Barely a break for players, coaches

The advantage of having a successful sports team is that the athletes get to compete longer than most of other teams. The disadvantage of having a successful sports team is it disrupts or delays the next sports season.
With Minneota's volleyball team advancing all the way to the Class A state championship, the girls only had two days off before beginning basketball practice on Nov. 15. The majority of the athletes play both sports.
With Minneota's football team also having a banner season and reaching the Class A state championship, head coach Chad Johnston hasn't been able to devote his full attention to preparing the girls basketball team for the upcoming season where he is also the head coach.
"It was a lot of bouncing around," he said. "My full attention was on the football team, but I was able to spend some time with basketball team whenever I could."
Al Panka, who has been an assistant basketball coach for the past eight season, ran the practices in Johnston's absence, with some assistance from longtime assistant coach Dale Kockelman.
The girls' basketball team's first game of the season was Tuesday at home against Ortonville.
After the Vikings' state football championship game against Mayer Lutheran this past Saturday, Johnston headed out for a couple of days to go deer hunting and give himself a mental break before returning to coach the girls' basketball team after school on Monday.
Matt Myrvik, a longtime assistant football coach, has been in a similar predicament as he is also the head wrestling coach. And his assistant wrestling coach, Matt Buysse, is also an assistant football coach.
"My focus was on football first," said Myrvik, who is in his third year as head wrestling coach. "Obviously, there was day to day stuff to get done for wrestling. I have all the confidence in my assistant coaches that were working with the wrestlers while I was with the football team. Kris Fier, Wade Gillund, Drew Bouwman, and Brock Buysse all covered wrestling during that first week of practice."
There were only 14 wrestlers available for the first day of practice on Monday, Nov. 22 as the football team geared up for the state tournament.
The wrestlers were originally scheduled to open the season Saturday, Dec. 4 in the Litchfield Invitational.
"We have decided to drop our first two events this year, the Litchfield Tournament and the Benson Triangular," Myrvik said. "We are currently looking to add to our schedule to replace those events."
There are around 15 football players who also are out for wrestling.
"We will be giving the guys coming off of football whatever they need off," said Myrvik. "There will be a mandatory couple of days and then it will be up to them as to where they are health wise, we do have certification which will have to be done by Dec. 8."
The boys' basketball team, coached by Dave Busselman, also began practice on Monday, Nov. 22, but were also missing a few players who are on the football team.
The boys' season opener is slated for Friday, Nov. 10 at home against Yellow Medicine East, barring a reschedulement.
The girls' basketball season preview will appear in next week's Mascot. The boys basketball and wrestling previews will appear the week after.

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