"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, February 28, 2015

What? MACA boys exit from post-season?

I'm not sure this outcome is acceptable. The MACA boys lost in the opening round of post-season. The game was played on Thursday, Feb. 26. Our fans must have left the gym in a downcast mood. Or maybe they didn't. I just assume that post-season advancement is an important goal. I'm not always on the same wavelength as the Morris community, though. I have often felt like sort of an outlier.
Maybe there's an element in the Morris community that feels we should just get the sports season over with - no hassles with long trips, trip expenditures and investment of time. No entering a gym somewhere where the sound of a pep band will split your eardrums. I have spent countless hours in such situations. I loved going to Concordia and hearing a pep band do a neat arrangement of a Blood, Sweat and Tears tune. I also remember a band version of "Centerfield," the John Fogerty tune, a tune I wish our own band played.
Jerry Witt used to kid me about how much importance I put on pep band repertoire.
Our basketball teams haven't made a significant splash in a while. Last year it was one-and-out for both. This year, we have seen the boys get cut down right away. I'm rather astonished. I'm told the Tigers were seeded second, so I suppose we played the No. 7 seed: Paynesville. Let's see, we had a record of 16-10 going in? And Paynesville had a 6-17 record? Correct me if I'm wrong on anything here. Send an email or post a comment. Please don't just lecture me on how "winning isn't everything."
Did we get out-coached? We led 34-28 at halftime. Paynesville must have made adjustments for the second half. We got outscored 46-37. So, we lost 74-71 and the curtain comes down. Ugh. It's not right.
Other seasons have ended in similar disappointment. Last year our girls team beat Minnewaska twice in the regular season, handily in fact, and then we lost to them by about 20 in the post-season opener. What's up? I'm serious. What's up?
There has always been an element in the Morris community that will diss me and mock me for making such assertions, and asking such questions. They'll say "it's only sports." But that's exactly the statement I would make: "It's only sports." If a coaching change would stimulate hopes a little, let's try it. No one is going to lose his breadwinning job. It's just a coaching appointment.
I have been trying to suggest this for years. Problem is, there is a social network in Morris that asserts that things have to be a certain way. Meanwhile I'm left out in the Twilight Zone, as it were.
Paynesville 74, Tigers 71
This was the Section 6AA playoff opener. The green-clad Bulldogs are playing today (Saturday) against Litchfield, at St. John's. (Hey, Litchfield is "green" too.)
For the record, our Eric Staebler scored 26 points Thursday against the Bulldogs. He worked hard to collect 19 rebounds. These seem like meaningless stats now. Noah Grove did quite fine, scoring 20 points. Andrew Goulet scored ten, and here's the rest of the list: Jacob Zosel (7), Sean Amundson (4) and Riley Biesterfeld (4).
Grove nailed four 3-point shots. Again, a meaningless stat. Zosel and Staebler each made one '3'. Zosel was nifty with eleven assists while Grove had seven. Grove, Biesterfeld and Goulet each had two assists.
Our field goal shooting numbers were 29 of 59. In freethrows: seven of 13.
Mitchell Weidner was a force for Paynesville with his 28 points. He connected four times from three-point range. Hayden Hengel made three 3-pointers and Toby Flannigan made two. Weidner was followed on the scoring list by Flannigan (16), Matt Quade (14), Brandon Schleper (7), Hengel (4), Tucker Wendroth (3) and Alex Kranz (2).
Morris Area Chokio Alberta fans will not be "burdened" by making the trip to Collegeville today. Seeded No. 2, we should have gotten at least three games in post-season. In theory we'd play the top seed in our third game, right? Wouldn't that be fun? I'd say so.
There are people in Morris who will gnash their teeth about the kind of assertions I'm making in this post. Go ahead, kick me when I'm down. I'm at the public library right now and just heard someone say "the officiating wasn't consistent." Oh. So the fault lies with the officiating? Was the "fix" in, or what? The coaches' feet are never held to the fire.
And I remain in the "Twilight Zone."
Leonard Nimoy, RIP. My first thought upon hearing of his death was to remember his charming song "Bilbo." I invite you to click on this YouTube link to hear this old song:
BTW I have written my own song about the great Minnesota Twin Rod Carew. Please click on this link to give this a listen, and God bless:
- Brian Williams - morris mn Minnesota - bwilly73@yahoo.com

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Girls fade in late-going vs. Goerdt, Melrose

