"You'll never get ahead if you don't take care of what you have." - Doris Waddell, RIP

A historic building on our U of M-Morris campus - morris mn

A historic building on our U of M-Morris campus - morris mn
The multi-ethnic building was the original home of the music department at UMM. (B.W. photo)

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Manska in groove with 3's in victory

Tigers 60, Belle Plaine 40
MACA hiked its win total to six with a 60-40 win over Belle Plaine on Thursday, Dec. 27. The Tigers worked out to a 31-21 lead at halftime en route to this round #1 win in the St. James Tournament.
It was a day for Logan Manska to shine. Manska connected three times from beyond the three-point line. These built his point total to a robust 17 which was team-best.
A whole lot of Tigers scored. Jake Torgerson joined Manska in double figures with his 13. Jake connected for two 3-pointers, a department where the team numbers were a solid six of 12. Tyler Henrichs had the other '3'.
Henrichs and Austin Dierks each put in seven points. Nic Vipond scored five points, John Tiernan four and Lincoln Berget three, then we have two Tigers each adding two points to the mix: Tom Holland and Chandler Erickson.
In total field goals the Tigers made 20 of 43 tries. In freethrows their stats were a solid 14 of 21. Their rebounds totalled 23, a department where Berget led the way. Erickson led in assists with five and in steals with three.
The win continued a quite impressive skein of success for the orange and black crew going into the new year. Their 12/27 win was their sixth straight, a streak that began after their opener loss to BBE. So they had a 6-1 record coming out of Thursday, and among the wins was that gem of an upset over top-ranked Litchfield.
Belle Plaine was cold in three-point shots, making one of eight. They were 15 of 49 in total field goals. Zach Oestreich was team-best in scoring with 13 points. He also snared six rebounds.
A quite secondary aside: Yours truly once wrote a song about Belle Plaine: "When the Snowbirds Come Back to Belle Plaine."
Ahem. . . "When the snowbirds come back to Belle Plaine, they seem so unfamiliar that you'd swear they'd been in Spain."
I guess you have to hear the melody. - B.W.
Boys hockey: MBA 9, Fairmont 2
The puck got dropped for an MBA versus Fairmont game on December 27. This was no time to sit idly and feel content with a plump stomach from Christmas snacks. Indeed, the Morris Benson Area boys were focused and swift as they glided up and down the ice in the River Lakes Tournament.
The 12/27 game was in the consolation semi-finals. MBA was right on with its execution at game's start. The Storm seemed literally a storm in the opening period as they achieved a 4-0 lead.
Darion Helberg put the puck in the net first. The 1-0 lead was achieved at 2:10. Then the score became 2-0 as Brody Gimberlin scored a shorthanded goal at 4:19. The Storm could beam about a 3-0 lead when Mac Beyer scored assisted by Gimberlin at 4:40. Beyer did his work shorthanded too. Riley Blake pushed the MBA advantage up to 4-0 with a goal at 10:28.
On to period No. 2: Blake got the puck in the net at 1:24 with assists from Corey Goff and Chad Schwarz. Then it was Tanner Picht scoring at 3:50.
The Storm outscored Fairmont (the Cardinals) 3-2 in the final period. Beyer scored the period's first goal, assisted by Picht (at:35). Grant Becker scored Fairmont's first goal. Taner Gimberlin of the Storm got the puck in the net at 3:29. Helberg scored at 7:42 with assists from Tanner Mikkelson and Taner Gimberlin.
Matt Lytie scored Fairmont's second and final goal of the contest. The Storm could celebrate this 9-2 win, just as pleasing as a favorite Christmas gift.
Austin Crow was the Storm athlete working in goal. He stopped 12 shots of the 14 tries. He dueled vs. Austin Crow who saved 47 among 56.
Viva Storm hockey and Morris Area Chokio Alberta hoops!
- Brian Williams - morris mn minnesota - bwilly73@yahoo.com

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Bittersweet holidays for those drifting

Holidays are very hard on unemployed people. I might not even shave on Christmas Day.
Holding a job is harder today than it used to be. That's because technology has wiped away so much of the work that used to be tedious. People used to complain about being bored at work. What a nice "problem" that would be today.
People are stressed. They manage information or data systems that are extremely powerful.
Today we respect all jobs. If a job is legal and you get paid, it's to be respected. I remember being at the Willmar McDonald's with a friend in the mid-1970s and seeing an older man working there. My friend said "how would you feel if that was your father?"
How would I feel? No judgment is called for of course. That's the outlook today. In a previous time, "flipping burgers" or carrying out groceries might be cause for disparaging. We're more civilized today, naturally, but people are burning out in their jobs.
Jobs are being cut by bean counters who seem to have no feelings about it. The world seems to be run by business school graduates who just push numbers around. Many social commentators say the middle class is pretty much gone.
Much of our anxiety is offset by tech-driven stuff that entertains us. Cheap entertainment is like an opiate.
I have been unemployed since June 2 of 2006. The passage of time seems staggering. I don't know what the future will bring. I had hoped to get some interest from bank CDs but that has fizzled, trampling on my self-image further. I always felt that if all else fails, FDIC-insured bank accounts could give you some foundation. Indeed we can't count on anything in this world.
My last 3-4 months at the Morris newspaper remain etched in my mind. As it turned out, the mid-point of 2006 was the exact time when newspapers began realizing they were under special pressure or competition from the new media. It's exactly when a panic point was reached. They didn't die overnight the way some experts thought was going to happen. Certainly there has been retrenchment.
Cutting and consolidating have done much to give that business at least a temporary reprieve. Even technology, the "enemy," has helped create efficiencies. "Analog" photography used to be a big headache for newspapers. This department was problematic and expensive for newspapers. It seemed Rube Goldberg-like. I have likened it to shooting a torpedo from a World War I submarine. By WWII killing had become much more efficient.
One of the reasons so much romance surrounds the U.S. Civil War is that it was the last war where the killing was done by human beings, before technology wrought so much efficiency.
The Morris newspaper retrenched. It became once a week in its publication timetable. It was twice a week the entire time I was there. The news product has been slashed considerably. While there was considerable grousing about this at the time it was announced, the public has largely accepted it (not totally though).
The public has apparently accepted the idea that the family of a deceased individual should pay a fee to have an obituary published "on paper." There was no charge at all when I was there. In those quaint times it was assumed the newspaper would publish obits as a news service.
People paid for advertisements in order to keep their business brisk - to inform customers and potential customers. Today there's more emphasis on spending to support those "sig" ads, congrats spreads and other such stuff. In other words, there's some sort of accomplishment the community should be proud of, and there's a gesture page with as much as 3/4 of the space consumed by nothing more than a list of businesses.
Why are those business names there? Is it because they care so much more about this accomplishment than others? I suspect it's because they were willing to get their checkbook out and pay the newspaper. I'm sure the newspaper's owners in Fargo ND are happy. It's vital for those of us in Morris to support the North Dakota economy. I guess "frakking" isn't enough for them.
One prominent media analyst, Allan Mutter, thinks we'll see a generational shift at some point. The older business owners of today, over 50, who have their habits ingrained in an earlier time, a time when you just shrugged and supported the local newspaper and radio station, will pass on the torch. On come the younger people who have grown up in a media universe so much different. They will want to target their prospective customers more economically and efficiently.
With a newspaper you buy an ad that's only effective for a week. Then you're expected to buy another one. And on and on. Younger people will see waste in that. They will see newspapers as a one size fits all product that is cumbersome. They will want to use platforms that are more sustainable, that don't need such constant maintenance. No need to talk to an ad salesperson who comes through the door once a week.
I wasn't just a victim of changing times when I left the Morris paper in 2006. It has been difficult for me to try to write about this. I was given directives for the sports department that weren't practicable, thus I think this document could be described as harassing in nature. Many of the key directives weren't even implemented. Management had no real intention of implementing them. The idea was for me to depart.
I think it could have been handled differently. But we live in a time when the likes of Bain Capital do their thing and raise few eyebrows. What leverage does the working class even have anymore?
I plan to write more on the directives that were thrown at me toward the end of my Morris Sun Tribune tenure.
- Brian Williams - morris mn minnesota - bwilly73@yahoo.com

