FROM MY BACKYARD
By Byron Higgin, Mascot Publisher
Little did I know the kind of people I’d meet when I moved to Minneota.
There are all kinds — but mostly they are the finest people in the world.
Let me tell you about some of them.
As you know, I run into a lot of young people because I cover sports.
This past week I’ve noticed how incredibly hard it’s been for Minneota Senior Mike Hammer to sit back and watch his friends and teammates wrestle in the state tournament.
He was noticeably quiet at the annual banquet as well.
But Mike did something that’s made me sit up and pay attention.
He could have crawled off into a hole and watched television all winter. Or, he could have taken a job and gone to work. Or, he could have done a thousand and one other things after hurting his ligaments in football.
But he did none of them. Instead, he honored his commitment as captain of the wrestling team.
He was there in practice, at the meets, at every event the wrestling team entered. It had to hurt not to get the chance to wrestle.
But Mike Hammer kept his end of the bargain. He was there for his team.
I believe Mike Hammer has learned one very important fact of life. “It’s not what happens to you, but how you handle it.”
“We’ll always wonder what could have been if Mike would have been able to wrestle,” said Coach Joel Skillings. That’s exactly what we’ve all been thinking.
Then there’s another young man I’d like to honor. He’s Victor Montelongo.
Victor went out about 30 times this year and wrestled kids much larger than himself in the heavyweight class.
He didn’t do it for fun, and he didn’t do it because he was told he had to wrestle those big guys.
Victor did it because, as Coach Skillings said, “He’s a little heavyweight with a great big heart and a team attitude.” Victor is the “Little Engine That Could ...”
One final student that I admire is Adam Longtin. The senior wasn’t his team’s best wrestler. But he did earn over 100 wins. On Sunday he stood up and said, “There is no way to measure the amount of fun we had this year. Every day was something memorable.”
What a way to think about the moments you’ve just experienced.
“We went with a goal, but came home just two points short. But we made memories.”
Then Longtin looked at his former teammates, all of whom will carry on the wrestling tradition next year, and said, “This year should just make you hungry. Work hard, but enjoy. It goes by faster than you’d think.”
I’ve also been in awe of many of the teachers in the Minneota School District.
Let me single out a couple for now — and that’s Ruth Bot.
Ruth is on just about every committee possible, she gets the school annual out each year by taking most of the photos — and hardly misses a game.
She’s dependable and when the newspaper folks at The Mascot need help with a photo, Ruth always has it.
And she’s done all that and much more, year-after-year. And this year she did it while helping her new premature grandchild.
If ever I was in awe of anyone, it’s Ruth Bot.
It’s also been fun to watch teacher Jim Rolbecki.
What I like about him is his total lack of inhibition.
I guess he’s a lot like me. He’ll try just about anything. When it was homecoming rope pull time, he was out there yelling and screaming, cheering his team on.
Last week at the pep fest before the wrestling team left for state, the fest seemed a little stale ... so Rolbiecki got out, front and center and got things moving by becoming a cheerleader at center court.
Life is short and Jim Rolbiecki won’t get caught missing much of it.
There are so many more — and many of what I’d call, “Characters of Minneota.” We’ll have to reminisce about them sometime.
To all of those I mentioned, HATS OFF, and Rose of the Week to all of you. You’re special people!
LAUGH A LITTLE: One night, a torrential rain soaked Granite Falls, home of Ole and Lena.
The next morning the resulting flood waters came up above the banks of the river.
Lena was sitting on her roof with her husband Ole, waiting for help to come.
Lena noticed a baseball cap floating near the house.
Then she saw it float far out into the front yard, then float back to the house.
It kept floating away from the house, then back towards the house.
Her curiosity got the best of her, so she asked Ole, "Do you see dat der baseball cap a floatin' away from da house, den back again?"
Ole said, "Oh yeah, dats only Sven.
He said he was going to mow the grass, come heck or high water.
THOUGHT FOR THE WEEK: As my Ole Pappy used to say, “Here’s how to spell success: H-A-R-D W-O-R-K!”
Ole Pappy was no stranger to hard work.
I used to see him come home with printer’s ink rooted deep into his hands and he spent hours in the tub trying to soak the ink away.
If he hadn’t worked so hard, I don’t think I’d understand the work ethic today!