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

Focus of pride in Morris MN: our school! - morris mn

Focus of pride in Morris MN: our school! - morris mn
Our school in Morris is a hub of community activity and enrichment. (B.W. photo)

Monday, November 30, 2015

MACA basketball, Storm girls impress

MACA boys basketball looked very smooth in its opener, played here. Fans were pleased seeing the Tigers take command in the first half. The halftime situation was a 28-19 lead. And when the two halves were done, coach Mark Torgerson's Tigers had defeated Brooten-Belgrade-Elrosa.
The final score was 57-43 in this November 24 contest. The stage was set for a happy Thanksgiving weekend! (I won't say "Black Friday.")
Sean Amundson and Tim Travis each made a three-pointer. Eric Staebler was at centerstage much of the time. He was an offensive machine with his 23 points, and he snared ten rebounds - both team-leading stats. Jacob Zosel dished out five assists. Robert Rohloff stole the ball four times.
Zosel joined Staebler in double figures scoring with 12 points. The list continues with Amundson (9), Philip Anderson (4), Rohloff (4), Travis (3) and Denner Dougherty (2).
The top BBE Jaguar scorer was Tanner Heinsuis with 15 points. Austin Trustheim put in 13. The Willmar newspaper reported a Jaguar with the last name Steinhoffer making a three-point shot, but no one with that name is in the scoring list. Derek Weiner made a '3' for the Jags. Austin Trustheim snared eight rebounds.
The Willmar newspaper reported that a player with the last name "Heinchess" had four assists. The first name isn't given which means his name must have been cited previously in the boxscore. It isn't, but of course we have the name "Tanner Heinsuis." Maybe it isn't wise relying on the Willmar newspaper for sports information. The standards were set very high when I did this stuff.
The Tigers will play at Melrose on the first day of December.
 
Hockey: Storm girls 10, Worthington 0
What a memorable Saturday for MBA hockey on the Benson ice! The Storm girls not only prevailed, they put on a scoring clinic as they netted win No. 1. They also put on a defensive clinic as they prevailed 10-0 over Worthington in this November 21 affair.
MBA shot out in front 6-0 in the opening period. Hanna Lindblad achieved a hat trick in that period alone. The Storm scored two goals each in the second and third periods, polishing things off nicely.
It was Lindblad scoring the first goal at 15:03 of the first. Then it was Kelsey Rajewsky putting the puck in the net at 11:03. MBA marched forward with a goal by Kayla Benson, assisted by Lindblad at 8:52. Lindblad continued the onslaught with a goal at 8:28, assisted by Kamri Kalthoff and Rajewsky. Then it was Lindblad getting goal No. 5, assisted by Holli Christians at 6:09.
Rajewsky skated in position to get the next goal which came at 4:56. Megan Kirkeide and Benson assisted on that goal.
On to the second period: Micah Summer scored a goal with assists from Kallie Watzke and Kalthoff. Watzke took scoring honors next, assisted by Rajewsky and Kirkeide.
The third period story begins with Watzke getting the puck in the net at 15:09, assisted by Summer and Whitney Demarais. Leah Thompson got the Storm to the ten-goal plateau, getting the puck in the net with assists from Rajewsky and Nicole Berens. It warms my heart to continue typing the "Berens" name in connection with Benson sports. I wonder if any "Statons" are playing sports these days.
Abbey Hoffman was the goalie in the 10-0 win. Abbey picked up 47 saves. The Worthington goalie was Bailey Kruse.
 
A nice Thanksgiving regardless
Our family had leftovers for Thanksgiving. We had sufficient food and we gave thanks for it. There was only one restaurant open in the Morris area for Thanksgiving, to my knowledge, but the price it charged for the meal was prohibitive. We would have enjoyed going for a reasonable price. Did they have a children's price?
I wonder how much food that restaurant had left over at the end of the day. I wonder what happened to it. Maybe in the future something could be worked out where the Senior Community Center kitchen could put out something for Thanksgiving. No point in that building just sitting there empty and locked up.
I'm at the senior center now typing this, recalling that last night we got a robocall notice that a big winter storm was moving in. Better stock up etc. It's around noon now and I see no sign of anything bad. Let's be careful that a "cry wolf" syndrome doesn't set in.
- Brian Williams - morris mn minnesota - bwilly73@yahoo.com

Monday, November 23, 2015

"Have a seat" captures enduring family memory

Dad with "Sandy," on portico
There's no place like home. "Sandy" was a treasured family member. He was half American Eskimo and half poodle. How I miss when my father, Sandy and I would rise very early to get a taste of the day.
On many occasions, no twinkle of sunlight yet. On TV we had two main choices: Robin Meade or Don Imus. My father would stretch out on our davenport. I would come along shortly after that and get seated in a recliner.
"Have a seat," my father would say. He said this knowing full well that as soon as I got comfortable, Sandy would come along and ask to be fed. Sandy would look at me for 3-4 seconds, and then start barking. It was a dependable ritual. When you hear a Williams family member say "have a seat," be aware it's an inside joke and you'll see a twinkle in our eye.
To help preserve these memories, I have written a little poetry. Here it is:
 
"Have a Seat"
by Brian Williams
 
My father rose before the dawn
Soon he turned the TV on
He was happy as could be
Hearing news from Robin Meade
 
Sandy was our family dog
He was like a gift from God
He was loyal to my Dad
They were partners in life's path
 
They were old and getting ripe
Having seen so much of life
Knowing wisdom is instilled
Through the years like with a pill
 
Dad had won his leisure time
Earning every single dime
Plus he served in World War Two
With the Navy's fighting crew
 
Then he followed his career
Teaching music without peer
At the U of M he was
Doing what he always loved
 