Saturday, December 22, 2012

MACA boys fashion 5-1 record, girls 5-3

Boys basketball: Tigers 58, Montevideo 48
The MACA boys took care of business Friday (12/21)at home, winning by a margin of ten over the Montevideo Thunder Hawks. It was the team's fifth win against one loss. MACA owned a 25-21 lead halfway through.
The Tigers' post attack eventually overwhelmed the visitor. MACA fans are having to adjust their thinking about what constitutes a winning point total. Bushels-full of points are not the aim of this year's orange and black crew, at least to date. On Friday the Tigers finished with 58, ten more than Monte.
A fan can fairly say it's not a highly crowd-pleasing style. But a 5-1 record would neverthelss be cause for great satisfaction at this stage of the season. The Tigers under coach Mark Torgerson are accomplishing their objective. They relentlessly worked the ball inside Friday.
A quartet of post-oriented players did much of the offensive work. Austin Dierks has been making lots of noise with his offense, at least as much as the deliberate scheme will allow, and on Friday he scored a team-high 22 points. Nick Vipond and Lincoln Berget each put in nine points. John Tiernan rounds out our listing of post players and his Friday contribution was six points.
Three other Tigers connected for points in this 58-48 triumph: Logan Manska 7, Tom Holland 3 and Jacob Torgerson 2.
Dierks applied his 6'5" frame to collect a team-best 12 rebounds. He's a senior. Vipond, a fellow senior who stands six feet-three, charged the boards to get eight rebounds.
Two non-post players led the way in assists: Jacob Torgerson with seven and Chandler Erickson with six. Four Tigers each stole the ball twice: Tom Holland, Berget, Manska and Dierks.
The Tigers were pretty quiet in three-pointers, succeeding just twice in eight tries. Holland and Manska were the Tigers succeeding with those shots. In total field goals the Tigers made 24 of 44 tries. In freethrows: eight of 16.
Monte had a decent night shooting 3's, making six of 17 tries led by Ryan Maroney and Jesse Brace each with two. Monte also did well in freethrows with ten of 16 numbers.
But the T-Hawks were done in by the methodical Morris Area Chokio Alberta offense that accentuated the post attack. Brace was Monte's top scorer with 18 points.
Girls basketball: Tigers 71, Benson 35
MACA climbed to win No. 5 in girls hoops on Tuesday, Dec. 18. The success was enjoyed by fans at our Morris Area High varsity gym.
The holiday spirit was heightened by this most decisive 71-35 win. The overwhelmed opponent was Benson. Coach Dale Henrich's squad raced out to a 37-9 halftime lead. MACA outscored the Braves 34-26 in the second half.
The game was described as a West Central "inter-conference" game. Does that make it conference? Please don't confuse me. I found out shortly into volleyball season that the "north" and "south" designations were wiped away. This was after I had already reported on Minnewaska Area being a North foe and thus non-conference. I always thought it odd that 'Waska would be non-conference. A fan needs to do his homework. I wonder if the fall and winter alignments differ.
Anyway. . .
Three Tigers scored into double figures in the resounding Tuesday success. Beth Holland's shooting eye was most true as this Tiger put in 19 points. Kaitlin Vogel put in 13 points and surely made grandpa and grandma Mike and Shirley happy.
Becca Holland attacked the basket for 12 points. Attention all other media people: Differentiating between the Holland sisters by using first initials doesn't work!
Kudos to the Tigers' defense Tuesday. Coach Henrich had to smile about his team limiting Benson to four field goals and one freethrow in the first half. The Braves were stunned. 
Emma Peterson, a Brave who often shines with her talent, made her mark before this game was over, leading her team with 18 points and a very impressive five three-pointers. The Tigers had just too wide an array of weapons for Peterson to keep her team in the game.
Becca Holland was a weapon beyond her 12 points scored, as she topped three other stat categories. She snared eight rebounds followed by Vogel with seven. She co-led in assists with MaKenzie Smith; each had five. Nicole Strobel contributed three assists. Becca co-led in steals with her sister Beth; each had four, while Smith came through with three.