The Tigers battled Melrose in a very close game on Tuesday, Feb. 24, here.
Click on the permalink below to read about these other recent MACA girls' games: the 53-36 win over Montevideo, the 63-53 win over Minnewaska, and the 61-23 win over Paynesville. Lots of success! This post is on my companion website, "Morris of Course." Thanks for reading. - B.W.
Melrose 51, Tigers 49
Suspense! The orange and black held a lead of five with two minutes left to play. Victory was within reach but it wouldn't stick. The Dutchmen seized the lead with just a few ticks of the clock left.
The Tigers got renewed hope with about six seconds remaining, as Tracy Meichsner stole the ball on an inbounds pass. Tracy threw the ball to Becca Holland. Alas, Holland put up a shot that missed the mark.
The loss wasn't for lack of opportunities. Indeed, the orange and black had way more shot attempts than the visitor - 25 more, in fact. Ouch! Our field goal shooting numbers were 20 of 62. Melrose made 16 field goals in 37 attempts.
So, we had four more field goals, so the next department to check is freethrows. Here we see the Dutchmen cashing in, making 19 of 27 tries while the MACA numbers were a mere four of seven.
Melrose had a two-point lead at halftime, 27-25. The second half was a 24-all stalemate. The loss put our won-lost mark at 14-11 with the post-season beckoning. In conference the numbers are 10-4. Melrose's W/L numbers are 15-11 overall and 7-7 in conference.
Emily Goerdt gave a big push to Melrose's winning fortunes Tuesday. Emily poured in 21 points. Melrose made no three-pointers. Gabi Sawyer was a reliable scorer for Melrose with her 18 points. Three Dutchmen each scored four points: Emily Tschida, Justine Revermann and Jordan Thompson. Revermann had the team-best eight rebounds followed by Goerdt with seven. Revermann and Sawyer each had two assists.
Lauren Reimers made two 3-point shots for the Tigers. Correy Hickman made two and Holland made one. Moira McNally had six rebounds and Lexi Mahoney had five. Reimers dished out four assists. Meichsner had six steals.
The scoring list shows Reimers and Hickman as co-leaders, each with ten points. Meichsner scored nine followed by Elizabeth Tiernan and McNally each with six. Holland and Lacee Maanum each scored three, and Mahoney put in two.
BTW a song I wrote in 1982 called "Country Lovin' " is online, on YouTube. I invite you to give a listen by clicking on the link below. The song is dedicated to the community of Cyrus.
Spring can't be far off!
- Brian Williams - morris mn minnesota - bwilly73@yahoo.com

Monday, February 23, 2015

Shall we privatize school bus service?

So, the school is considering contracting out bus services to a private company? Reminds me of when the county board decided to "sell" the ambulance service. A local citizen spoke up and said "huh?" He wondered if he could make a bid for the sheriff's department.
I have wondered about snow plowing services. I see all these dudes driving around in their 4-wheel drive pickups with plow attachments on the front. They could become like an army if they were put to work expeditiously clearing roads. No waiting for the city or county plows.
Have you noticed how those dudes with the plow attachments drive slower than the main stream of traffic on the open highway? Makes you have to look for clearance to pass. Are they all really on their way to go plow some snow? Or, are they just showing off?
Remember the old days when you'd alert someone about "your lights are on?" You might shout that while crossing a parking lot. I remember the first time I realized such situations weren't cut and dried anymore. Dudes would shut their cars off and have their lights stay on a while. I did the usual favor of shouting "your lights are on." I was told "no biggie," in effect. The lights would go off in due time. I think the year was 1989. I was parked near the Metrodome in Minneapolis. I remember the Timberwolves were a new team. They played only one year in the Dome.
I fully realized this new phenomenon with headlights shortly thereafter, with a friend. The friend theorized that some people with these new super-powered batteries were "showing off."
Sometimes you'll see a car parked with its lights on and it really is a problem. Sometimes it's just hard to know.
School buses are an issue. I remember when the school proposed eliminating in-town bus service. On the face of it, it seemed preposterous. The school backed off. But, think of how many kids don't avail themselves of bus service. Think of all the kids in school activities. Of course, some kids aren't.
I remember talking to a former Morris mayor who wondered if the buses coming in from the country could just stop at certain places in town on their way to the school. Could kids be required to walk a few blocks to get to a "bus stop?"
Some people in our hyper-sensitive world of today wonder if young children should even walk unattended, even for a short distance. When I was a kid, we played on our own all over the place.
The school says it has a hard time finding bus drivers. Seems like a good job to me, until you look closely. Apparently these drivers are required to call in stop arm violations. My rule of thumb as a motorist is to just take "evasive action" when seeing an orange school bus. Don't go near it. Change your route. Those drivers apparently have a pipeline right to law enforcement. Those law enforcement people are salivating over those citations that bring in hundreds of dollars.
Of course, those same citations can be a crippling financial blow to people who have the misfortune of a lapse of attentiveness when near a school bus. If I'm a bus driver, it would break my heart to have to call in a friend or neighbor.