Grooming kids in "do re mi"
Capturing his destiny
Finally in his later years
He just wanted family near
 
That included our canine
Such a bond you'll never find
He and Dad were out of bed
Before the eastern sky turned red
 
We soaked in from Robin Meade
All the news that's fit to read
Robin seemed my father's friend
From her place on HLN
 
We laughed at Don Imus too
Don and his irrev-rent crew
Then he had to step aside
'Cause his words had crossed a line
 
Though he was his Daddy's dog
Feeding Sandy was my job
Breakfast was a can't-miss time
For our dog to feast and dine
 
Dad would notice Sandy's urge
From his early morning perch
He would show that gimlet eye
Sense of humor so alive
 
Breakfast was the task at hand
For the canine with his Dad
Sandy had to get his food
Then we'd have a happy mood
 
First I had to move my butt
'Cause I really loved that mutt
Dad would smile for us both
Family made us feel our oats
 
Sandy was a priceless pearl
Making full our family world
Though he had no pedigree
He had value all could see
 
Dad would never cease to joke
So soon after I awoke
"Have a seat" he said with mirth
From my seat I had to lurch
 
Finding Sandy's sustenance
Breakfast, supper and for lunch
Was a task I did uphold
With the three of us growing old
 
I could just hear Tom T. Hall
Sing a song about this all
He would surely find a smile
Watching Sandy all the while
 
Sandy had a priceless way
Sharing love throughout the day
He helped my Dad persevere
Long beyond his quota here
 
My dad would not give a speech
He would just say "have a seat"
It was like a morning chime
Etched within the mem-ries mine

Friday, November 20, 2015

Coach Holleman's Warriors gain two wins

Coach Jodi Holleman guided her Warriors to wins on Tuesday and Wednesday, Nov. 17-18. The Ridgewater (Willmar) women downed the Bethany Lutheran JV on Tuesday. Playing in Mankato, the Warriors prevailed 79-46. They took charge in the first half, jumping up 31-15. Scoring picked up in the second half as Ridgewater worked to a 48-31 advantage in the half.
The win was Holleman's first at the collegiate level. She coached the Hancock High Owls with considerable success over many years.
The Warriors played with a crowd-pleasing air, sinking 3's often. Erica Melbie led that charge with four long-range makes. Baylie Kubesh made three shots from beyond the 3-point stripe. Katelyn Durbin and McKensie Petersen each made a '3'.
Kubesh and Melbie shared team-best honors in points scored, each with 22. Kaitlynn Kienholz came through with 17 points and Jacie Selseth with eleven. Katelyn Durbin and Petersen each put in three points, and Alyssa Stern had one. Top rebounders were Kubesh (13), Selseth (11) and Kienholz (9). Durbin and Melbie each contributed three assists. Melbie had eight steals followed by Kubesh with three and Durbin with two.
Selseth could feel pleased with her double-double in the stat report.
Haleigh Weiers was Bethany's top scorer with 20 points. Taylor Schultz made two 3-pointers. Averi Cash was team-best in rebounds (11) and assists (5). Schultz had three steals.
Ridgewater could feel quite pleased with its first half defense as they limited Bethany to 15 points. Offensively, Ridgewater's second half output of 48 points brought smiles.
 
Success vs. Crown
The Ridgewater women had their resilience tested with another game the next night. This time they'd be playing on their home court. The home cooking worked for the Warriors as they prevailed over the Crown College JV by a score of 68-50.
After one quarter the score was 23-8. That set the tone for the pleasing outcome for the Warriors and their fans. Here's the individual scoring rundown: Erica Melbie (26), Baylie Kubesh (16), Kaitlynn Kienholz (17), Jacie Selseth (7), Katelyn Durbin (1) and Alyssa Stern (1).
Melbie connected on four 3-point shots. Kubesh sank two shots from beyond that stripe. Kienholz was aggressive on the boards to collect ten rebounds, and Selseth had seven. Melbie dished out two assists.
Crown was led by Charmaine Begay and her 13 points. She was one of four Crown JVers making at least one 3-point shot. Keisha Prafke led in rebounds with six, and Miranda Brueggeman had two assists.
- Brian Williams - morris mn minnesota - bwilly73@yahoo.com

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Super volleyball season ends with 25-5 record

The books are closed on the 2015 MACA volleyball season with the stellar 25-5 record. The Tigers closed out their glittering campaign Saturday (11/14) at the Xcel Energy Center, St. Paul. It was the final day of state play. The Tigers squared off against Hill-Murray in the state AA consolation championship match.
We were dealt defeat at the hands of Hill-Murray, scores of 16-25, 18-25 and 22-25. This year's edition of the volleyball Tigers is the first-ever to reach state. Memories are rich. Congrats to coach Fehr and the student-athletes.
Haley Erdahl and Riley Decker each had a serving ace against Hill-Murray. Karly Fehr put up 23 set assists. Ashley Solvie and Fehr each had an ace block. Decker dug up the ball 13 times, followed by Fehr with six digs and Brooke Gillespie with five.
The kill parade was topped by Gillespie with ten. Solvie pounded down nine kills. Jenna Howden had three kills followed by Lindsey Dierks and Carly Maanum each with two. Moira McNally added one kill to the mix.
Claire Westby had three serving aces for Hill-Murray. Hannah Angeli had 23 set assists. Brooke Zander had three ace blocks. Haley LaValle topped the digs list for the victor, with 15. Ellie Schwartz slammed 12 kills at the Tigers.
Winter sports are soon to get going. Viva Morris Area Chokio Alberta volleyball for 2015!
 