The Tigers' three-point shooting was maybe adequate, not scintillating. Here, three different Tigers had successes: Smith, Beth Holland and Courtney Gades. The Tigers were three of eleven in three-point shots. In total field goals: 31 of 69. In freethrows: four of six.
Following the Holland sisters and Vogel in scoring were: MaKenzie Smith with seven points, Tracy Meichsner with six, Abbie Olson and Moira McNally with four each, and Nicole Strobel and Courtney Gades with three each.
Emma Peterson made all but one of her team's three-pointers. Alexa Nissen made the other. Peterson had four rebounds and two assists.
The Tigers came out of the night at 5-2.
Boys basketball: Tigers 51, Lac qui Parle 44
The Tigers made their presence felt with their deliberate style and also with winning on Tuesday, Dec. 18. The opponent: Lac qui Parle Valley.
It might not be the kind of basketball that promotes throngs of fans coming through the turnstiles. One fan even told me that the recent win over Litchfield, while significant (given Litch's No. 1 ranking coming in) was rather boring to watch much of the way. That's one person's opinion.
Winning is a way to wipe aside some of those entertainment concerns. And win is what the MACA boys did on Tuesday, Dec. 18, playing at Lac qui Parle.
The Tigers didn't really burn the nets with their 51 points. I can retire that expression for the rest of this winter perhaps. But win they did, 51-44 over the host Eagles at that gym/school out in the middle of nowhere.
The Tigers had to try to neutralize Dylan Erickson. Erickson came at the Tigers with 23 points, but none of his mates scored in double figures. Erickson's 23 points was game-high.
The Tigers did fine in three-point shooting with five makes in 14 tries. Jacob Torgerson and Logan Manska led in that category, each with two successes. Chandler Erickson got the refs to thrust their arms upward once with his "three."
Lincoln Berget was the top rebounder, snaring seven. Torgerson and Erickson were top assist producers with five each.
The Tigers led 23-17 at halftime. In total field goals the orange and black squad finished the night at 21-for-46. In freethrows they were four of nine.
Let's roll up our sleeves for the scoring list. Manska and Austin Dierks each scored 12 points. Chandler Erickson put in eight points. Jacob Torgerson and Berget each finished with six. John Tiernan scored four points and Nick Vipond three.
LQPV did decent in 3's with their five of eleven numbers. In total field goals the Eagles were 18 of 40. Erickson had three of the three-point makes while Sawyer Bohn and Brandon Hill (Bart's son?) each had one.
Girls basketball: NL-Spicer 51, Tigers 28
The Morris Area Chokio Alberta girls were on the road Thursday (12/20) to vie with a team that had yet to lose.
The Tigers carried their own above-.500 credentials into the night. But host New London-Spicer showed the tools that brought them their 6-0 mark. The Wildcats got their win No. 7. MACA failed to get NL-Spicer figured out on this night.
The score at halftime was 29-13. And at the end: 51-28.
The Tigers are still over .500. Coach Dale Henrich's crew came out of Thursday at 5-3.
Playing at New London, MACA retreated back into a slump in three-point shooting. They went zero for eight. They made 13 total field goals in 53 attempts. In freethrows: two-for-four.
The Wildcats put up three-point tries time and again. They got a pretty big harvest from this, making ten shots in 27 tries. Their total field goal stats were 18 of 54.
Wildcat Taylor Thunstedt made four three-pointers to shine in that category. Taylor's point total was 19, team-best. She also grabbed four rebounds and contributed seven assists and four steals. Lydia Kieft made three three-pointers for the host, and finished with eleven points.
This game marked the end of the Tigers' pre-holiday phase. They'll resume action on January 4 (home vs. Paynesville).
MaKenzie Smith and Tracy Meichsner each stole the ball three times. Meichsner executed three assists. In rebounds it was Abbie Olson topping the list with her nine followed by three of her mates each with seven: Smith, Beth Holland and Kaitlin Vogel. We can't list anyone making a three-point shot, sorry.
On to the scoring list: Beth Holland and her eight points were at the top. Olson and Vogel each produced five points. then we have five Tigers each with two points: Cassey Hickman, Smith, Becca Holland, Meichsner and Moira McNally.
- Brian Williams - morris mn minnesota - bwilly73@yahoo.com

