John's Journal
Inside the MSHSL: Region Secretaries4/6/2010
Most people don’t have a good sense of everything that goes into maintaining and improving school athletic and activity programs in Minnesota. I was certainly one of those people before I came to work for the MSHSL a few weeks ago. I’m learning more every day, including a new experience this morning.

The MSHSL region secretaries met today here at MSHSL World Headquarters in Brooklyn Center. This group of 16 men and women meets with MSHSL staff at regular intervals each year; each of the state’s eight regions has a person who represents the small (A) schools and another person who represents the big (AA) schools.

The group met for about three hours this morning, covering an agenda that included more than two dozen items. MSHSL staffers Dave Stead, Rich Matter, Chris Franson, Kevin Merkle, Jody Redman and Craig Perry briefed the group on many items and answered questions from the region secretaries on a wide range of issues.

I spoke to the group briefly about my new position with the League, my duties and some of the goals I hope to accomplish. They asked some good questions, which I hope I answered to their satisfaction.

The meeting agenda ranged from financial reports to rule discussions to tournament dates and beyond. The region secretaries are a key link in the chain that connects all the schools in our state with each other as well as the MSHSL.

The gathering of region secretaries is more informal than meetings of the MSHSL board of directors. The secretaries sit around the six-sided board table, with Class A representatives on one side and AA folks on the other side of the table. They sit next to each other in order, from Section 1 through Section 8.

Throughout the group’s wide-ranging discussion, one thing was clear: student-athletes – and providing them with the best possible experiences -- are always the focus of the region secretaries as well as the MSHSL.

John Millea is on Twitter at twitter.com/mshsljohn

Whither the Weather? It's Perfect4/5/2010
It’s a quiet day here in Minnesota, with many schools closed on this Monday for an extended holiday weekend. But whether school is in session today or not, there is one theme that spring sports participants around the state will agree on: this is the finest weather imaginable.

Winter retreated early this year as spring came in like a lamb and has remained all warm and fuzzy.

“I can’t remember a spring this great,” said Bucky Mieras, athletic director and baseball coach at Orono High School. “It’s been fun, we’ve been outside.”

Most spring sports teams were able to practice outdoors as soon as the season began, rather than working inside while waiting for the weather to improve. Most teams are already involved in competitions; Thursday is the first available competition date for boys’ and girls’ lacrosse.

This weather is a far cry from 2008, when the spring was cold and wet across Minnesota.

“It’s going fantastic here,” said Minnewaska Area athletic director Bill Mills. “It’s as good as I’ve seen, especially relative to two years ago when it was something like Armageddon every day.”

Orono and Minnewaska both are home to defending state team golf champions; Orono has won the past two Class AA boys’ titles and Minnewaska is a four-time defending girls’ champion (A in 2006 and 2007, AA in 2008 and 2009).

“They were out pretty much right away,” Mills said of the Minnewaska girls’ golf team. “The course here opened March 27. The last time I remember that happening, I was in high school and that was more years ago than I care to remember.”

If there is any weather concern today, it’s a lack of rain. The state has been dry for an extended period, and concerns about forest and grass fires are growing.

“That’s our only issue,” Mieras said. “It’s too dry. That sounds crazy but it’s honestly the truth.”

Rain is forecast to fall beginning tonight, and no one would be overly upset with some precipitation at this point.

“It’s incredible for me to say this and I’ve never said this before and maybe I never will again, but we need rain,” Mills said. “It is bone dry. If we get a little over the next couple days, that’ll be fine with everybody.”

John Millea is on Twitter at twitter.com/mshsljohn


Arizona Boys' Volleyball Report4/1/2010
I had a great time today watching the Sunrise Mountain Mustangs defeat the Williams Field Black Hawks 3-0 in a varsity boys' volleyball match.

As I wrote here on John's Journal yesterday, Arizona -- where I am spending some time off this week -- does indeed have boys' volleyball as a spring sport. The regular season starts in early March and ends in late April. The Arizona girls' volleyball season is in the fall, as in Minnesota.

The two teams I watched today (including a relative who plays for Sunrise Mountain; nice job, Erik) are far apart geographically in the Phoenix area. If there are no traffic concerns, it takes about an hour to drive between the two schools. Sunrise Mountain is in Peoria (northwest of Phoenix) and Williams Field is in Higley (southeast of Phoenix).

I picked up a Williams Field springs sports calendar while paying my admission at the gym. The school's spring sports are baseball, softball, boys' volleyball, boys' and girls' tennis and boys' and girls' track. Those seasons start as early as Feb. 19 and the last regular-season competition is May 7.

There clearly are no Minnesota-like spring weather concerns in the Phoenix area. But on the flip side, the temperature in Minneapolis as I write this is 70 degrees; in Phoenix right now it is 60 degrees. Go figure.

John Millea is on Twitter at twitter.com/stribjohn

An Odd Prep Sports Outing3/31/2010
Hi, readers of John's Journal. I'm taking some time off this week for a long-ago-planned vacation in Phoenix. Something came up while we're here that's an interesting twist on the prep sports we are accustomed to in Minnesota.

I was talking to a relative who lives here, and he has a child who play high school varsity volleyball. His child is a boy, however. Yes, Arizona has boys' prep volleyball, with a spring season. So on Thursday evening I'm hoping to venture to a nearby high school and see a match.

I'll report back right here on what I see.



Championship Saturday is Here3/27/2010
The teams from Sebeka and Minnesota Transitions are warming up in front of me at Target Center and the Class 1A boys’ basketball state championship game will begin shortly.

It’s going to be a great day of hoops. The games are being televised by Channel 45 and streamed online at 45.grandstadium.tv

I’ll be posting halftime and final scores on my Twitter feed as well as on “MSHSL” on Facebook.

Let’s get this party started!

John Millea is on Twitter at twitter.com/mshsljohn