Holleman coaching for Ridgewater, Willmar
A familiar name is at the coaching helm of the Ridgewater College, Willmar, women's basketball team. It's Jodi Holleman, long a member of the UMM athletic department and also with top-notch credentials from her tenure as Hancock High GBB coach. Holleman entered the picture at Hancock after a rather notorious chapter of Stevens County sports: the departure amidst great scandal of her predecessor. That predecessor ended up getting prison time as a result of his conduct around female student-athletes at the Hancock school.
Holleman
kept the reputation of success going. She got her Owls to the state tournament. Now her focus is to get some winning momentum started with the Warriors of Ridgewater.
I like how the players have "Ridgewater" on the front of their uniforms and not "Warriors." "Warriors" might suggest some connection to Native Americans, although the title does not per se point in that direction. I dislike "Warriors" because it's a term connected to war. Sports is not war.
Ridgewater
had a sputtering start to its 2015-16 campaign. On Saturday (11/14) they fell to 0-2 with a loss to Association Free Lutheran Bible School (AFLBS). Ridgewater was on the short end of the 79-66 score. We have quarters at this level of Minnesota hoops, not just halves.
AFLBS
jumped up on the scoreboard 22-13 at the end of one quarter.
Ridgewater
had a more competitive stance in the second half. Ridgewater outscored AFLBS 23-22 in the third quarter, and got edged by just one in the fourth, 22-21. Ridgewater definitely showed talent in the loss, as Erica Melbie scored 27 points, Baylie Kubesh 15 and Kaitlynn Kienholz 14. The list is completed with Jacie Selseth (eight points) and Katelyn Durbin (2).
Melbie found the range to connect on four 3-pointers. Kubesh hit from beyond that stripe twice. Melbie had ten rebounds, Kienholz seven and Kubesh six. Melbie dished out three assists. Paige Berge topped the AFLBS scoring list with 24 points. Amy Pflughaupt made a '3' for the victor, plus she led her squad in rebounds (12) and steals (4). Berge had five assists.
Ridgewater's next challenge will be to play at Bethany Lutheran, in Mankato, at 5:30 p.m. tonight (Tuesday).
 
First Lutheran gets new pastor
You'll find me in one of the pictures of confirmation classes along the top level hallway at First Lutheran Church. I combed my hair forward on the front of my head then (1970). Don't know what I was thinking.
My confirmation class was at the height of the baby boom, so we were arranged in multiple rows. Today the church generally has just a handful of graduates or whatever they're called. The situation gets cloudy when the kids of First Lutheran and Faith Lutheran are combined.
The combining of First and Faith resources has become, at least in my mind, a sticky wicket. Maybe there should just be one church. If one of the two buildings had to be picked, it would be Faith because it's handicapped or elderly-friendly. First Lutheran is woefully deficient in that category. First has so many structural issues, I wouldn't want to specify them - too embarrassing. A sheet of ice develops in spring leading up to the elevator entrance door. It's a disaster waiting to happen.
There's a long walk from the elevator to the sanctuary. At Assumption Church you step out of the elevator basically right into the sanctuary.
It would be fun for our family to visit Assumption again for the Thanksgiving dinner, but that event hasn't been held for several years. It's a black mark for this community: the cancellation of that event, so helpful for people for whom it isn't practical to prepare a traditional Thanksgiving meal - elderly people, singles, shut-ins etc. If there were problems, they should have just been solved. If people weren't contributing enough money, then a set charge could have been established at the door. If the delivery system got unmanageable, cancel it. The solution wasn't to cancel the whole thing.
Prairie Inn used to have a buffet meal for Thanksgiving. That was discontinued. Is all of this evidence of Morris' general decline as a community? I was told there was one place we could dine out for Thanksgiving: the hospital. That shouldn't be the only choice.
First Lutheran has a row of photos of pastors who have served that church. The pastor's position has been such a revolving door, it might be impractical to continue all those photos. I recently heard a long-time member of First say: "There's no life in this church."
We have a new pastor now who in his first two weeks gave sermons that were depressing beyond any purposes for that content. I don't want to hear a story about a family dog, a beagle, wandering off one night to be dispatched by the neighboring farmer who had complained about the dog. I don't appreciate hearing a story about a kid who gets accidentally shot during some play around guns. I can stay home and be in a happier and more constructive frame of mind.
First and Faith should maybe combine and have a new church built, according to all the contemporary specifications, out along that development strip on the north end of town. How about a nice Wal-Mart style parking lot? No longer would Faith Lutheran be "the church on the other side of the tracks."
First and Faith are both located in the old residential core of Morris that is showing its age. Compare those homes to the new homes built on the east edge of town, out toward the river.
The Wednesday night "burgers and blessings" event at the Old No. 1 got canceled this week. Why? Yes, Faith had its big annual fall supper that night, but First had its supper the previous Wednesday, and "burgers" wasn't cancelled. Does all this tell us that Faith is a more significant church than First? Is First Lutheran just limping along?
I wish we could have kept Chris Richards as pastor. It isn't fair for the synod to disallow this. The synod has its own problems as with embezzling.
- Brian Williams - morris mn minnesota - bwilly73@yahoo.com