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

MACA boys seem quite in the groove

The MACA boys have made some strong statements in recent play. Following a 1-1 start, MACA put that one loss (to BBE) behind them decisively, not only winning on back-to-back nights, but downing the No. 1-ranked team in Minnesota. What a way to set a positive tone for the holidays! Ho ho ho.
On Thursday (12/13) the orange and black crew turned back Eden Valley-Watkins, then on Friday, all eyes were on our Morris Area court for the team to take on that top-ranked foe: Litchfield.
The Tigers slayed the Dragons. They took a 3-1 record and tons of optimism into the weekend.
Tigers 49, EV-Watkins 34
The late-week contests were a homestand. Coach Mark Torgerson's Tigers treated the home fans to this win by 15 points in a game with a physical complexion.
Austin Dierks was smooth and effective for the MACA cause. He's emerging as a premier player in the area and on this night, he posted a double-double. He put in 17 points and grabbed ten rebounds.
MACA was in quite good shape halfway through this one, leading 24-12. They outscored EV-W 25-22 in the second half. So the final horn sounded with MACA up 49-34.
The success came despite some sputtering in 3's. The MACA numbers in this department were three of eleven. Jacob Torgerson had two of the makes and Tyler Henrichs the other. In total field goals the Tigers made 22 of 49 tries. The freethrow stats were a chilly two of ten.
Dierks was the only Tiger scoring in double figures. Jacob Torgerson came close with his nine points. Henrichs was third on the list with his seven points. John Tiernan scored six points, Lincoln Berget and Logan Manska four each, and Chandler Erickson two.
Dierks' ten rebounds put him atop that list and he was followed by Berget and Tiernan each with six. Erickson dished out six assists and Torgerson added three.
Bret Mattice connected for two 3's for EV-W, and he led their scoring list with 16 points.
Both teams came out of the night at 2-1.
Tigers 46, Litchfield 42 (overtime)
Austin Dierks was a leader with a heavy dose of poise Friday. Crunch time saw this Tiger in a primary role. Only a tiny shred of time - under a second - was left in regulation when Dierks connected for a field goal from the lane that tied the score. Keep reading because you'll learn the role Lincoln Berget had in this too.
The Tigers were going to have a chance to beat the top-ranked team in Minnesota! Dierks' four-footer knotted the score at 38-all.
The atmosphere was electric at our Morris Area High varsity gym. MACA was seeking to get past a Dragon program that finished runner-up in Minnesota Class AA last season. Those Dragons entered Friday judged to be the best team in AA for 2012-13, at least so far. The Tigers are going to have something to say about that. They won the Friday battle 46-42.
Overtime saw coach Torgerson's crew outscore the Dragons 8-4. Dierks stayed very much in the groove, scoring half of those eight points.
The halftime situation gave little indication of what would unfold. The Tigers actually seemed stymied in the first half. They were held to twelve points! Meanwhile the Dragons owned 21 points.
The Tigers had to be undaunted. No way were they going to be fazed by Litch's lofty reputation. That's only on paper!
The caliber of defense seemed strong from both teams. Also, MACA ball-handling won a fine grade - always a great sign for this early stage of the schedule. The Tigers committed a mere seven turnovers while Litch had nine.
Fans were on edge of seats in the final moments of regulation. Lincoln Berget was handed the ball for two freethrow shots. The situation: MACA down by two.
Shudder, the first one misses! But this just calls for an adjustment of tactics. Now Berget must do what a hoopster normally strives not to do: miss a shot. He executed just as needed, then it was time for Dierks to get aggressive. Dierks snared the loose ball. He proceeded to put up that critical shot from four feet with but a fleeting moment remaining on the clock.
It's good! It's good! It's good!
Now the orange and black crew had to summon some more focus for the OT. The Tigers crept out front by four but Litch was able to whittle that margin back down to one. The time remaining: 12 seconds.
Berget was tested at the line again. He wasn't to be denied and he put the ball through the twine twice. Kudos to Berget who finished the night with six points, seven rebounds and two steals. Kudos of course to Dierks who scored 13 points and snared nine rebounds. The scoring list was led by Jacob Torgerson who scored 14 points, so kudos most heartily to him too. Hey, kudos to the whole Tiger team!
John Tiernan added seven points to the mix. Logan Manska scored four points and Tyler Henrichs two.
Jake Torgerson made three of the team's four successful three-pointers. Manska made the other. The four long-range successes were among twelve attempts.
Total field goals saw the Tigers make 17 of 45 tries. They were eight of 18 in freethrows where of course Berget had quite the memorable night.
Dierks, Berget and Chandler Erickson were top rebounders with nine, seven and six, respectively. Torgerson and Manska each dished out three assists while Erickson had two. Berget and Manska each stole the ball twice.
Two Dragons scored in double figures: Zach Kinny with 14 points and Riley Pater with eleven. Kinny made three 3-pointers. The Dragons were 17 of 36 in total field goals and three of six from the freethrow line.
This was just Litch's third game of the season. It was non-conference.
Word is, this wasn't the most entertaining game to watch, at least until the closing stages. It had a slow complexion because of deliberate tactics. Also, Litch apparently wasn't full-go with its personnel. I write this not to tarnish the Morris win but to suggest we can't take anything for granted down the road.
Viva Morris Area Chokio Alberta boys basketball for 2012-13!
- Brian Williams - morris mn minnesota - bwilly73@yahoo.com