How many people who get these citations are really driving recklessly? I would guess the vast majority of these unfortunate souls actually proceed slowly and cautiously. They just don't realize the absolute necessity of stopping. A mistake? Yes. However, I think the punishment is too harsh and humiliating. I'm sure it affects their insurance rates.
Maybe there should be some judgment applied. Was the driver showing wanton neglect of safety? Isn't there a former Morris mayor/schoolteacher who got two of these citations? Were those violations really reckless? I would assert "no." As I have written before, in the "old days" the kids themselves bore some of the responsibility for their safety. We were encouraged to "look both ways" etc. Today the kids have no responsibility, rather the onus is entirely on the motorists. That's not right.
We all need to lighten up a little. The parents of a previous generation - the "greatest generation" - assumed the world had risks. We were really just supposed to do the best we could. Our fathers might have been in foxholes in World War II. They knew what real peril was.
Today there's an effort to eliminate bullying. The best way to accomplish this? Get kids involved in activities and classes that truly engage them and don't get them lost in boredom. Boredom is the breeding ground for regressive behavior. Give kids a greater sense of fulfillment.
After about the seventh grade, I found the vast majority of my school classes irrelevant or counterproductive. I had no trouble mastering basic "arithmetic" and I memorized multiplication tables. Once algebra came along, I was stunned and became bitter. I couldn't do it. Did it matter?
It was because of the Cold War, right? We had to out-do the "Russkies," right? And so we got algebra with its "problem solving" challenges. Look, I have no interest in butting heads with the "commies." We lost about 60,000 young men and women in Southeast Asia because of this misplaced fear. I saw a documentary that showed footage of two or three young soldiers lying face down in a swamp, dead and with blood on the water around them. Do you think their parents raised them to end up like this? Imagine those men as sweet young 4-Hers.
What kind of nation would do this? Why should the nation foist algebra on its youth? Part of the problem is that the education establishment, following human nature, wants power. It gets power by making knowledge seem elusive. If it were not elusive, we wouldn't be dependent on its members dispensing it. Make students chase the carrot on the stick. Make information elusive, and society might decide it really needs you.
This whole model has been assailed, of course, by the Internet. At its root, the Internet makes information accessible - the way it should be.
Algebra and other boring, irrelevant or preachy curricula were pushed by the non-local establishment, i.e. bureaucrats. It's in the teachers' self-interest to make knowledge seem restricted or ethereal. "Let's make students scratch and claw to get through these ungodly classes. Heaven help us if students found information easy and convenient to gain, and immediately useful."
We wouldn't need all these highly-paid faculty. Well, maybe we don't need them. I think the home school movement is simply a desperate effort by parents to get away from this model I'm describing.
School buses were hazardous in my youth. That's not because of any entering or exiting dangers. Heck, kids can just use common sense and "look both ways." No sweat. The hazard I dealt with was bullying. There was a cluster of ruffians on my bus route. I remember when they started punching the ceiling just to aggravate the bus driver. Finally the superintendent himself, Oscar Miller, entered the bus one morning, recited some names, and had them come off to receive some disciplinary action.
A common bullying practice was to "flick" the ears of the kid in front of you, with your finger. That hurt unbelievably. If I did take the bus, which wasn't often, I might have to sit slumped forward and with my arms protecting my head and ears. Talk to the bus driver? If I were to be a "snitch" and do this, heaven help me. I could get beat up.
Up until age five I lived in St. Paul and was a naive and trusting kid. I never experienced bullying. Everything changed when we came to Morris. I could have been killed, even. And, the kids who killed me wouldn't have cared. They would have made up some story about how it was an accident, and to this day it wouldn't bother their conscience.
School buses were totally hazardous. As far as contracting this out to the private sector, it might be better. The private sector tends to do everything better.
Could we do this with teachers too?
If school buses were "privatized," as it were, would the drivers still be required to be like an extension of the police, calling in stuff? This is controversial. Do bus drivers really have the training to be an extension of law enforcement? If not, maybe they should knock it off. Let's just encourage kids to be careful. If we're going to take action to ensure their safety, let's protect their safety while they're on the bus. No finger flicking, taunting etc.
Why are kids so mean? Or, why were they so mean? Boredom and despair, I'd say. Trying to complete algebra assignments. Dissecting crayfish in biology class. Is it any surprise that so many highly successful people were school dropouts? They didn't have their ears "flicked." So, let's privatize bus service, and let's not stop there. Let's get rid of the teachers union.
- Brian Williams - morris mn minnesota - bwilly73@yahoo.com