Saturday, November 14, 2015

MACA girls sweep Hermantown in state

I'm barely getting this post online before the Tigers play their final post-season match. They are warming up as I'm typing this. My task today is to review the Friday (11/13) consolation round match against Hermantown. We faced the Hawks last night. This was a Class AA consolation semi-finals match. The site: St. Paul's Xcel Energy Center.
The Tigers were sent to consolations by the defeat they were dealt by Rocori, the No. 3 seed. Against Hermantown, we not only won, we won by sweep which has been a common outcome for the Tigers. We've had five sweep wins in six post-season contests. Wow!
We enter today's match with a 25-4 season record. Today we face No. 5 seed Hill-Murray.
The Tigers swept Hermantown by scores of 25-17, 25-14 and 25-22. Brooke Gillespie sent three serving aces at the Hawks. These Tigers each accumulated two serving aces: Lindsey Dierks, Riley Decker and Cassidy Fehr. Koral Tolifson added a serving ace to the mix.
Karly Fehr was smooth in her specialty of setting, picking up 32 set assists. Dierks and Carly Maanum each had two set assists. Decker was busy picking up digs, 15 in all. Karly Fehr dug up the ball eleven times. The list continues with Gillespie (9), Dierks (7) and Maanum (6).
On to the hitting department: Jenna Howden, Dierks and Gillespie each pounded nine kills at the Hawks. Ashley Solvie and Maanum each executed four kills. Karly Fehr had two kills and Haley Erdahl and Moira McNally one each.
Hailey Menzel led Hermantown in kills with seven. Ellie Gamradt and Jordyn Thomas each had one ace block. Hailey Menzel had 18 digs for the Hawks. The setting was unusually balanced, with Cassidy Kaneski and Jordyn Thomas each getting 12 set assists. These Hawks each had one serving ace: Kaneski, Kailey Mihalik and Manzel.
Rocori is playing in the state third place match today, against Stewartville. For the title, Belle Plaine will have a showdown against Concordia Academy.
 
Adventures in TV watching
Last night (Friday) I turned to the History Channel for extensive watching. Once the news broke about the terror attacks in Paris, I knew the cable news channels would be saturated with that coverage, beyond the need for giving meaningful updates. We've seen the same thing with the occasional tragic school shootings. We sort of get the gist of what happened in short order, and then the topic eats up the news cycle.
So I turned to the History Channel. My takeaway: I think we need some special attention or scrutiny toward these sensational investigative shows. These shows actually have the potential to be very fascinating. They simply must be "on the level." It's very questionable whether they are.
Did those bigfoot hunters really capture a live bigfoot in a cage? Of course this monster got away, very convenient if the whole thing was contrived and concocted. Oh, someone left the door to the cage open. Was the monster real? If it was, if should be national news.
This little cadre of explorers should have surrounded the cage nonstop. Government should have dispatched specialists post haste, because the state has a strong interest in confirming that bigfoot is real. Is it a gigantopithecus, having survived from prehistoric times? It's not a reach to think it might be. It hasn't been unusual to discover various species thought to be extinct, like that fish the name of which I can't spell.
If the bigfoot catch on TV is a hoax, then we need regulations to rein in these shows, just like the TV quiz shows of the 1950s had to be reined in. Of course, maybe a hoax was pulled on the cadre of bigfoot hunters, in which case the latter could deny any complicity. How convenient.
Don't you think greed comes into play with these shows? They have a budget. They need to generate ratings to stay on the air. By the end of the bigfoot show, I began to feel like a fool, having been taken in by this.
Now I'm wondering about other, similar shows on the History Channel. We see this cadre of well-credentialed researchers looking for evidence of Hitler escaping Germany and going to South America. It is a highly plausible theory. Newly declassified documents actually support the theory. But can we believe what we see on TV? Are the documents a hoax?
When the group finds Nazi artifacts at a remote South America place, can I really believe they're legitimate? Could they have been planted? If bigfoot can be faked, anything can be faked. It's too bad because these shows, if done on the level, can be a tremendous asset. We must remember what their job is, who their master is. It's not science, rather it's ratings. Without ratings there'd be no show. Keep that in mind.
Update: After just checking Google, I'm now concluding that the bigfoot show was a "mockumentary." Based on that, I can no longer trust the searching-for-Hitler shows or anything else of this type on TV, which is a shame.
- Brian Williams - morris mn Minnesota - bwilly73@yahoo.com