Sunday, December 16, 2012

A Christmas in 2012 shrouded by tragedy

We're on the home stretch toward Christmas. This is the start of the last full week before we celebrate.
There's a cloud because of the school shooting out east. Maybe finally, people on the political right will allow us to begin discussing gun control at a certain level. So often those people shout us down, saying "we shouldn't politicize this tragedy," or "how can you talk about this before the funerals have even been held?"
Politicize? That's when you do something for selfish motives. You or someone close to you is trying to get elected. Discussing moves toward greater public safety should always be accepted.
No one should cower in fear of the NRA. But politicians do. When Jeb Bush signed the "stand your ground" law in Florida, a representative of the NRA was in the group standing behind him. Maybe a mega tragedy like the one out east will change the winds of discourse.
Bush said "stand your ground" simply reflected "common sense." Politicians need to think deeper about all the ramifications of what they're signing.
Gun control, or rather reasonable limitations on firearms, might have to grow as a movement like "Occupy" - in other words, outside the usual political channels. Our political leaders in Washington are way too beholden to the NRA. The NRA seemed like a reasonable organization when I was a kid. Today it's a true extension of the political right. Like all organizations with political influence, I suppose money becomes their tool for getting heard.
Ron Christie got agitated on a cable news panel after the Aurora CO shooting. He got agitated because he felt a fellow panelist who wanted to weigh gun control had interrupted him. You would think this was a 50/50 debate in which anti-gun control had to be given equivalent respect. Christie is a sharp-edged righty who appears on MSNBC occasionally to battle the progressives. He has been an associate of Dick Cheney.
The recent election demonstrated that America may not be "center-right" as has been suggested often. The Founders gave plenty of room for both sides of the political spectrum to assert themselves at times. We're not frozen on the political right despite what the mid-term election of 2010 suggested.
The political right shows more muscle now than when I was a kid. Let's re-phrase that: They're capable of making more noise. That's because they're so good at seizing the electronic media. When I was a kid, the more extreme voices were marginalized better.
The Aurora CO event wasn't enough to silence or mollify the political right. They put on their usual boxing gloves. They re-visited the altar of the Second Amendment.
Tea party candidate Sharron Angle talked in 2010 about "Second Amendment solutions" to political obstacles. When I was a kid, people like that wrote columns for little flyers that ended up underfoot on the street. Today they have Fox News.
Connecticut seems to be different. The tragedy there hasn't caused the rabid Second Amendment advocates to rise in a unified chorus. They aren't going on cable news shows to shout down or vilify those who disagree. Maybe Connecticut was "one too many" of such incidents (as if previous ones didn't sound a clarion call).
Or, most likely, it's because the victims are kids. 
What are all the ramifications? I suspect that one, which hasn't been discussed much yet, is an increased swing toward home schooling.
I have always had mixed thoughts about home schooling. It seems to favor the more affluent among us. It's not an option for a lot of people. I like home schooling because it protects kids from bullying and such. Kids might be able to learn more at their own pace. Kids who are slow in maturing can get some insulation from the kind of hardships they'd experience in school.
I fear the Second Amendment crowd might try to push attention toward mental health now. We must resist an unreasonable stigma placed on people with mental health issues, who of course are a surprising percentage.
Much has been done toward school security. I remember the surprise I felt the first time I saw that the principal had to wear an ID tag around his neck in the school hallway. I remember being surprised the first time I discovered the west doors locked at St. Mary's School in Morris. They decided only the east doors would be open, I suppose to make it easier to monitor all those entering and exiting. Still, there was nobody directly watching.
One of the arguments for building the new school in Morris was that the old one had too many entrances. A public letter was shared about that. That poor old school. It went from being a perfectly acceptable school to a disgrace and embarrassment in just a couple of decades. And it hasn't even been torn down yet. If those walls could talk.
I wonder if St. Mary's was afraid of sexual predators. It turned out one of their biggest issues in this regard was with one of their own pastors. That's how these things go. 
When I was a kid, we were taught to be wary of "strangers" who fit a stereotype: a shady-looking man in a trench coat offering you candy.
The biggest threats are often within an institution from people capable of looking very respectable. That in fact is part of the tactics to get access. The Hancock school had a horrible experience with a predatory sort of individual who had to be sent to prison. That individual was a high-achieving coach. He could've  been nabbed earlier, many people feel. Why wasn't he? A prominent main street person in Morris told me once: "He won."
So, the Second Amendment isn't the only "altar" I'll cite in this post. "Winning" in sports is the other.
Can we put the cloud of the Connecticut tragedy behind us to embrace Christmas? I suspect we won't.
Our family has completely stopped the material side of marking Christmas. The only way we mark it now is by going to church. We have too much "stuff" in our house now - we've lived here 50-plus years - and don't need any more (from gifts). Oh, maybe a box of chocolates would be OK.
We dine at the public Christmas dinner at our church, First Lutheran.
We just had the second straight Thanksgiving with no community dinner. In fact, no restaurant in Morris that I know of, was even open. This is an issue for the Morris community. We want to be hospitable. Not everyone has the benefit of getting together with family on a holiday. We don't want some senior citizens to be stuck throwing together a sandwich to get through Thanksgiving. I have contacted an activist with our Chamber of Commerce about this.
Christmas may have a cloud over it this year. But the birth of Christ has always been shown to transcend.
Happy holidays and Merry Christmas for 2012!
- Brian Williams - morris mn minnesota -bwilly73@yahoo.com

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Three-pointers start falling in girls' triumph