Friday, February 20, 2015

MACA boys win Presidents Day game

Basketball on Presidents Day? I thought it was a holiday. What's the point in declaring it a holiday if "life goes on?" It just becomes another day when the mail doesn't get delivered. This is how the late Barry Goldwater argued against the Martin Luther King holiday. "It's just another day when the mail doesn't get delivered."
Well, the MACA boys definitely "delivered the mail" in terms of winning against Pelican Rapids. The Tigers won their Presidents Day game by a score of 83-68. It was MACA's 15th win of the season. Pelican Rapids is having a sub-.500 season.
BTW the spelling of Presidents Day has trended toward not using an apostrophe, anywhere. The Associated Press has given the push toward the non-apostrophe.
The MACA shooting numbers were 33 of 56 in field goals and 13 of 15 in freethrows. Four Tigers each made one three-point shot: Riley Biesterfeld, Jordan Arbach, Austin Hills and Eric Staebler.
Staebler was in his usual prominent role scoring, putting in 26 points. Noah Grove complemented him nicely as he often does, with 18 points. Biesterfeld and Sean Amundson each scored eight points. Hills scored five followed by C.J. Nagel, Joey Dufault and Nick Solvie each with four. Arbach and Zosel each scored three.
Staebler led in rebounds with eight. Grove led in assists with six followed by Zosel with four. Staebler stole the ball three times.
The Tigers were up 33-29 at halftime. Our second half advantage was by 50 to 39.
Blaine Gorton was Pelican Rapids' top scorer with 25 points. Tyler Honrud put in 23. Mitch Mackner had a total of seven, followed by Tristan Wald (5), Logan Knorr (3), Donovan Young (3) and Brandon Hensch (2). Wald, Gorton and Knorr each made a three-pointer. Gorton had the team-best seven rebounds. Honrud led in assists with four and in steals with five.
Tigers 81, Breckenridge 59
Eric Staebler was the dominating force for MACA in the win over Breckenridge. Staebler scored 37 of the MACA total 81 points. The Cowboys managed just 59 points. This was a Saturday (2/14) road affair for coach Mark Torgerson's Tigers. We achieved win No. 14. Breck also came out of the day with 14 wins, so they were definitely a unit to be respected.
The game seemed over by halftime. The orange and black was up 40-22.
Staebler made two 3-point shots in this triumph. Noah Grove and Jacob Zosel each made one. The MACA field goal shooting numbers were 31 of 48. We were a proficient 15 of 20 in freethrows.
Here's the complete MACA scoring list: Staebler (37), Grove (17), Zosel (15), Riley Biesterfeld (6), Andrew Goulet (5) and Nic Solvie (1). Staebler's eleven rebounds put him atop that list. Zosel led in assists with nine. Biesterfeld was tops in steals with three.
The green-clad Breckenrige crew made 24 of 54 field goal tries. Their freethrow stats were six of seven. Nate Lorenz put in 17 points for the green. He was followed by: Tucker Krueger (12), Ashton Hegge (12), Nate Blaufuss (4), Zarek Reiff (4), Hunter Aigner (2), Carson Yaggie (2), Nick Jirak (2), Steven Lipp (2) and Erik Manning (2). Krueger and Haggie each made a three-point shot. Lorenz led the green in rebounds with eleven.
Eden Valley-Watkins 73, Tigers 49
Eric Staebler with only seven points? It's not a typo. It also helps explain how MACA ended up on the short end against Eden Valley-Watkins. This boys hoops contest was played on Tuesday, Feb. 17, at home.
It wasn't surprising that the game was an uphill battle. The Eagles of EV-W are a powerhouse unit. Their win over our Tigers put them at 21-2 on the season. We came out of the day at 15-10.
The Eagles led 42-26 at halftime. At the final buzzer: 73-49. They sure found a way to throttle Eric Staebler. Meanwhile the Tigers failed to throttle Jared Streit who scored 28 points. He made a three-pointer. Brett Matice scored 15 points and Reese Jansen had 12. The list continues: Austin Schlangen (6), Jacob Streit (5), Zach Swenson (2), Blaine Fodstad (2), DeShaun James (2) and Travis Thielen (1). Streit snared 14 rebounds and dished out three assists.
The Tigers made 18 of 61 field goal tries, and were ten of 16 in freethrows. Riley Biesterfeld was the top MACA scorer with nine points. Staebler, Noah Grove and Jacob Zosel each scored seven. Sean Amundson and C.J. Nagel each scored six. Andrew Goulet scored three points, and Nick Solvie and Joey Dufault two each.
Grove made two 3-point shots and Biesterfeld one. Biesterfeld was sharp in several departments and collected five rebounds, while Nagel had four. Grove had four assists and Zosel three. Staebler stole the ball three times.
This was a non-conference game. The Eagles entered the day ranked 15th in Minnesota Class AA.
- Brian Williams - morris mn minnesota - bwilly73@yahoo.com