Friday, November 13, 2015

Tigers meet obstacle in state volleyball: Rocori

State volleyball! The Tigers got under the bright lights of the Xcel Energy Center Thursday night (11/12). The program had never gotten this far before. Coach Kristi Fehr got her squad primed for the state quarter-final round. But it wasn't enough. Not quite enough.
A marathon five-game match developed, full of the emotional highs and lows that typify such matches. On the other side of the net was the No. 3 seed: Cold Spring-Rocori.
The Tigers seemed to close to taking this match. We were in fact accustomed to winning by sweep. We took game 1 by a 25-21 score. But Rocori fought back to take the second game, 25-18. Momentum swung back to the orange and black side for the third game. The Tigers prevailed 25-14, seeming to establish the qualities that would bring a triumph. But volleyball can be an unpredictable game with the momentum shifts. We were one game away from taking the match but Rocori summoned new resolve. Game 4 went to Rocori in a 25-21 final.
It would all come down to one game. What suspense! Rocori surged at the start of game 5, assuming a 10-3 lead. But Morris Area Chokio Alberta wasn't down for the count, rather we surged to score the next four points. But the Rocori Spartans would never fall behind in this game. The score stood 13-11 before MACA's hopes were finally crushed by a premier Spartan player. Eleanor Holthaus was the standout at the end. She achieved two kills to put an exclamation point on the match for Rocori, and pave the way for further Rocori conquests in state.
Holthaus, an all-stater, was a clutch performer, getting six kills in game 5.
Rocori had to feel greatly relieved getting past the high-powered Tigers. Rocori's Thursday win was its 27th straight. Now their opponent will be Concordia Academy, the No. 2 seed with a 26-6 record.
Rocori? Concordia Academy? Sounds like private schools. Many people feel concerned about this: private schools which may have assets beyond what your typical public school has. When I was a kid there was separation: private and public. I guess the private schools got the political clout to get the division removed. It's debatable whether it's proper.
Today's (Friday) semi-final match for Rocori is at 7 p.m. There were twelve total state tournament matches played Thursday at the Xcel Center. Just one went the full five games: our match. Rocori now owns 30 wins for the season, against a mere one loss.
Karly Fehr had three serving aces for the Tigers Thursday. Lindsey Dierks and Brooke Gillespie each had two aces. Koral Tolifson and Cassidy Fehr each had one.
Setting specialist Karly Fehr had 42 set assists. Carly Maanum supplied three assists and Riley Decker two. Tolifson, Jenna Howden and Gillespie each had one. Ashley Solvie contributed an ace block. Decker was at the fore in digs with 22, followed by Dierks (19), Karly Fehr (17), Gillespie (13) and Tolifson (9).
On to hitting: Here it was Gillespie showing aggressive form at the net with 20 kills. Howden came at he Spartans with 13 kills. The list continues with Dierks (6), Solvie (5), Maanum (4), Karly Fehr (3) and Haley Erdahl (2).
Abby Lieser had two serving aces for Rocori. Morgan Holthaus had 22 set assists for the victor. Eleanor Holthaus had 15 kills. Three Spartans each had one ace block: Eleanor Holthaus, Ashlan Svihel and Ashley Stang. Abby Lieser had the team-best total in digs, of 20.
Here's a review of the game scores with the Rocori numbers given first: 21-25, 25-18, 14-25, 25-21 and 15-12.
The Tigers' serving was quite precise: just three misses. Hitting errors were a problem, though. I'm sure Rocori mounted a pretty intimidating block at the net. Anyway, we had 38 hitting errors, spread among five Tigers. Rocori had three more attacks than us (180-177). Rocori gained an edge by making eleven fewer errors. Rocori showed a more balanced hitting attack. Normally that's a strong suit for the Tigers.
Three Spartans each achieved 12 or more kills. MACA came at the Spartans with frozen rope-like ace serves: nine in all.
The Tigers aren't done. We'll play Hermantown at 7 p.m. tonight (Friday) in the consolation semi-finals. We own a 24-4 record. Good luck to the orange and black.
 
"Parade of Lights" held
Back when I was with the Morris newspaper, I felt obligated to collect photo caption information all the time. I just assumed everyone would want to know the photo details. I also assumed that newspaper management would want the job done. Were I to show up at the office and say I hadn't gotten caption information, I would risk having people absolutely scream at me, calling me 100 kinds of stupid. The newspaper once had an editor who would be more courteous to Jacob Wetterling's abductor than to me. It's a line of work that can make people temperamental.
Maybe the news department people are just trying to justify their importance. Because truth is, it's the advertising department that prevails in terms of real importance, while the news department is just a trivial little matter off to the side. I'm not saying news isn't important, I'm just saying it's the ad department that pays the bills.
Times change. The Morris Sun Tribune newspaper, ever since I left, has tended to run collages of photos of major events with no caption information at all! How easier my life would have been, if I had been spared that responsibility. It's a 180-degree difference. I would use a pencil for the Parade of Lights, because the cold temperature would knock out a pen. One year I thought I had photographed all major or interesting floats, only to find out later that one of the award winners was one I didn't deem worthy.
There is a photo of the late Willie Martin in the Parade of Lights, on display at that sit-down area of Willie's Super Valu. I took that photo! Please pay special attention sometime. Willie radiated with the spirit of that event, and of Christmas itself.
How good was the 2015 Parade of Lights? We didn't take it in. Even on a relatively good night in November, the cold can be a barrier. I hope it was fine.
- Brian Williams - morris mn minnesota - bwilly73@yahoo.com

Monday, November 9, 2015

We're on to state! Tiger volleyball shines

The Tigers are in the spotlight of state volleyball. This year's high-flying edition of the Tigers is the first-ever to represent the school in state volleyball. Ecstasy was high Saturday night at the Southwest State University gymnasium, Marshall. We're tops in Section 3AA!
We came out of the North as the North's top seed. Our Saturday foe was the No. 2 seed out of the South, Martin County West. Not only did we win, we were dominant. The orange and black cause prevailed by sweep. Scores were 25-22, 25-21 and 25-16. It was our 24th season triumph.
Now the focus is on the elite state level. Our next assignment is to play Rocori out of Cold Spring. Match time is 7 p.m. Thursday at Xcel Energy Center, St. Paul. The bumping, setting and spiking promises to be entertaining under those bright lights.
The Tigers asserted themselves right away in the Section 3AA title match. We bounded out to a lead. The Mavericks of Martin County West rebounded to get the score tied at 14-14. Later the scoreboard showed 22-22 numbers, so the match had entered a pivotal point. Karly Fehr, normally a cog with her setting skills, got a key kill, and then MACA parlayed that spurt into two more points. So we took that first game 25-22.
MACA continued having a superior sheen with their balance of weapons in games 2 and 3. On to state! The team celebrated in a big huddle. Teams must be careful doing this type of thing. Remember when the Minnesota Twins' Denny Hocking got injured in this kind of celebration after a playoff win at Oakland?
Coach Kristi Fehr was excited about the quality of her team's passing. A team must function as a well-oiled machine, and coach Fehr's Tigers did just that. I used to work with coach Fehr when she coached for Hancock. That's where she cut her teeth in the craft. I wrote sports for the Hancock Record for 15 years. I miss it.
Coach Fehr, reflecting on the Saturday win for the Willmar newspaper, said "Martin County West ran kind of a slow offense so a lot of their hitters we got to. We played aggressive and composed. We never had the look like we were going to lose."
Martin County West closes out its season with the abundant win harvest of 24.
Brooke Gillespie slammed two serving aces at the Mavericks. Riley Decker had one serving ace. Karly Fehr in her specialty of setting had 34 set assists. A pair of Tigers achieved eleven kills in the hitting department: Jenna Howden and Brooke Gillespie. Three Tigers each pounded five kills at MCW: Fehr, Lindsey Dierks and Ashley Solvie. Carly Maanum had four kills, Haley Erdahl two and Koral Tolifson one.
Solvie executed five ace blocks to lead in that category. Howden had two ace blocks and Gillespie had one. Gillespie dug up the ball 21 times. Dierks and Decker each had 16 digs. Karly Fehr and Tolifson each had 15, and Erdahl added 12 digs to the mix.
Attention will be riveted on this group of student-athletes again on Thursday. What a ride!
 