(Note: Most of this post focuses on the MACA girls but the last portion reviews the boys' win over Minnewaska Area. - B.W.)
Tigers 48, LQPV 33
Morris Area Chokio Alberta is staying comfortably over .500 in early-season GBB play.
The latest chapter was the 48-33 win that coach Dale Henrich's squad achieved Tuesday (12/11) at home. The squad arrives at mid-week with a 4-2 overall mark.
Halftime saw the home team up by a margin of three, 19-16. Then the Tigers took care of business pretty decisively in the second half, outscoring the Lac qui Parle Eagles 29-17.
Beth Holland was at the fore of the offense with her 14 points. The Tigers made 15 field goals and finally got untracked in three-pointers, where futility had marked their game previously. Let's applaud the three Tigers who accounted for those 3's: Becca Holland had two of them, sister Beth had one and Tracy Meichsner had one.
Seeing those three-pointers start to fall was one of the most gratifying aspects of the night. If there was a "jinx" it's gone!
Abbie Olson snared seven rebounds to lead there. Meichsner was the assist leader with four and she also topped the steals list with five.
The Holland sisters achieved double figures in scoring, Beth with her team-leading 14 points and Becca (lifted by her timely 3's) with 12. Then we have Meichsner with seven, Nicole Strobel and Kaitlin Vogel each with six, MaKenzie Smith with two and Courtney Gades with one.
The MACA defense held LQPV to eleven field goals and just one three-point make. The Eagles did make 10 of 13 shots from the freethrow stripe.
The Tigers will host Benson on Tuesday, Dec. 18.
Litchfield 56, Tigers 29
The MACA girls had a Saturday assignment on December 9. Playing in Dragon country of Litchfield, the Tigers succumbed to the Dragons.
It was a rough outing for the MACA cause as no individuals scored in double figures. Tracy Meichsner came the closest with her nine points. The Tigers were defeated in the 56-29 final score.
Litchfield is a team to watch this winter. Their Saturday success upped their record to 5-0. MACA came out of the weekend at 3-2.
MaKenzie Smith and Adrianela Mendez each put in four points for the orange and black. Nicole Strobel scored three points followed by four of her teammates each with two: Courtney Gades, Beth Holland, Abbie Olson and Kaitlin Vogel. Cassey Hickman had one point in the scoring list.
The Litchfield scoring list was topped by Greta Walsh and her 15 points. She also stole the ball five times. Bailey Koch put in 14 points (and had eight rebounds) for the victor.
It was an awful night for the Tigers in three-point shooting. They truly put up bricks as shown in the 0-for-13 numbers. In total field goals they were a chilly nine of 32. Credit the Dragons' defense. The green team is hitting on all cylinders.
The MACA freethrow numbers were eleven of 18. Olson and Vogel each collected four rebounds. Holland and Hickman each had three steals.
Litch needs work in three-point shooting too. Both teams were errant, and in Litch's case the numbers were 0-for-9. But the Dragons were hot in freethrow shooting where their stats were 16-for-18. Litch led at the half 31-15.
Tigers 44, Minnewaska 25
Fans at the home court enjoyed an MACA triumph over rival Minnewaska Area on Thursday, Dec. 6.
The Tigers were headed in the right direction at halftime, up 22-11. They outscored the Lakers by eight in the second half, en route to the final winning score of 44-25. It was the Tigers' third triumph of the young season.
Coach Henrich had to be excited about his team's defensive play. Holding a foe to eleven points in a half underscores this attribute.
Tracy Meichsner was all over the court contributing in a variety of ways. Her point total: 14. Her rebounds numbered seven. She likewise contributed seven assists. For good measure she stole the ball three times.
The Tigers were conservative shooting, putting up just three tries from beyond the three-point line. They made none of the three. In total field goals their numbers were 18 of 43. In freethrows they were nearly perfect at eight-for-nine.
Beth Holland was second high on the team in scoring, putting in eight points. MaKenzie Smith and Nicole Strobel each scored six points. Abbie Olson and Kaitlin Vogel each contributed four points to the winning cause, and Becca Holland had two.
Meichsner's seven rebounds were followed by six from Olson. Smith set the pace in steals with her six.
The Lakers were led in scoring by Veronica Weisel and Sydney Joos each with seven points.
The Lakers came up empty in 3's like MACA. None of 'Waska's seven attempts from long-range found the mark. 'Waska was nine of 50 in total field goals.
Tigers 52, Montevideo 38
The Morris Area Chokio Alberta girls achieved their second victory on December 4, playing on the road against the Thunder Hawks of Monte.
Coach Henrich liked what he saw in the first half as his orange and black squad charged out to a 28-17 lead. There was more to like in the second half when MACA outscored the Thunder Hawks by three, 24-21. So the final score was 52-38.
There were hints of a slump in three-point shooting. The Tigers did have one make from three-point land, in six tries.
The total field goals category showed the Tigers making 21 of 55 tries. In freethrows the numbers were nine of 13.
Two Tigers paced the scoring attack by reaching double figures. Tracy Meichsner was at the fore, scoring 12 points. Nicole Strobel put in ten. MaKenzie Smith and Katie Holzheimer each added eight points to the winning mix. Beth Holland scored five points, Kaitlin Vogel four, Becca Holland three and Abbie Olson two.
The balanced nature of the scoring was an encouraging sign. This attribute helped negate the 17 points put in by T-Hawk Ashley Hoehne, who led all scorers on the night.
Strobel topped the rebound list for MACA, collecting seven, while Smith collected six. Smith set the pace in assists with five.
Boys basketball: Tigers 60, Minnewaska 48
The MACA boys fought to their first victory of the young season on December 7, prevailing at Minnewaska Area. Coach Mark Torgerson's squad downed the host Lakers by 12, 60-48.
The first half saw the Tigers climb out to a 28-23 lead. They outscored the Lakers 32-25 in the second.
Austin Dierks looked to be in mid-season form. Dierks put in 22 points and collected 14 rebounds.
The Tigers overcame a cool three-for-eleven showing in three-pointers. They were just shy of 50 per cent in total field goal shooting where the numbers were 24-for-49. Their freethrow stats were nine of 16.
Minnewaska had some strong suits like the play of Austin Lieser who scored 20 points and added five rebounds and six steals. Another strong suit for the host was freethrow shooting where they were sizzling with 22 of 27 numbers.
The Tigers worked to overcome a 2-0 'Waska team that was striving to seize on home court to keep its "mo." The rivalry always seems to bring out a top-notch effort by both squads.
The Lakers were sizzling in freethrows but fared in the opposite way in field goal shooting. They made just 22 per cent of their tries.
The MACA three-pointers were made by Chandler Erickson, Tyler Henrichs and Logan Manska. Manska with his nine points put him second-best behind Dierks in that department. Jacob Torgerson and Erickson each put in seven points. Nic Vipond added six points to the mix. Henrich added five, and Lincoln Berget and John Tiernan two each.
Torgerson dished out eight assists followed by Erickson with five. Torgerson with his three steals led there. Cold as 'Waska was in field goal shooting, they managed to make four three-pointers. They were by Lieser, Derek Burd, Austin Giese and Austin Ostrander.
The Tigers came out of the game at 1-1, the Lakers at 2-1.
- Brian Williams - morris mn minnesota - bwilly73@yahoo.com

Monday, December 10, 2012

Still time to nix new Vikings stadium?

