of at least one more synthetic turf project. All fields would be available for the use of schools, parks and Minneapolis youth.

Today’s event will be held from 3 to 4 p.m. at the Patrick Henry football field, 4320 Newton Avenue North.

I’ll take some photos at the event, post them on Facebook and Twitter, and write about the festivities here on John’s Journal.

--John Millea is on Twitter at twitter.com/mshsljohn

--Join the MSHSL on Facebook; simply search for “MSHSL” and become a fan
A Sunny, Breezy Kickoff for Turf in Minneapolis5/4/2010
There was a pep band. There were balloons. I ate a cheeseburger and drank a Diet Coke. All in all, it was a very neat afternoon at Don Swanson Stadium, home of the Minneapolis Patrick Henry High School football, soccer and track teams.

The event, held by Minneapolis Public Schools, was the kickoff for efforts to raise funds in order to install turf fields at Henry as well as Washburn High School. The program is called “Team Up For Turf: Funding Fields For The Future.”

As Steve Liss, the district’s Chief of Policy and Operations, told the crowd assembled for the event, “We believe the donors are out there and we have the support in the community to make this vision a reality.”

The district has committed to raising $1.25 million to convert the football fields at Washburn and Henry to state-of-the-art synthetic turf fields to suit football, soccer and lacrosse games. By 2013, MPS hopes to raise enough additional funds to cover the cost of at least one more synthetic turf project. All fields would be available for the use of schools, parks and Minneapolis youth. Henry and Washburn were chosen first because their stadiums are fully equipped with lights and press box facilities.

John Washington, director of athletics for the district, said, “This isn’t a Henry and Washburn project. This is a Minneapolis district project.”

On the football field, balloons were tied to football helmets from each of the district’s seven high schools. After a drum roll, those balloons were released into the breeze-filled air. Four members of the Minnesota Stars professional soccer team also helped, kicking four soccer balls while Henry football coach (and former Viking) John Swain threw a football downfield.

After the formal events were completed, students and adults were invited to kick or throw footballs or boot soccer balls. All who participated were allowed to select an item from a large gathering of goodies, ranging from iPods to Twins tickets to footballs, soccer balls and assorted apparel (including apparel donated by the MSHSL).

I shot some photos during the event, and you can find several of them on our Facebook page (and one on Twitter). If you haven’t joined our growing Facebook and Twitter groups, now’s the time!

--John Millea is on Twitter at twitter.com/mshsljohn

--Join the MSHSL on Facebook; simply search for “MSHSL” and become a fan

If It's Monday, This Must Be Brainerd 5/3/2010
Yes, this dispatch is being filed from Brainerd, site of another in a series of MSHSL area meetings. After an early-morning departure from the Twin Cities, the MSHSL crew has arrived at The Lodge at Brainerd Lakes.

Administrators, along with several students here to learn about the Student Sports Information Directors program, are arriving and the meeting will begin at 10 a.m. After Howard Voigt and I speak to the entire group during the meeting, we will break off with the students and chat in another room.

Lunch will end the festivities, after which we will return back to headquarters. Be sure to look atTwitter and Facebook for photos from today.

Have a great Monday!

--John Millea is on Twitter at twitter.com/mshsljohn

--Join the MSHSL on Facebook; simply search for “MSHSL” and become a fan
Analisa Huschle: Dancer, Singer, Track Champion4/30/2010
As you enter Bagley High School, one of the first things you see is a large banner that reads, “State Girls Track & Field Athlete of the Year.” The banner, courtesy of Gatorade, designates Analisa Huschle as Minnesota’s top female track athlete for 2008-09.

The folks in Bagley better make sure there is enough room for a couple more banners, because Huschle’s fame continues to grow.

The 17-year-old junior won the long jump, triple jump and 200-meter dash at last year’s Class A state track meet for the Bagley/Fosston cooperative team. She set an all-time state record in the long jump, going 19 feet, 2 ¼ inches.

Huschle is the favorite to win those events again at this year’s state meet, which will be held June 11-12 at Hamline University in St. Paul. She captured her first state title in the triple jump when she was a ninth-grader, and if she can win three events again this spring and do the same in her senior year, she would become a 10-time state track champion.

Her coach says we have yet to see the best from his young star.

“She actually has a long ways to go yet,” Doug Carlson said. “She has a lot of natural ability but it’s something we’re constantly working on, the technique in the jump events and things. Basically the sky’s the limit.”

Huschle realized as much in February when she worked out in front of former Gophers jump star and Olympian Shani Marks, a former Apple Valley High School athlete.

“She watched my form and she told me what I was doing wrong,” Huschle said. “Basically, I was doing everything wrong.”

That’s says something about Huschle’s athletic talent: she was “basically doing everything wrong” and still set a state record in the long jump.

“Shani kind of gave her some pointers,” Carlson said. “It was probably a little bit of an awakening, too, because she can do much more.”

Analisa already does a lot, on the track and off. She is a member of her school’s dance team during the winter (Question: Does dancing help make you a better track athlete? Answer: “I think so. We’re always kicking, doing leaps and stuff”) and she dreams of becoming a recording artist; she sings country music and plays the guitar.

Huschle won the long jump, triple jump and 200 at the recent Hamline Elite Meet, competing against athletes from some of the largest schools in the state. Bagley’s high school enrollment is only 258 and Fosston has 170 students.

“That was awesome,” she said. “I didn’t think I was going to do that well. There are bigger schools there, everybody’s there.”

Bagley/Fosston won last year’s Class A state team title, with Huschle's three titles accounting for 36 of the team’s 47 points (she teamed with Maria Berg, Kyli Day and Lynsey Bardwell to finish second in the 4x200 relay). It was the first team championship in any sport for Bagley, and the accomplishment by Huschle and her teammates is even more remarkable considering the track facilities in Bagley.

The track is little more than a wide gravel path. If it had lanes, there might be four of five of them. The athletes don’t wear spikes when running on the track. “You could, but there’s no point,” Huschle said.

Analisa, who has four older brothers, lives on a farm near Bagley with her parents, Dan and Kim. The farm is also the home of beef cattle and two horses.

As Huschle’s profile continues to rise, Division I colleges are showing interest in her. If she feels any pressure, she doesn’t show it. She just smiles and says her goals for the rest of this season are simple.

“Basically, I just want to keep improving,” she said.

That should not be a problem. In other words, prepare for more banners,

--John Millea is on Twitter at twitter.com/mshsljohn

--Join the MSHSL on Facebook; simply search for “MSHSL” and become a fan

Red Wing's Nemanich Steps Down4/29/2010
Red Wing High School boys’ hockey coach George Nemanich has stepped down. Here are excerpts from a story by Ryan Nilsson in the Red Wing Republican Eagle:

After 18 years as the Red Wing boys’ hockey coach, George Nemanich resigned to devote his attention to his profession and his family. Nemanich led the team to one state championship and six state tournament appearances.

He finished with a 331-142-15 record behind the bench. He was just the team’s second coach since the program was launched in 1974.

Nemanich has been the assistant principal at Twin Bluff Middle School for the past three years and this year he added the role of Tower View School principal to his list of responsibilities. He took a three-year leave of absence as a high school social studies teacher for the administrative position and he has elected not to return to teaching.

Nemanich became head coach in the 1992-93 season. The Wingers appeared in five consecutive state tournaments beginning in 1995. Red Wing finished second in 1996 and won it all the next year.

--John Millea is on Twitter at twitter.com/mshsljohn

--Join the MSHSL on Facebook; simply search for “MSHSL” and become a fan