FROM MY BACKYARD
By Byron Higgin
I’ve covered literally hundreds of kids and teams at state tournaments.
Among them have been state champs, runnersup and the also-rans.
But never, until now, have any schools had two teams in the state tournament at the same time. This is a new one for me as Minneota enters both the boys’ football and girls’ volleyball state tournaments this week.
It could get tricky if the Minneota girls make their way to the finals.
Not sure how any of us can get from St. Paul to Morris, clear across the state when the volleyball state championship begins at 1 p.m. and the football game at 6 p.m.
But that’s a problem for another day. I hope it happens.
This miraculous week was filled with wonderful moments.
For Steph Hennen, our volleyball coach, this is her first trip to the state as a coach.
One of the prize moments came when the coach whispered to me in an interview, “I shouldn’t say this, but maybe it was good we lost to Canby the first time.”
Of course, she meant the loss of that game may have helped her team step up and beat the Lancers in the playoffs.
After the section championship, Leah Fadness showed me the entirely worn out socks she’s worn since the last time Minneota won the state title. Sam Hennen would have shown me hers, but said Leah’s were worse.
Fadness and Hennen are not only fantastic volleyball players, but they’ve been great leaders for this team.
The two of them showed how to step up in the finals against Windom area when Leah had 11 of 11 serving with 19 digs and 17 kills. And Sam was an incredible 24 of 24 serving with three aces and still had 13 digs and eight kills, plus a block.
The nicest part about this pair is how they play the game with a smile on their face and love of the team in their heart.
And I’ll never forget the way junior Ashlynn Muhl stepped up and slapped the ball like her life depended on it as the Vikings put away their old nemesis, Windom Area.
When I asked Ashlynn about her fantastic hitting spree she said, “That’s what I had to do.”
One of my great moments came after they beat Windom Area in the first game. I looked into the stands and saw friend Jon Guttormsson and he gave me a big smile and a thumbs up. Jon sure is enjoying his new-found retirement.
TURNING TO football. Before the game I ran into four friends from Clarkfield, all of whom were there to cheer on Dawson-Boyd. And it felt so funny because here I was covering Minneota and they were supporting the Blackjacks. The last time we went to a game together we were all pulling for Clarkfield.
Anyway, they say nothing can beat, “The heart of a true champion.”
And what I saw out there on the football field was a real champion.
Minneota was down, and counted out by many. But they never gave up. Even Coach Chad Johnston admitted he was squirming a bit. But he knew something. “The kids didn’t want to walk off the field like they did last year,” he said about the loss a year ago to Kerkhoven-Murdock-Sunburg.
When I saw Mike Hammer, playing practically on one leg, yet blocking his opponents, I knew there was a terrific heart beating amongst those Viking athletes.
When I saw Sam Derynck throw a beautiful pass down the sidelines and Will Kurka gathered it in, hang on and ramble 85 yards for a touchdown, well, I knew there was a lot of soul on the field.
Later I asked Sam if he’d ever thrown a pass like that before and he said they’d never practiced it at all. It was a perfect strike and a great catch
When Beau Buysse got up from holding for a kick and rolled left, then tossed to Kurka for two points and the first lead of the game at 14-13, well, the heart was beating even stronger.
Everyone agreed, this was one great football game. Dawson-Boyd was not only a worthy opponent, but an outstanding team.
What a weekend! I can’t imagine topping that — unless, of course we win two state titles. I’m sure not going to doubt these kids.
LAUGH A LITTLE: Never Trust a Street Gang in Heaven.
One day St. Peter saw a street gang walking up to the Pearly Gates.
St. Peter ran to God and said, "God, there are some low-life street gang members at the Gates. What do I do?"
God replied, "Just do what you normally do with that type. Redirect them."
St. Peter went back to carry out the order, but he suddenly came running back and yelling, "God, God, they’re gone! They’re gone!"
"The street gang?"
"No, the Pearly Gates!"
- Joke shared by Beliefnet.com member JaluS. Shared by Mascot reader Bonnie Hanson.
THOUGHT FOR THE WEEK: As my Ole Pappy used to say, “I care BIG about you!”
Ole Pappy wasn’t one to do things in a small way. He liked most everybody and wanted people to know it, so he, “Cared BIG about you.”
Do I want another road trip?
OUT & ABOUT
By Gayle VanVooren, Editor
The next time I hear “Do you want to go on a little road trip,” I may just think about it a little longer. This last one was a doozie!
My sister asked the question — and being a good sister — I immediately said “Sure, why not!” And then really didn’t think about it all that much.
After all, there was a baby due at any time, I was busy at my job, there was work at home to get done, a new Pastor moving into town ... lots of irons in the fire.
Well, the baby was a little late, and that threw me in a tizzy. She was born just two days before I was to leave on this road trip, and almost didn’t leave town. But as it turned out, everything worked out.
My sister and I took off on a gloomy Friday morning and hit I-29 and headed for Kansas.