Here it is: King Solomon's Temple.
Is there still time to cancel the new Vikings stadium?
Minnesotans became suckers thinking this thing was a necessity. A drumbeat grew. The state's main newspaper, to the extent we're influenced by newspapers anymore, became a shill. Daily we were bombarded with messages of urgency.
Zygi Wilf, owner of a team valued at $975 million, 2/3 of it debt-fee, lobbied the political system. Mark Dayton, a Democrat who should have more sound sensibilities, got distracted by a "need" that was highly questionable.
The kind of maniacs who fill the Metrodome started showing up at the state capitol, faces painted purple.
Minnesotans don't seem to have any real reservations about the Metrodome. The reason we all became suckers is we bought into the fear the Vikings would leave. We suckered for the pushiness of business tycoons. These are not bad people, it's just that they always seek the best deal possible. And people on the other end have to be careful.
Now we're committed to a new monstrosity that could well be a bridge too far. It's to cater to a sport that has storm clouds over it. The erratic and dangerous behavior of players is a warning sign. Two incidents very recently have resulted in lives lost.
God knows what all these players are doing to themselves to deal with the pressures of the game. The injuries they withstand are sad and needless. The public is gradually awakening. Kids will be less inclined to play football.
Fans at NFL games seem to be less civilized. A recent guest op-ed in the Star Tribune illustrated this concern nicely. Families might be advised to stay away. And this is what we wish to publicly subsidize?
The new stadium appears to be a done deal. We might wish to contact Jay McNamar, our new state representative, about this.
State Senator Bill Ingebrigtsen was a chief sucker for the new package, so much so he has taken heat from the Minnesota affiliate of the Koch Brothers (conservative) organization. Isn't Ingebrigtsen a Republican?
What will happen with football between now and 2016 when the new monstrosity will open?
The pro game is already being tinkered with, to try to make it "safer." Is that worrisome? Think of the Pro Bowl. Fans joke about that game being such worthless entertainment. Why is it so? It's because the players are being coached in such a way as to minimize injury.
As the NFL gradually adjusts its game to protect players from the kind of health issues now bringing lawsuits, will the game stay recognizable? Could it be that our love affair with football is based on seeing players fly around like uninhibited missiles, almost like they aren't really human beings?
They most certainly are human beings. And they have been getting significantly bigger, stronger and faster over the past couple of decades. It's because of our demand for the sport. It's a demand that can completely waylay our state government.
How I want to curse that air of inevitability that hung over the stadium "discussion." Governor Dayton himself had to put on a purple jersey and do a dance at the end.
There aren't too many forces that can intimidate NFL owners. But one is lawyers. So, the NFL is seeking to tweak its game without arousing too much concern. An early focus is kickoffs. Now there's a proposal that would have the ball placed at the 30 yard line, where a team (the team having just scored) would face fourth down and 15 yards to go. They can punt or go for it. No kickoff return at all.
An article in the Sporting News says "there is no doubt that concern about player safety will continue to impact how the game is played in the NFL." That sentence should be highlighted by all taxpayers in Minnesota.
Booms are known to go bust. NFL football has been a stupendous boom. The bigger they come, the harder they fall. Heavyweight boxing basically died. Football could drop a few rungs in terms of the class it exudes. Are we talking "ultimate fighting?"
Will the better educated segment of the population stop supporting the sport, stop having their kids play it? Will their eyes start shifting away from it? Believe me, this can be accomplished.
In the meantime, we've made a heckuva commitment to the new Solomon's Temple of a stadium.
Zygi Wilf might feel like a car salesman who has just managed to sell a car at sticker price. Come to think of it, Red McCombs actually was a car salesman.
The stadium will cost $975 million. Can we rule out cost overruns? Tragically we are going to tap gambling revenue. Have we no collective conscience anymore? It's a regressive tax. And can we count on it anyway? Estimates are tipping lower, to the tune of $18 million below end-of-session estimates.
Electronic gaming options won't be implemented according to the hoped-for timetable. The daily revenue per gaming device won't meet original expectations, we're told. As a result, the stadium reserve balance will be taking a hit. It's projected to be $47 million by the end of 2017, a drop of $36 million below end-of-session estimates.
The state is responsible for a $350 million chunk of Solomon's Temple funding. We're taxing the expansion of charitable gambling. Make way for electronic pulltabs which have been called the crack cocaine of gambling. They can't be up and running overnight. Virginia gave the nod for this gambling trick three years ago, and only now are the machines humming.
The Vikings are responsible for a $477 million chunk. Zygi Wilf has a net worth of $310 million. Fans weren't passive when the team "surveyed" them on seat licensing. Hoo boy. Are we finally starting to show some judgment as if we're buying a new car?
NFL owners would rather swallow shards of glass than borrow money and pay interest. Fans have actually raged about the proposed licensing ploy. Up until now, fans will shake their heads about shakedowns like this, but capitulate. I say "up until now" because I think the very troubling new revelations about the game are having reach. Fans are truly re-thinking.
The Vikings will get some money from stadium naming rights. I have joked with a friend that Marshall Fields should step forward. Then we'd have the name "Marshall Fields Field." (LOL, I guess.)
The naming rights could net $10 million a year over 10 to 20 years.
After pulling the levers just cited, the team will still have $326 million to be responsible for. The NFL itself has a loan program called G-4 which the team could use. So, pencil in another $163 million from this. And the rest? Bank loans? We're entering iffy territory with the whole proposition. Which is fine if the state hadn't gotten involved.
But now Mr. McNamar and his colleagues at the capitol are going to have to answer for all this. Forget Mr. Ingebrigtsen. He doesn't even answer emails. Even when a local Republican party official prodded him to answer my email, he didn't. The friend even forwarded me a copy of the email he sent the state senator. No dice.
Grand schemes involving money are notorious for going awry. It's one thing to map out where money is going to come from for something. It's something else to actually get that money. In the end, don't rule out the state's general fund coming to the rescue. The state's leaders won't really care about this. They just want to make sure the stadium gets built.
The big question is whether the fans really will swarm in. Or, will this be the colossal white elephant?
The Vikings, Twins and Gophers all used to play in the Metrodome. Wasn't that a quite fine arrangement? You can argue that baseball is best played outside. I'll concede that. But football? It's a quite cozy place for this sport which more and more looks highly dubious on its own merits. Building new infrastructure for it is not advisable. The Clinton-Graceville-Beardsley football team recently won a state championship there. I'm sure they were spellbound by the surroundings, quite justifiably so.
We have suckered for the allure of "something new." We have caved in the face of the likes of Wilf who has car salesman sensibilities. Nothing wrong with this savvy, just that the people at the other end must know their own interests too.
Is Dayton losing some sleep over all this? He should be.
- Brian Williams - morris mn minnesota - bwilly73@yahoo.com

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Was Bob Costas giving cover to the NFL?