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

"Combat!" TV show gave us surreal world

Vic Morrow as "Sgt. Saunders"
The World War II generation has been lauded for many sound reasons. As they settled into ordinary lives after that miserable war, they were highly social people. "Bowling alone?" Forget it. They were "joiners," "clubbers" - whatever you want to call them.
Yes, "gregarious." They were gentle to a fault. They spoiled their own children. They let their own children run wild. Were they clueless about this? Oh no they weren't. I have read that this straight-laced generation was quite aware of the unfettered behavior of their kids. They wouldn't discuss it. They wouldn't acknowledge it, unless forced in some sort of interrogation by a psychologist.
Their lives were so placid in the years following WWII. Think of what they had been through. First, the truly harrowing Depression. Think of the psychological effect on you if you lost all you had. Along comes the war.
As much as we glorify everything we did in WWII, we were not eager to get into it. Of course, the Japanese gave us reason to get into it. We might forget that prior to that, the "America First" organization was quite strong in America. We wanted no part of the European or Asian conflicts.
The blatant attack by the "Japs" caused the raw revenge motive to consume our thoughts and obliterate our passion for peace. Now we were willing to give our own lives. Countless young men did. Young people might well have wondered if peaceful, reasonably ordinary life would ever bless them again.
Not only did the war end, but prosperity set in. We saw the creation of the great U.S. "middle class." People got wages that allowed them to live with high standards, certainly quite beyond what they had known previously. They had children (like me) who came to be known as the "boomers."
Us boomers didn't respect the kind of values that our parents did. We didn't take to mainstream religion at all. We either blew it off or became overly passionate about it. In contrast, our parents were "temperate," going to church on Sunday but never seeming real zealous about it. We promoted grubby clothing and loose mores on all sorts of fronts.
Our parents, having gotten through so much adversity in the mid-20th Century, weren't going to discourage us on anything. We were their coveted possessions.
War entertainment rolls out
The World War II generation had another interesting trait through the 1960s. They seemed indifferent about the WWII-themed entertainment that their children were consuming. I have long been fascinated by this.
My current cable TV package allows me to watch old episodes of the TV show "Combat!" The exclamation point was a bayonet. The show presents a rather surreal world. I say "surreal" because the portrayal of combat has limitations. We don't see the truly grisly, subhuman nature of the kind of combat that happened in France.
My generation, as adults, finally got Hollywood to straighten things out with "Saving Private Ryan." But in the 1960s, the conflict was sanitized in the way that strikes me now as unhealthy.
If an entertainment product is going to portray war, it might as well do so accurately. Otherwise, "combat" comes off as something rather like sports competition. We have the "good guy" team of the Allies against those nasty Nazis. It's true that we represented good and therefore we can justify the violence. WWII has sadly been called "the good war." Maybe that term came about in order to contrast with Viet Nam. In Viet Nam it was debatable whether we were even the "good guys." If we were, why were we so quick to grant amnesty to draft dodgers after the war?
I'm reminded of the words of that National Guard commander in the movie "Taps." Seeking to implore the rebellious young cadet, the commander said "war is just one thing, and that's bad." So, it's naturally ironic we got that stream of WWII-themed entertainment during the 1960s. Also, ironic that war-themed toys and games would be marketed so freely and with no inhibitions about the irony they presented.
Entertainment from war? There was the board game "Hit the Beach." It was the WWII Pacific campaign game in which players race to reach the final objective: the main "Jap" headquarters. Roll the dice and move a game piece. Today the game is highly prized by collectors.
"Combat!" was an ABC show
The TV show "Combat!" ran on ABC from 1962 to 1967. My God, we see men shooting at each other. They throw hand grenades. Of course the Americans had much better aim with their grenade-throwing. In fact, it's uncanny how the U.S. heroes in these presentations have such good aim with their grenades, they all should have been NFL quarterbacks after the war.
The grenades explode. Men fall to the ground. They don't writhe in pain or have internal organs protruding out, like we would later see in "Saving Private Ryan." No, they fall to the ground and are instantly presumed dead. They just lie there - faceless souls. We forget about them.
Of course, TV and movie westerns could be like that too: sanitized in order to be palatable to watch. However, boys watching "Combat!" should have been better informed on how absolutely hellish such situations were.
Rick Jason played the role of platoon leader 2nd Lt. Gil Hanley. Vic Morrow is the best-remembered actor from the series. His face was very expressive. Morrow played Sgt. "Chip" Saunders.
"Combat!" was TV's longest-running WWII drama. There were 152 hour-long episodes. The first four seasons were in black and white. The last season was in color (so we saw the "NBC Peacock").
You can spot some actors as bit players, actors who had yet to establish themselves, like Ted Knight and Frank Gorshin.
Watching "Combat!" today, you have to accept that it's a surreal and sanitized portrayal of the most unimaginable kind of conflict. A show opens and we see troops in a forest, frantically firing their weapons. They dodge about. Occasionally one goes down - a human being presumed dead.
I wonder how passionate those dastardly Germans really were, if they were really so wild-eyed about fighting for the Fuhrer, or if they were just scared young men doing what they were directed to do. I know German people and they seem quite intelligent, not susceptible to becoming knaves or fools. Nazi hysteria was a political phenomenon. Despots took over when the economy disintegrated. It could happen here in the U.S. if the bottom were to absolutely fall out from the economy.
The Nazis were destined to lose. They had to fight until they were crushed. After a certain point, they had no choice but to keep fighting. Had they ceased hostilities, after all they had done, world powers would have come and seized the leaders.
Boys like me consumed the "Sergeant Rock" comic book series in the 1960s. Franklin John Rock was the iconic war comic hero. He was the hard-as-nails non-commissioned infantry officer who led the Easy Company in the European theater. Naturally he had a propensity to find his way to the thick of the battle. He turned down promotions to remain on the battlefield.
Again it's a totally surreal world. In real life a military person tries to do everything he can to survive. Try to be a hero and you're dead. Heroes are for comic books and TV series.
Was the entertainment a form of propaganda? Was it a way of encouraging boys to become docile and enthusiastic about following military objectives if they were to arise?
We ended up not so docile. My generation vociferously opposed the Viet Nam War. The Viet Nam war-themed movies ended up much different from the Robert Mitchum jobs. We see more clearly today what war is really like.
Movies still entertain but they also instruct. They aren't like the face of the '60s which was like watching our favorite football team win.
- Brian Williams - morris mn minnesota - bwilly73@yahoo.com