State cross country
Maddie Carrington of the MACA Tigers was the top runner from our area in the state girls cross country meet. Vying in the Class 'A' race, Maddie placed 30th in this elite field with her time of 19:55.7.
Kurt TeBeest of Montevideo placed 23rd in the boys race, time of 16:48.5.
Cross country leaves us with lots of great memories from 2015.
 
Girls hockey: Park Rapids 4, MBA Storm 1
Hollie Christians scored the only goal for Morris Benson Area in this early-bird ice contest, played at the Morris rink. The Thursday action ended with Park Rapids on top of our Storm 4-1.
Christians' goal came in the third period. Hallie Watzke assisted. It was a power play goal coming at 16:21 of the third.
The first period was scoreless, after which Park Rapids took charge with three goals in the second. Each team had one third period goal. Tayah Otterness scored the game's first goal. Lexi Hinkley-Smith scored the second, and Tara Johanning the third. Park Rapids' third period goal was scored by Otterness.
Abby Hoffman was the Storm's goalie and she picked up 19 saves.
- Brian Williams - morris mn minnesota - bwilly73@yahoo.com

Friday, November 6, 2015

MACA girls to vie for Section 3AA title

The MACA girls have a triumphant air as they approach the section championship volleyball match. The Tigers will take their winning flair to Southwest State University, Marshall, on Saturday (11/7) for the climactic title match. Our foe now: Martin County West.
A win now will propel the Tigers to state. Match time this Saturday is 6 p.m.
The Tigers' win in the Section 3AA semis was over New London-Spicer. Yes it was New London-Spicer, a school that so often advances far in the post-season, often at the expense of MACA. Is that pattern now broken?
The Tigers displayed a balanced hitting attack to dispose of the Wildcats Thursday. Scores were 25-17, 25-23 and 25-20. Yes, a sweep! Coach Kristi Fehr is beaming along with all her talented and determined student-athletes.
Yes the hitting was awesome, but coach Fehr was quick to cite the ingredients that led up to those hits, like passing. Karly Fehr took the lead in setting. She totaled 29 set assists. Coach Fehr saw a very pleasing "flow" in the attacks.
We now own a 23-3 season record. We've lost only one match since October 1.
Koral Tolifson and Cassidy Fehr each sent a serving ace at the Wildcats. Brooke Gillespie pounded down nine kills to lead that balanced attack at the net. Lindsey Dierks had eight kills followed by Ashley Solvie and Jenna Howden each with seven. The Willmar newspaper did not specify which Fehr, Karly or Cassidy, had four kills. Carly Maanum added three kills to the mix.
Howden topped the ace blocks list with four. Solvie had two ace blocks, and Gillespie and Dierks one each. In digs it was Gillespie posting the team best total with 17. Dierks had 13 digs, Riley Decker eleven and Karly Fehr ten.
Carly Cronen had two serving aces for NL-Spicer. Espi Austvold put up 32 set assists for the Wildcats. Kabrie Weber and Lindsay Vagle each had nine kills. Erin Tebben had two ace blocks. Vagle, Brennah Bergh and Cronen each had 12 digs. This match was played in Montevideo.
 
Tigers 3, Litchfield 0
The Monday action had Morris Area Chokio Alberta sweeping past those Dragons of Litchfield. Scores were 25-18, 25-17 and 25-15 as coach Fehr's squad was dominant at the home gym.
Five different Tigers each had a serving ace: Brooke Gillespie, Lindsey Dierks, Karly Fehr, Haley Erdahl and Riley Decker. Fehr put up 35 set assists.
Gillespie was at the fore in hitting with ten kills. Jenna Howden pounded down nine kills. Lindsey Dierks' kill total was eight. Ashley Solvie sent six kills at the Dragons, while Carly Maanum had four and Moira McNally one. Maanum executed two ace blocks.
It was Riley Decker setting the pace in digs with 20. Gillespie had 12 digs, Dierks ten and Fehr six.
 
Whither the weather?
The volleyball post-season coincides with that time of year when winter may come, or it may hold off a little. Winter definitely looms. I'm writing this on a bleak Friday morning, a very overcast morning. The temperature isn't winter-like yet.
I always wait to put the riding lawn mower into the storage shed until the first snowfall comes down. That would make a good Norman Rockwell painting: yours truly pushing the riding lawn mower into the shed as the first snowfall comes down. I have been fortunate to get that mower through many summers without having to get it professionally serviced. The mowers go into hibernation for winter. Then I do a Hail Mary in spring for getting them started. A little gas in the spark plug chamber might help.
Leaves? We get a lot on our property. It's really impossible to get ahead of that situation. I just have to make sure the rain gutters are reasonably cleared. I can see where senior citizens get hurt getting up on ladders. Max McGee, the great Green Bay Packers wide receiver, died as the result of a fall from his roof. Young adults design homes with impediments that they don't realize until they become senior citizens. Like steps leading up to the entry doors.
This is the time of year we have church suppers. My church, First Lutheran, had its big event Wednesday. Mom and I didn't go, partly because I think we're seeing a little too much price inflation with these events. The price was $16 Wednesday. And don't even consider attending a Minnesota Twins game. Faith Lutheran has its big meal upcoming. We're not going this year, because last year we sort of got hurried out. A meal worker said to us: "We'll need these seats soon." To hell with that, and to hell with that person. Pastor Sanderson, please get word out to your people to behave hospitably. Relax.
- Brian Williams - morris mn minnesota - bwilly73@yahoo.com

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

What basis for lionizing coach Jerry Kill?