Was Bob Costas trying to make the issue gun control when it should have been football head trauma? Football head trauma threatens the very existence of the game. Friends of the deceased Jovan Belcher say he was taking painkillers while dealing with "the effects of debilitating football-related head injuries," according to Derek Flood of Huffington Post.
There was a time when TV networks would show the "halftime show" of football games. Eventually the powers that be felt this was drab. So we'd get more football banter along with a maximum allotment of commercials.
Fine, because halftime is essentially idle time when fandom can go to the fridge for another beer, according to the stereotype.
I wasn't watching Sunday night (12/2) when fandom was reminded that halftime needn't be devoid of anything substantial. It was a "halftime show" of sorts. But there was no drum major. We had Bob Costas taking centerstage.
Costas fancies himself a poet laureate of sports. He can come off as pretentious. I suspect there might be a picture of Costas in with the definition of "pretentious" in the dictionary.
Howard Cosell once wore that mantle. Cosell helped make "Monday Night Football" a big deal. It was such a big deal, the entertainment puppeteers decided we need Sunday night football too. And then - gasp - Thursday night football. On Thursday the players are playing without adequate rest. Thus they can be more susceptible to injury.
Actually football players are at risk no matter what their approach. We have allowed these guys to become gladiators. The media are uncovering the dark side of the sport pretty reliably.
Can the American public react as fast as it should?
Costas could have highlighted these concerns from the soap box he's given. He could always say "we don't know all the facts yet."
But the murder/suicide by Jovan Belcher fits into a disturbing pattern. The Kansas City Chiefs linebacker shot and killed his female friend on December 1, then drove to the Chiefs practice facility and killed himself in front of head coach Romeo Crennel and General Manager Scott Pioli in the parking lot.
Left behind is a three-month-old baby girl.
The first alarm bell about such things might have been the O.J. Simpson murder trial. A later civil suit assigned blame to Simpson. We have demonized Simpson. But did we fully understand him?
At a time when we should be connecting the dots, Costas did an op-ed on the air inspired by the horrible-beyond-words Belcher incident. But he didn't highlight head trauma or the desperate things athletes might do to deal with it. He didn't talk about the aggressive behavior which can be a symptom of a brain deteriorating from game impact. He didn't talk about the tremendous toll taken by repeated blows to the head, or the "subconcussive" damage over time which can sneak below the usual detection.
He didn't talk about the "warrior mentality" that causes players to try to disregard symptoms. He didn't talk about the pressure to continue playing because of the huge amount of money at stake. He didn't talk about the intoxicating lure of the game when the players are young.
The players play through pain because football emerges as the best thing going for them. As high schoolers they can find themselves adored. No other pursuit comes close to affording this reinforcement.
Costas could have shed light on all of these angles. It would have been a watershed moment.
But Costas is part of the sports establishment that represents a rolling gravy train. It's a golden goose. Revelations about football are only going to be pulled out if our legal system comes through as it should. Legions of former players are suing. We'll learn more facts.
Costas with his substantial platform could have advanced the discussion. But he's not going to obstruct the cash cow. He won't bite the hand that feeds him. So, I have to ask about his Sunday halftime sermon: Was he putting forth a diversion? Was he giving cover to the NFL?
At a time when football's issues should be zooming to the forefront, highlighted by another tragedy, we're told the issue is
. . .gun control?
Costas is nothing if not smart. He knows full well that there is probably no issue so invested with emotions as gun control in America. His NBC masters surely know this.
Was the Costas presentation a diversion that would almost instantly suck attention away from the pertinent questions (regarding the propriety of football) and revive the gun control debate as if a sudden brushfire?
One can almost imagine the parties to this muttering "whoa Nellie" as they got the script ready.
Now, it's questionable whether Costas was really advocating for tougher gun laws or if he was just speaking generally about our "gun culture." Anyone can give a pass for the latter point.
But Costas' presentation was interpreted as a basic gun control screed. So we saw the totally predictable explosion of emotions. All the Floyd R. Turbos came out of the woodwork.
The talk radio strain of conservatives erupted. The Fox News puppeteers were spoon fed a prime topic for their on-air barking dogs. Fox News did not disappoint.
We heard the asinine argument that  "we shouldn't politicize a tragedy" (by suggesting more firm gun measures). It was the Aurora CO aftermath redux.
The Floyd R. Turbos seem to have the momentum in our culture today. (The name refers to an old Johnny Carson comic character - a parody on hayseeds.)
It's as if conservatism is the default correct political position in America today. Speaking for gun rights arouses no special consternation at all. But speaking for greater controls puts you on the defensive to a great degree. Liberals have to "explain themselves" all the time. All this is ironic when you look at the true intent of voters, the broad expanse of which seems to be quite fine with liberalism (the re-election of Michele Bachmann notwithstanding).
The defensiveness seems to be caused by the media. Here we have what David Frum calls the "conservative entertainment complex." It's nothing short of a huge circus tent. Costas threw them a bone, a bone with lots of meat on it.
Talk radio hosts went to work with an extra bounce in their step. They could salivate over this tidbit from someone they could call part of that horrible "mainstream media." And NBC no less, which has affiliation with the Darth Vader-like MSNBC which has liberal or progressive comment show hosts.
The conservative entertainment complex went to work on the Costas spiel just like those movie gremlins attacking those chicken pieces after midnight. All of which obscured what should have been the main focus of attention: football's horrific consequences for its practitioners.
Frank Gifford said shortly after the O.J. Simpson arrest: "If O.J. did this, that's not the O.J. I know." Well, it wasn't the O.J. Simpson Gifford previously knew, because I would suggest the effects of brain deterioration were being felt at middle age.
Simpson played runningback which meant he spent his whole long career being attacked by defensive players who got their paycheck according to their ability to make tackles. We watched it without asking questions.
We're more likely to be asking questions now. Which we might have done to a much greater extent if Costas hadn't created this diversion - this side road into gun control. Was it a carefully orchestrated and manicured maneuver to protect the interests of pro football?
Where money is concerned, people's normal ethical impulses can break down. The NFL logo might just as well be a big dollar sign. Storming the ramparts of such an institution may be difficult if not impossible. But the NFL cannot exist if kids all over America stop playing the sport. We are seeing progress at that level.
The NFL will do all it can using its vast resources to keep the game alive. Costas is a member of that machine by extension. The "name" media people must have the blessing from up on Mount Olympus.
Costas is "dancing" as if having pistol shots fired at his feet.
The decline of football will be gradual but it will come. In the meantime there will be horrific stories. We get too soon old and too late smart.
Update: Costas appears today (Wednesday) to be fumbling the football, as it were, continuing to discuss the subject. He stumbles with some facts where gun control is concerned. He also sounds a bit regretful about having done anything Sunday. This is unbecoming a big name media person like Costas. The apparent impulsivity behind his Sunday speech might also underscore the point I'm making here. Sometimes diversions need to be created quickly.
- Brian Williams - morris mn minnesota - bwilly73@yahoo.com