Friday, February 13, 2015

Boys beat Melrose, a team with 20 wins

The margin of victory was ten as the MACA boys impressed on the basketball court Thursday (Feb. 12).
The orange and black assumed a 33-22 lead at halftime. The second half was a stalemate. The final horn sounded with the Tigers up 61-51 over the Dutchmen of Melrose, here. Fans can feel mighty encouraged by this victory. Melrose has 20 wins on the season against just four losses.
The Tigers upped their record to 13-9. In conference the going has been a little tougher as we sit at 6-8.
An important individual milestone was reached. The individual in the spotlight was Eric Staebler, who's typically atop the MACA scoring list. Ten minutes were left to play when Staebler connected on a ten-foot jump shot. These points put him at the 1,000 career points plateau. He has needed only 48 games to climb this far. He has a 21 PPG career stat. Against Melrose Thursday he produced a double-double: 26 points and 15 rebounds.
Our team field goal shooting numbers were 24 of 44. And in freethrows, nine of eleven. Jacob Zosel connected for a pair of 3's, while Staebler and Noah Grove each had one make from long range.
Zosel was the top assist producer with five while Andrew Goulet had four. Staebler had five steals and Zosel four. Here's the complete scoring list: Staebler 26, Zosel 15, Grove 9, Goulet 5, Sean Amundson 4 and Riley Biesterfeld 2.
Dillon Haider scored 16 to top Melrose's scoring list. Drake Meyer put in nine points. Then we have Cesar Cervantes with eight, Blake Gerads and Isaac Herkenhoff with six each, Colton Meyer with four and Anthony Welle with two. Haider was sharp with long-range shooting, making three 3's. Drake Meyer had one long-range make.
Drake topped Melrose's rebound list with six followed by Gerads with five. Haider had four assists. Herkenhoff, Drake Meyer and Gerads each had two steals.
Montevideo 72, Tigers 69
Eric Staebler seemed unstoppable as he put in 36 points. He also snared ten rebounds, but these pluses weren't enough to bring victory for the MACA boys on Tuesday, Feb. 10.
Playing in Thunder Hawk country of Montevideo, the orange and black got edged in the 72-69 final. Monte got its 12th win. Monte got lots of freethrow opportunities, 28, and had trouble capitalizing, making just 16, but they were able to tap other strengths.
Troy Diggins spurred Montevideo with his 17 points. Jimmy Haff was another cog for the victor with his 15 points. Isaac Douglas and Riley Emery each scored 11. Preston Herfurth put in nine points. Spencer Hildahl scored three followed by Adam Kilibarda, Bryce Maurice and Travis Breyer each with two.
Douglas and Diggins each made a '3'. Haff and Hildahl were co-leaders in rebounds, each with five, and Diggins had four. Herfurth dished out three assists. Haff and Maurice each had two steals.
The MACA data show Staebler and Noah Grove each made a three-pointer. Grove led in assists with six followed by Zosel with five. Andrew Goulet stole the ball three times. Staebler's 36 points really stands out on the orange and black scoring list. Grove put in eleven points. Goulet's total was seven. Sean Amundson added five points to the mix. Then came Zosel with four. Riley Biesterfeld, Jordan Arbach and C.J. Nagel each scored two.
- Brian Williams - morris mn minnesota - bwilly73@yahoo.com

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Boys finish strong to defeat Minnewaska

Tigers 45, 'Waska 35
The MACA boys played hard and executed well when it counted most. At one point the score was tied 30-30. This was a low-scoring game that had Minnewaska Area as the opponent. MACA outscored the Lakers 15-5 in the closing stages. The surge spelled victory in this February 6 hoops action.
The Tigers put that tie score behind them and achieved win No. 12 on the season. The final horn sounded with the score 45-35. The halftime situation was a 17-16 score, MACA with the edge. We outscored the Lakers 28-19 in the second half.
Our field goal shooting numbers were 18 of 56. And in freethrows: eight of 12.
Just four Lakers got into the scoring column. The Lakers came out of Friday with a won-lost still over .500, at 12-10.
Riley Biesterfeld made the only MACA three-pointer. Eric Staebler was at the fore of the offense, pouring in 25 points. Noah Grove scored eight points and Biesterfeld had seven. Andrew Goulet added three points to the mix and Jacob Zosel two. Staebler was a monster force with rebounds, collecting 20. Goulet collected five rebounds. Jacob Zosel had four assists and three steals, and Staebler came through with three steals.
The Lakers were 13 of 40 in field goals and six of ten in freethrows. Those four Lakers who scored were: Austin VerSteeg (13 points), Riley Thompson (9), Matt McIver (9) and Greg Helander (4). Thompson, McIver and VerSteeg each made a three-pointer. VerSteeg led in rebounds with eight.
Girls basketball: LQPV 52, Tigers 37
The Morris Area Chokio Alberta girls experienced a bump in the road against Lac qui Parle Valley. The Monday action was here. LQPV carved out its 16th win of the season at the expense of the orange and black. Meanwhile the Tigers dipped below .500 to 9-10 as a result of this 52-37 loss. LQPV's record: 16-3.
The Eagles soared to a 28-19 halftime lead. The Eagles had a 24-18 scoring advantage in the second half.
Lac qui Parle's shooting numbers were 20 of 36 in field goals and 12 of 15 in freethrows. Kelsea Lund made two 3-pointers for the visitor. Kaitlin Connor was the top LQPV scorer with 16 points. Lund's point harvest was 13. The list continues with Alaysia Freetly (8), Kelsey Kuchenmeister (6), Aundrea DuFrane (4), Taniah Tosel (3) and Haley Wollschlager (2).
Connor was the top Eagle rebounder with six. Freetly and Lund each had five assists. Lund and Tosel each had two steals, and Connor had seven blocked shots.
On to the Tigers' data: 15 of 55 in field goals and six of eleven in freethrows. Becca Holland made a three-pointer. She and Correy Hickman each scored nine points. Lauren Reimers put in eight points. The list continues with Tracy Meichsner (4), Kayla Pring (2), Moira McNally (2), Liz Tiernan (2) and Piper Gibson (1).
Meichsner went up to snare nine rebounds. Hickman dished out three assists. Holland stole the ball three times.
"Self-checkout" finally comes to Willie's
We have read about this for some time. "Human" checkout resources at stores might be judged impractical from a cost standpoint. The interests of human beings don't really matter, do they? Don't we all worship at the altar of maximum profit?
Finally, we are seeing a "self-checkout" station being installed at our local grocery store. It isn't enough that that store has a monopoly. The head-scratching never stops for trying to plan greater cost-efficiency.
Human employees can be problematic. They need bathroom breaks. They can get sick. They have to be trained in. They can quit on you. All this Orwellian mechanized stuff puts those messy little issues aside.
Checkout jobs at stores have been a last bastion for "common job" opportunities for Americans. Nothing is sacred anymore. Will all these checkout people be able to land on their feet, finding some other kind of job? I have concern about that.
I'm sure the self-checkout will have lots of issues and glitches. What about groceries that need to be weighed? I don't even want to think about it. Let's all pause and catch our breath a little.
- Brian Williams - morris mn minnesota - bwilly73@yahoo.com

