Thole: Don’t believe the hype, the kids are alright

The Stillwater girls’ lacrosse team raised money as part of their “Coaches vs. Cancer” game against White Bear Lake earlier this month. Among those assisting with the event were, from left, Katie Lottsfeldt, Emily Wiegand, Kaitlyn Doyle and Barbara Pooley. (Gazette staff photo by Stuart Groskreutz)

The Stillwater girls’ lacrosse team raised money as part of their “Coaches vs. Cancer” game against White Bear Lake earlier this month. Among those assisting with the event were, from left, Katie Lottsfeldt, Emily Wiegand, Kaitlyn Doyle and Barbara Pooley. (Gazette staff photo by Stuart Groskreutz)

Often times in every decade we hear people complaining about the decline in the behavior of teenagers. This has been stated every year since Moby Dick was a minnow, but like most things, it might be overstated.

In the 29 years that I spent teaching and coaching at dear old SAHS, I would have to say that teenagers are not always as good as some people say and certainly not as bad. As we reach adulthood, we all make mistakes because that’s the way the planet operates.

Looking back, I see a lot more positives than negatives — including such things as the huge student turnout at the annual blood drive, the packing and placing of sandbags on the banks of the St. Croix when flooding is imminent. Let’s not forget the food drives and all the charities that the student clubs, fine arts and athletic teams have supported through the years.

You had to be touched by the students’ love for their classmate Zach Sobiech, who last week lost his battle to cancer at the tender age of 18. Zach was a brave young man who was respected for his musical talent and courage.

I can remember lining up our football team to man their bicycles to ride for cystic fibrosis between practices a couple of times and more recent grid teams have a day set aside each year for physically challenged students to enjoy participating in an adaptive flag football game.

While I think more about this subject, there isn’t an athletic team or student body group that hasn’t gone out of their way to give a helping hand to others in need of a little assistance.

A recent case in point is Brittany Pooley, a sophomore goalie who backs up senior Marie Bonine for the SEC champion Ponies lacrosse team (11-2).

Pooley organized a local group that participated in the “Coaches vs. Cancer” program to raise money for the American Cancer Society. She had some Ponies-themed t-shirts and bracelets made to sell. Pooley has participated in the Relay for Life River of Hope Classic for six years.

The girls’ lacrosse team dedicated its game against White Bear Lake on May 6 to Lorene Bonine — Marie’s mom, who lost her battle to cancer earlier this year.

Another example was the boys’ JV lacrosse team’s dedication of a game to Dave Schwartz, who is very ill with cancer — yet another sterling example of leadership and selfless concern for others.

I could go on for a very long time about the many things that the students at SAHS do behind the scenes, like mowing laws for the elderly, cleaning roadsides and donating to the food shelves, etc.

After I retired in the fall of 1999, I have been a speaker at several venues in five states and I’ve said many times that the most frequent question I’m asked is to describe the difference between athletes then and now. I always respond by stating that when I started coaching in 1965, the players were 16 to 18 years old — and when I left in 1999 they were still 16 to 18 years old. They didn’t change much, but I did, because I was 26 when I started and 60 when I departed.

There is nothing wrong with kids today.

 

Today’s Sports Trivia

What year did the first Indy 500 take place?

 

In the huddle

The physical aspect of sports must be thoroughly understood and enjoyed by the player. Sports require courage and must be played with enthusiasm and intensity. The player of any sport must be convinced of the value in second effort…. Former Ponies and Gophers champion distance runner Ben Blankenship is competing for the Oregon Track Club. Ex-Ponies sprint star Frank Falzone is on the team at Minnesota while Brian Brochman (South Dakota State), Tom Linner (UW-La Crosse), Davis Ellingson (Augustana), Jake Lammi, Duncan Secor and Isaac Secor (all at St. John’s), Ethan

Stillwater graduate Drew Lynch helped lead the St. John’s University men’s golf team to a sixth-place finish at NCAA Division III nationals.

Stillwater graduate Drew Lynch helped lead the St. John’s University men’s golf team to a sixth-place finish at NCAA Division III nationals.

Anderson (Calvin), Nate Hanson (Gustavus) and Michael Harley (Augsburg) are also cavorting on college ovals…. Former Ponies boys’ golfers on the college scene include junior Hudson Carpenter at South Dakota State and sophomore Drew Lynch at NCAA Division III power St. John’s. Lynch recently placed 36th individually to help lead the Johnnies to a sixth-place finish at the national championships. Ponies coach John Scanlon played his college golf at Stanford University…. Your greatest reward is to be bound in team victory…. Checking out the former Ponies softball players competing at the college level we find sophomore Madie Eckstrom continuing to shine at Minnesota and Kelsey McQuillan is playing at St. Ben’s. Allison Eder-Zdechlik, a former Ponies hockey and softball standout, is doing both as a freshman at Gustavus and freshman Dani Wigen is also playing both sports at St. Thomas…. There are very few things that lead to overall success in athletics more than the time you spend on the practice field, pool, ice, track or floor. All teams have the same amount of time — 60 seconds to a minute, 60 minutes to an hour, 24 hours to a day, etc. The important thing is how you utilize this time. The time you spend preparing for practice is as important as the time you spend on the field, etc. Learning can only take place when the players desire it to take place. You might write your name thousands of times a year, but at the end the signature will be just as difficult to read unless a real effort is made to improve…. Answer to Today’s Sports Trivia: The first Indy 500 was held in 1906…. Former Ponies from the Class of 1983 are having their 30-year class reunion on Saturday, Aug. 17.

Sydney Evensen has verbally committed to attend school and play lacrosse at the University of Colorado.

Sydney Evensen has verbally committed to attend school and play lacrosse at the University of Colorado.

The reunion will be at The Grand Banquet Hall from 6 p.m.-midnight. There will also be a golf outing at Oak Glen Golf Course on Friday, Aug. 16, with registration from 3-5 p.m. and golf from 5-7 p.m. More info can be found at www.stillwaterponies83.com or on Facebook under Stillwater 1983 Class Reunion. As I recall, that ’93 bunch was special in the athletic arenas and I’ll report on that in a future column…. Junior Sydney Evensen, a defensive player on the Ponies girls’ lacrosse team, has verbally committed to play at the University of Colorado in Boulder, which will make its NCAA Division I debut next spring. She will enroll at UC in the fall of 2014. Evensen started playing lacrosse in the fourth grade and has been playing for the Ponies since ninth grade. She has also played on several quality traveling teams. Let’s not forget that she is also a two-time all-conference alpine skier…. Sorry to see the passing of classy lady Glenice McGarry on Friday at the age of 79…. Together we build character, courage and loyalty…. finis

 

Today’s rumination #620

Imitate the clock — it passes time by keeping its hands busy.

• • • •

George Thole retired as head football coach at Stillwater after the 1999 season. He ranks among Minnesota’s top coaches in history with a 285-69-2 record (.805 winning percentage), including four state titles and two state runner-up finishes among 22 championship seasons. He co-authored (with Jerry Foley) “Coaching the Veer Offense,” second edition. His column appears Thursdays in the Gazette. To contact the hall of fame coach e-mail: georgethole@gmail.com

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