Jerry Kill: overrated
I'm not sure what our fascination with sports coaches says about us. We can become transfixed like those mobs we sometimes see in the Middle East, holding up placards with pictures of political leaders. On Saturday (10/31) at the stadium in Minneapolis, we saw a flag paying homage. It read "Jerrysota."
"Jerrysota." It isn't even very clever. It's a word you might throw together when you've had "one too many." The news was still fresh that Jerry Kill had resigned. It's rather odd, of course: a Division I head football coach stepping down (quitting on his team) at mid-season. Kill must have had a sudden re-emergence of epilepsy symptoms. He had seemed very stable, for him, in the time leading up to his departure. I was surprised seeing the headline.
The facts, in my mind, never supported such great lionizing of him. He's a coach. He has to deal with all the pressures of holding down such a spot. On Saturday the pressure would have been to face Michigan. It was a pivotal game, certainly impacting the type of bowl game we'd get in, or if we'd make a bowl game. The numbers don't look that great right now.
Kill's sudden departure was followed by the reflexive move of promoting an assistant, who always looks interesting in the short term. We have a fat guy named Claeys in the top spot now. In his honeymoon game Saturday, surrounded by trappings like that "Jerrysota" flag, his stock appeared to drop a few notches. Right now the political atmosphere is to give the benefit of the doubt to the new guy, if he has the blessing of his saint-like predecessor, Kill.
I'll wager that the usual cynical reporters in the Twin Cities would love to sharpen their knives and humble the U after all that has happened. First the athletic director leaves. AD Teague left amidst a cesspool of bad acting and embarrassment. How could he think he could get by with his behavior? Oh, he'll cite alcohol. Maybe we should consider affinity with alcohol as a hiring factor. Oh, but the U delegates to a consultant to deal with that. Blame them, I guess. What? Buck-passing by educational administrators?
So Teague leaves in that cloud of embarrassment for the institution. Then Kill, whose status has always been shaky with his health issues, suddenly announced he's gone, days before the big home Michigan game.
We need to feel sorry for a person with a health handicap. But maybe the job of Division I football coach had always been too big for him. Maybe health fitness is actually a prerequisite for being head coach at that level. Jim Souhan of the Star Tribune committed the gaffe of telling the truth once. His column was ripped by the political correctness crowd. He made an apology direct to Kill, something that I'm not sure came from his heart.
We lost to Michigan because of being short-handed in coaching. This Claeys guy would normally have worked in concert with Kill in clock management. Our normal continuity got disrupted. Claeys of course discussed this debacle game with Kill in the game's aftermath. With smoke still coming from the rubble, they pondered the lapse at the end where errant clock management denied the Gophers the win they thought they'd achieved.
Kill is gone. To what extent should his name even be invoked now? Didn't the band spell out "Jerry" on the field at halftime? Again, you'd think we were talking about some tinpot Middle East leader, mesmerizing the masses.
George Will has complained about what he calls "coach centrism" in college football. We got an excellent exhibit Saturday at our football stadium in Minneapolis. "Jerrysota." An atmosphere of mania prevailed among the huge turnout. (The late Walt Sarlette of Morris would say, "Don't these people have homes?")
So many people have predicted a decline in football's popularity due to the hazards of the game. Those predictions appear now to be a dud. Not that the game isn't hazardous. The more research is done, the more we're aware of the physical and mental peril. I can thank God I never played football. But just think of all the young people who get induced into playing it. Adoring fans are a big inducement for young men who may be lonely and drifting.
All those fans had free discretion to place coach Kill on such an incredibly high pedestal. I'm not sure what the point was. The facts simply to not underscore Jerry Kill being an iconic football coach. And, if the point was to demonstrate how a person can overcome his handicap? Kill did not overcome it. Resigning at mid-season, leaving a void that contributed to a loss in a hugely important game, does not equate with overcoming your handicap. I think Jim Souhan cusses under his breath about having to publicly regret his column. I think deep down he feels it was totally reasonable.
Coach Kill couldn't even be present to help his team win in the end. But of course he's consulted immediately afterward, as if he were some guru on a mountaintop. He's not even Bo Schembechler. He seems a quite mortal coach, a coach who hadn't even proven, yet, that his 2015 team was bowl-worthy.
"Jerrysota?" It's asinine. We're left with the cold hard fact that our football team got beat by Michigan and Jim Harbaugh. The Wolverines beat us in our backyard. We should be smarting at that defeat and putting increased pressure on that new fat guy coach. Put away the flag.
- Brian Williams - morris mn minnesota - bwilly73@yahoo.com

Monday, November 2, 2015

The Jacob Wetterling case: where to now?