Friday, February 6, 2015

Madi Greenwaldt, Streeters turn back MACA

Thursday prep hoops had the MACA girls on the short end. Fans at the Morris Area gym saw the Streeters of Sauk Centre get the upper hand in this West Central Conference basketball.
Sauk Centre is quite the high-powered unit. They have rolled over conference opponents. In overall won-lost they're a sizzling 19-1. For the record, the only blemish was at the hands of New London-Spicer.
Hoops action is intense this time of year. It's exhilarating. Wait 'til the tournament! Click on the permalink below to read about the following: the 49-46 win by the MACA boys over West Central Area, the 58-45 win by the boys over BBE, and the 75-71 loss experienced by the MACA girls vs. Litchfield. This post is on my companion website, "Morris of Course." Thanks for reading. - B.W.
Sauk Centre 64, Tigers 48
Madi Greenwaldt was quite the force for the visiting Streeters. Madi burned the nets with five 3-pointers, part of 19 total points scored. She spurred her team to a 64-48 win over our Tigers.
Sauk shot out to a 40-29 halftime lead. Greenwaldt with her 19 points topped the Sauk Centre scoring list. Madison Moritz and Maesyn Thiesen each contributed eleven points. Here's the rest of the Sauk list: Jill Klaphake (8), Kelsey Peschel (5), Mauren Thiesen (5), Rebecca Weir (4) and Jessica Rodenbiker (1).
Moritz and Klaphake each made two 3-pointers to complement Greenwaldt's five. Peschel, Mauren Thiesen and Maesyn Thiesen each made one long-ranger.
The Tigers made 17 of 48 field goal tries and were nine of 18 in freethrows. Lauren Reimers and Becca Holland each made two 3-pointers. Tracy Meichsner found the range for one successful '3'. Meichsner topped the rebound list with eight. Correy Hickman was the top assist producer with six. Reimers was aggressive and collected three steals.
Here's the MACA scoring list: Hickman (11), Reimers (10), Holland (10), Meichsner (5), Lacee Maanum (4), Kayla Pring (3), Liz Tiernan (3) and Moira McNally (2).
The orange and black squad owns a 9-9 overall won-lost record. We'll host Lac qui Parle on Monday.
- Brian Williams - morris mn minnesota - bwilly73@yahoo.com

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Reflecting on our public school through time