A stop here and there, a fill-up with fuel for the vehicle and ourselves, and we found ourselves at our aunt’s doorstep very close to supper-time.
We sure had a good visit during that time, as my sis and I aren’t able to get together as often as we’d like.
We ate snacks, talked about our families, and were in awe of all the “color” that was gifted us during our trip south.
The freezing temperatures here sure ruined a beautiful Fall. But lots of rain and warmer days have allowed the “coats of many colors” to adorn the trees in our southern states.
A slip around a corner gave one a panoramic view of golds, oranges, reds and every shade between.
That was a gift.
We spent some quality time with my aunt and uncle, and then headed on the second leg of our journey.
As we were in the furthest southeastern part of Kansas, we had to hit another interstate and head across country to get to Oklahoma City, OK, to meet another family friend.
We took a couple misturns here and there, but really had no problems going through the many large cities.
We met our family members for dinner and began the process of repacking the vehicle for the ride home.
What I didn’t realize was that our friend’s large dog would be riding home with us. Trooper is a beautiful chocolate brown pit bull. He must weigh close to a hundred pounds, and is quite intimidating.
I was quiet and on alert very quickly.
Came to find out — this dog thinks he’s a lap dog! He’s the most mild animal you could imagine, and spent the entire trip home laying on the back seat on a blanket, with his head on his owner’s leg.
But it was just comical to see the reactions of strangers as we piled out of the vehicle — that dog would have stopped any would-be thieves.
We spent a night in St. Joseph, MO on the way home, but otherwise were in the vehicle for the duration.
As we began to tire of the time in the car, the talking grew less, and the radio became more of an entertainment factor.
But it was a good chance to catch up with family, to see crops in another part of the country, check out the working oil wells, and witness not-so-good drivers along the way.
If you were down south last week, perhaps you saw us in the flying yellow Hummer on a mission.
We got it done!
Did they think I was a terrorist?
ODDS AND ENDS
By Jon Guttormsson
Barb and I returned about a week ago, spending some time at the Arizona home of our son, Jerry, his wife Michelle, daughter Bobbie Jo and son Marshall.
They live just slightly south of Mesa. (I think that it's south, but could just as easily be north, far as my sense of direction is concerned.)
Our intent was to help Jerry with his preperations for Halloween — he specializes in "terrorizing" the neighborhood kids — of which we were very successful.
We decorated his porch, or rather front entrance area, with cardboard sheets and then used chalk to give the impression of entering an old fashioned castle. It turned out quite well, considering that Jerry had his "imported" help from Minnesota.
Halloween was on a Saturday, if you will recall, and the following Sunday we had a return flight back to Sioux Falls, with Jerry accompanying us on that trip.
Our son Dale met us at the airport, where he and Jerry left for a hunting trip to Wyoming, and Barb and I back to this area. However, the most interesting part of this return flight was the security personnel actually letting us get on the plane in the first place.
If you will recall, I mentioned previously that we had the Halloween "terror party" on Saturday night, and then left Sunday afternoon for our flight back to this area.
Prior, and on Sunday morning, we "dismanteled" the Halloween cardboard castle setup, plus all of the assorted decorations that we had used and attached to the house.
For the removal of the staples that were used, I borrowed a regular plier fron Jerry's work bench in his garage.
After all of the staples were removed, I just placed the pliers in my back pocket, and promptly forgot all about it.
All went well, until after our arrival and going through the security x-ray machine.
Barb went first.
Then came my turn and half way through the machine threw a "fit". Buzzers went off, lights flashed and the attendant held up his hand and said "Stop — please back up again to the red line on the floor, and then try again.” Which I did, with the same results.
"Sir," said the attendant, “Please remove your shoes, your belt, wrist watch, keys or any change in your pockets and try again.” Which I did, tried to go through again, same thing. Darn machine pretty near zapped me — I thought maybe it would "tazzer" me too.
"Sir" (I was starting to like that ‘sir’ part) please check your pockets again — you must have some metal on you, or we will have to do a further search". Now that got my attention — I didn't like the sound of that. I was starting to worry that he might drop the "sir" part.
I once again checked my pockets, this time back ones too. Sure enough, I dug out that darn plier. "Betcha this would do it," I said to the attendant. By this time, he was starting to lose his sense of humor.
"Sir", (here we go again) he said, "Could I have that instrument?" "That ain't any instrument", I thought to myself, but luckily kept my mouth shut. I handed it over to him, and finally made it through that darn machine.
A couple of minutes later, the attendant walks over to me and gives me the pliers back. "That's okay to keep", he says, "It's not over seven inches long and doesn't have any sharp edges," he said.
"You can take it on the plane."
"Fine," I thought to myself, "I can probably play fix-it man on the plane, too. In case anything should go wrong".
Prior to boarding I gave Jerry his pliers back. Now we'll see how he does on his return flight back to Arizona.