John Walsh, TV sleuth
We're hearing that something revelatory has happened in the Jacob Wetterling case. The case began so many years ago.
We thought not long ago that a John Walsh TV special had it all figured out. Actually the Walsh show gave attention to a New London blogger who seemed to have it figured out. The blogger came off as a hero. But then, there was no law enforcement follow-up to confirm the apparent revelations. The blogger was left sort of drifting, as bloggers often are. I joked with someone: "She looks like a typical aimless blogger with too much time on her hands."
The Walsh TV special was overseen by the slick entertainment industry. In other words, it was orchestrated to be sensational. I got fooled, thinking immediately that this painful, seemingly never-ending case was over.
I remember being at the first-ever Minnesota Timberwolves regular season home opener in 1989. I was in a motorcoach party that I think was overseen by the Anderson boys of Elmer's. The Wetterling tragedy was very fresh. The family was there at the Metrodome which was the Timberwolves' home their first year. The Wetterlings came to the center of the court to a thunderous ovation. I thought it was a little curious because I couldn't see what this was supposed to accomplish.
It's mystifying to me how a kid like Jacob could just vanish with no viable leads for resolution of the case to come about, not for years and years. I have read that even the mafia has trouble getting rid of a body. Would this new suspect have the sophistication to cover his tracks so well? (Technically he's a "person of interest.")
The speculation has gone in all directions. Someone wondered if it was a person in law enforcement who abducted Jacob. In other words, someone with the sophistication to possibly pull it off. Speculation, speculation. Why would this new suspect choose to "crouch in the bushes" as it were, waiting to assault, when I assume there was no guarantee those kids (of a perfect age for him) would come walking along within the next several hours? Was he willing to position himself there indefinitely? Or was it someone with specific knowledge that certain kids were going to meander along that road within a certain time frame?
 
Errant finger-pointing
Then we have the sad case of that man who happened to live by the abduction scene, whose life I'm sure has been changed by the suspicions. You may have read about him: that music instructor who lives with his parents. Is this the reason he was made a "person of interest," the fact he lived an atypical lifestyle, with his parents?
The Wetterling case has always been a good example of why the world needs good defense attorneys. Minus absolutely convincing evidence, there will be victims of undue suspicion. This can be very sad and damaging. People who were in the vicinity at the time have had to explain themselves, sometimes more than once. I believe there was a sketch artist known to be in the area. Better explain yourself, guy.
 
Grist for authors
I know of two people who claim to be working on books on the Wetterling case. One emailed me after my previous post on the subject. This was shortly after the Walsh TV special, and it was clear I was very impressed by that special. I guess I was a sucker for the entertainment industry's machinations. I suggested we could assume the case had been "cracked."
The author who emailed me, named Rob Ebben, wondered how I could form such a conclusion on the basis of that show. There has been a vacuum in the case since then. Then we get the news the other day: new "break" or "link" in Wetterling case. How much of a "break" is it, really? We learn of this guy who everyone would call a "creep." I won't argue with that designation.
Do we really know he's the guilty party? Why would he travel so far to that out-of-the-way location to do his horrible misdeed? Even if he did, how could he have felt confident that his absolutely perfect "prey" would come along that road within a reasonable time frame?
Absent concrete evidence, I think all we know now, that we didn't know before, is that this "creep" was living in a seedy Paynesville apartment in 1989. I'm not even prepared to make a moral judgment about him because I think God, for reasons only known to him, created people like this, like pedophile priests, who have compulsions the rest of us can't understand. Wasn't Kevin Bacon in a movie about a pedophile who came across as sympathetic because he was a victim of his compulsion?
Such people must be segregated from the rest of society, of course. They do things that normal people would never consider doing. As for why they're on this Earth in the first place, you'll have to ask God.
This new suspect needs a good attorney like everyone accused of a crime. If he killed someone, he'll have to be hanged from the highest rafter. But haven't the media already suggested he's guilty?
A word like "break" (in the case) suggests as much. It's pejorative because it really seems to suggest "guilty." That's not how our system is supposed to work. A surprising percentage of our human population have issues with sexual inclinations that can make them dangerous or unacceptable within normal society.
 
Understanding dangerous perversions
My take? I think this phenomenon might reflect how the human race is actually a hybrid species from space aliens and Earth primates. I guess that means I'm an atheist or non-believer. Perhaps so.
I emailed Rob Ebben to suggest that he emphasize the following angle in his book: a kid just vanishes and then anyone could be a suspect. Just think of all the collateral damage - innocent people having to be put on the defensive, like that person who stopped by the abduction scene shortly after it happened, because he'd heard about it on his police scanner. Absent any tangible leads, anyone can have the finger pointed at him.
No. 1 on the collateral damage list is that music teacher, victim of the coincidence that he lived by where it happened. He is in position now, I feel, to sue for a windfall. If the case ever reaches finality - I'm not sure it will - his community ought to schedule a special day in his honor, trumpeting to the world that he was just a normal guy victimized by law enforcement.
All the headlines of last week pushed us to think we're finally at resolution, or close to it, or reasonably close to it, or whatever. Sigh. We may stay in the wilderness for a very long time. It's just a lot of flailing around, like when the Wetterling family got that ovation at the Metrodome.
Don't hold your breath. If this new suspect is guilty, maybe he could point out where the remains are, and authorities could then confirm the identity of the remains. Then we'll know. Can law enforcement negotiate some sort of deal with him now? He's in trouble for misdeeds having nothing to do with Wetterling. Could the legal minds offer him incarceration in a more humane setting than would otherwise be the case? Is that in the cards? Would it work? But what if he is innocent?
I'll say this: Central Minnesota seems a more dangerous place to live, than out here in West Central Minnesota. I recall no whispers about sexual predators on the loose among us, when I was a kid at East Elementary. Not like Paynesville, that's for sure. Did law enforcement in Paynesville ever consider sending out a "decoy" to try to coax out the perp?
BTW the other author I'm aware of, besides Ebben, working on a Wetterling book is Scott Thoma. Scott's the former West Central Tribune sports editor who I believe left that paper under less than amicable circumstances. Forum Communications has a way of getting certain people to just mosey on down the road. Ethical? No.
- Brian Williams - morris mn minnesota - bwilly73@yahoo.com