I remember when former Morris mayor Chet Birch talked about "the people up on the hill." Those people, in his view, sort of wanted their own sanctuary. They didn't want to be bothered. Chet's reference was to the public school. This was that grand old edifice along East 7th Street. Today that spot is as barren as all get-out.
Chet was expressing frustration about how ensconced the school was. It was like a fortress in terms of trying to shut out public opinion.
Chet could be like a lightning rod at times. As he was comfortable being a public figure, he knew there'd be slings and arrows headed his way. Life in a small community can be a messy proposition at times. Lest there be any doubt about Chet's character and vision, he was a most devoted family man. He had a son in my high school graduating class. He was concerned that people at the public school were too separated from the kind of accountability that the rest of us live with.
It was very risky in that era to become known for criticizing our public school about anything. Paranoia was part of the requirements for being employed at the school. School employees showed the kind of clannishness that might typify a third world society or even tribes living along the Amazon River.
Ever heard the term "culture shock?" As I recall, it refers to how Peace Corps workers come back to their "real" world and find that basic human traits are the same as in the most so-called primitive societies. I say "so-called" because when I was in college, cultural relativism reigned. You couldn't say anything that would imply judgment - terms like "advanced" and "less advanced." Forget it. We're all equal. That whole mindset was part of the paternalistic brand of political liberalism that reigned on college campuses, especially state colleges.
I suspect it's different now.
The Viet Nam war, which caused a lot of us to actually start rooting for the communists (not to kill but to at least prevail), has been long over. Communism and socialism have died on the vine. For now, at least. Capitalism is quite capable of failing too, as we saw in this nation back around 1930. Think the stock market will be our bulwark for all time? I have to laugh. Just read David Stockman.
Had Chet Birch's words resonated a little better, certain adjustments might have been made sooner. We had a public school system that had become staid, complacent and hugely defensive by the mid-1980s. Eventually there was an eruption of dissent from outside its walls. Like all community controversies, it had been simmering under the surface. Finally, things got so bad there was an open revolt back in about 1987 or '88. It was unfortunate and unnecessary. Chet's words should have been heeded sooner.
There was a nucleus among the teachers who had become highly aggressive in terms of union contract negotiations. Supt. Fred Switzer was very frustrated with the time all these negotiations sucked up. Yes, he told me directly about that once. Morris legend has it that he actually ended up striking a Faustian bargain of sorts. One of those union-centered people had to be mollified or appeased a little. That individual was given an administrative-sounding title and an allegedly soft job description. In exchange he'd back off from the rabid dog stance he might take in negotiations.
The appeasing didn't work out in the long run. School extracurricular languished worse than ever. It was a matter extending beyond wins and losses. If you were here, you'll remember what I'm talking about.
The slide seemed to coincide with a lapse in traditional values. To a certain extent, traditional values had come under siege throughout American society in the '60s and '70s. For example, no more "valedictorian." The term "valedictorian" was something I learned paging through old high school yearbooks at the dentist's office.
The malaise of the '70s - not that Jimmy Carter actually used that term, he didn't - was going to fade, no doubt. But as with all societal trends, the changes don't happen immediately or uniformly.
I noticed when visiting small high schools in the area that the "traditional" homecoming was totally in bloom, having escaped the shackles of cynicism of the 1970s. Morris was behind. School activities here in Morris were not embraced in the traditional way, rather there was a feeling of going through the motions or dismissiveness. In athletics the problems seemed accented. The pushback, of course, was that "sports is secondary" and "winning isn't everything." Both of those assertions are true to an extent. But Morris had seemed to fall into a real malaise.
We sat here complacently as Wheaton got the reputation of having the best county fair. Wheaton had a girls basketball team that beat our Tigers 99-15 once. Wheaton is a little town on the prairie. It shouldn't be like this. A rebellion in Morris began pushing our public school in a more positive direction. Petitions had to be circulated publicly.
An enraged school employee was allowed to do his thing at a winter sports banquet/program. Show me any other school in the country that would tolerate that. Oh well, Joe Wilson got by with shouting "you lie!" at a State of the Union speech.
A schism grew in the Morris community. I would suggest the insurgents were motivated by pure principle. I would suggest their adversaries were motivated by self-interest and fear of change. It is a distinguishing feature of government employees that they fear change.
Things settled down eventually. Today when Morris and Wheaton play in girls basketball, it's just a typical game - either team could win - rather than a political spectacle. That's nice.
How bad had it gotten? I remember a friend in financial services who said he sensed "unbelievable" resentment toward the Morris school from the surrounding small towns. Why? There was a perception, he said, that extracurricular sports in Morris were handled "like an extension of phy. ed class."
Eventually we had to start wooing students (i.e. their parents) from those small towns. Open enrollment helped bring some free enterprise incentive to our public schools.
Dennis Rettke became superintendent in Morris. It was an unenviable situation he stepped into. He brought in a coach named Chris Baxter who he felt might shake things up in a positive way. Mr. Rettke was forced into expedience. The school had to start proceeding with baby steps. Baxter never really got a chance here. He and Mark Torgerson were 50/50 for getting the head boys basketball job.
Baxter was a new face and didn't have any intangibles going for him. First he was denied the boys job. He then indicated interest in the girls job, or so the story goes. Based on the union-negotiated provisions, he actually should have gotten the girls job. He didn't, all because of the swamp of community politics. He did eventually get the girls job. Plus he had been the head volleyball coach, where initially he carried out his mission of upgrading. Coach Baxter got dragged down. I feel we never got to see the real coach Baxter. I think that's rather a shame.
Today, it seems our extracurricular is going quite fine. However, one more year of our basketball teams making a quick exit in the post-season, and there might be some grumbles. We'll see. Meanwhile, that spot "on the hill" that ol' Chet cited, where the grand castle of our school once stood, seems almost blighted. Maybe the UMM soccer fields could have been established on the playground property. The big problem with UMM expanding to the west, or course, is the cemetery.
Those soccer fields could be used by the community's youth too. It would be a great way of taking attention away from football. The more things change, the more they change.
A personal impact
My career as a journalist was hurt tremendously by the convulsions our school and community went through. I was known to have a favorable view toward Mr. Baxter. I had no personal friendship with him and had no special affinity with him in my work. My actual writing probably suggested I had some deference to him. Joe Exner said "he follows a different drummer."
True. Baxter came here from the small-school model where the talent pool is obviously smaller. You have to work harder. For the record, he came here from Cyrus. Cyrus! Today Cyrus is a nice little bedroom or retirement community. It's a distant memory, that of Cyrus having a public school through grade 12. I covered graduations there for the Morris newspaper. I'll never forget seeing a Japanese exchange student showing emotion on occasion of graduation. I had done a feature article on her. The "Cyrus Panthers" are quite gone with the wind. So are the C-A Spartans. Life isn't the same around here.
The Baxter vs. Torgerson decision became incredibly political. Once all that was done, a consensus grew in our community that we had to put all the unpleasantness behind us. This is how controversies end in small towns. The leaders insist we all must move on. I made the mistake of continuing to make "a little comment" now and then. I became stigmatized. As a result, I largely marked time through the next 20 or so years of my career. The mainstream wasn't comfortable with me.
People even learned to say there wasn't any problem at the school in the first place. A well-known local employee of a bank even defended the behavior of that person who had made that winter sports banquet an abomination. He said "you have to let them (school staff) have their autonomy." I'll even type his name here: Dick Felstul.
To the extent blame is affixed, I think it would pre-date the actual unpleasantness of the mid to late 1980s. I think it would go back to the days of that "hill" where school staff learned a little arrogance.
You have to go to the top to affix blame. A big part of the administration's job is to solve small problems before they become big ones. Shall we consider Mr. Switzer? I don't know, because he had union intransigence to deal with. Many of those problems appear solved today. Or at least they're kept below the surface where they belong. No more boycotts of the Dairy Queen.
- Brian Williams - morris mn minnesota - bwilly73@yahoo.com