Thole: ‘Golden Bear’ provides major treat for ex-Pony


Stillwater graduate Adam Larson, right, and his grandfather Wayland Madson, who are life-long golf enthusiasts, attended this year’s Masters golf tournament with assistance from 18-time major champion Jack Nicklaus. (Contributed photos)
Stillwater graduate Adam Larson, right, and his grandfather Wayland Madson, who are life-long golf enthusiasts, attended this year’s Masters golf tournament with assistance from 18-time major champion Jack Nicklaus. (Contributed photos)

Everybody has dreams about things they would like to accomplish or a bucket list, if you will.

This was the case for former Ponies wide receiver Adam Larson of the 1995 SAHS state championship (14-0) football team.

Larson has spent the majority of his life around golf courses watching and playing the game that he loves. During that time, he has traveled near and far with his grandfather Wayland Madson watching various tournaments around the country.

These guys have caught the Senior Tour, PGA regular and major tournaments and LPGA events as well.

There was one tournament that has been on the ultimate dream list for both guys — you guessed it, The Masters in Augusta, Ga. Adam tried without success for two lustrums to score tickets, but was denied by the on-line lottery system for ducats.

With his grandfather’s cancer coming on, Adam didn’t know how many more chances the pair would have to get to the promised land of Augusta.

Adam decided to take a buzzer shot and wrote a personal letter to Jack Nicklaus explaining to the legend that his grandfather lived a life similar to Mr. Nicklaus — minus the 18 major championships.

Now, it took some crust for Adam to write Nicklaus, but what do you expect from a kid who played for us? Larson stated “both Madson and Nicklaus value family, faith, and have a true passion for the game of golf”.

He heard from the legend and his assistant Rose Garrido within two days, stating that they were willing to give two days of their corporate tickets to fulfill their life-long dream.

Adam and Wayland attended two practice rounds on Monday and Tuesday and created memories that will last a lifetime for the grandfather and his loyal grandson.



The dictionary defines pedagogue as “a teacher or a schoolmaster,” and pedagogy, as “the art of teaching, or the profession of teaching.” Note the phrase “art of teaching.”

Sound teaching techniques demand definite skills. The most successful instructors are gifted people who are able to reach out and project their ideas and concepts to a group of learners with vastly different learning abilities.

Though armed with a wealth of knowledge, combined with superior vocabulary skills in their respective fields, the effective teacher/coach does not attempt to dazzle or impress his charges with his overall knowledge of subject matter. Rather, he is flexible and resourceful enough to break down the material so that it is understandable to the majority of the learners. Although essential to success, it is not an easy skill to master.

The above sage advice came from Jerry Foley and was included in our popular book “Coaching the Veer Offense”.


Today’s Sports Trivia

How many different sports teams have won MSHSL state titles? Name them for extra credit.


In the huddle

In today’s hectic and fast-paced society, scheduling and distances to athletic facilities often dictate the necessity of parents being more than casually involved in their children’s activities. They drive them to and from arenas, ballparks and soccer fields, and often remain to observe practices or games. Once non-existent, costs and athletic fees have soared during the past several years. Over an extended period, this equates to parents having a substantial investment in both time and money in youth programs. I have always been an opponent of fees because I think they are unjust. Sports and fine arts programs are contributors to academic success and they should be properly funded without putting the bite on parents. We didn’t have participation fees prior to 1981. I am glad the subject didn’t come up when I was on the ISD 834 Board of Education. Fees are a red flag for me…. Congrats to former Ponies and Gophers golf ace Paige Bromen, who teamed with Kristen Wagner to win the Women’s State Amateur Four Ball Championship at Midland Hills Country Club in June. The pair shot a 137 total to edge Anna Loerr and Jaclyn Shepard by five strokes…. A 15-foot pole vaulter in the person of Connor O’Neill was named the Most Valuable Athlete by the state champion Ponies track and field team recently. O’Neill, who led the Ponies in points scored, also led an 11-man all-conference contingent that included all-staters Sean Bjork, Eric Colvin, Eli Krahn, Wayde Hall, Bailey Hesse-Withbroe, Tayler Aarness and Nate Bird, plus Makao Day, Isaac Hale and Sean Tompkins. Luke Richie was also all-state. The Ponies enjoyed a superb season, culminated with a 65-point explosion to take top honors from conference rival Forest Lake (59.5) and Wayzata (57) in the top three places…. Austin Holmberg, Andy Peterson and all-state Connor Johnston earned all-conference honors for the 14-10 Ponies baseball team, with Holmberg a repeat selection. Johnston set the school mark with a .500 batting average and also finished with a  .754 slugging percentage while Holmberg set a new school record with 93 career hits after pounding out 31 this past spring for a .393 batting average. Five other Ponies sluggers hit better than .300, including Ethan Stanley (.385), John Craig (.381), Grant Moden (.340), Trevor Dudar (.323) and Peterson (.311). All-Section recognition was awarded to Peterson, Tony Lennox, Moden and TJ Galenti…. Oops, I misspelled all-conference synchronized swimmer Katie Koenning in last week’s column. Katie and Skyler Olson will serve as captains for next year’s squad…. Answer to Today’s Sports Trivia: Fifteen different Ponies sports teams have won MSHSL state championships. Girls sports winners include golf, swimming and diving, hockey, alpine skiing, Nordic skiing and softball while the boys have taken the gold in football, basketball, baseball, track and field, cross country, alpine skiing, tennis, Nordic skiing and adapted soccer (co-ed). If you didn’t get them all then you didn’t try hard enough…. As you read this, Karen and I are in Norway. Remember that team effort goes in vain when individual effort is directed in the wrong direction. Hold on to that thought until we get back…. Stillwater’s Bob Bielenberg recently aced the 188-yard, par-three 17th hole with a 3-wood at Loggers Trail…. Ponies activities director Ricky Michel and his wife, Denise, attended Tuesday’s All-Star Game in New York after receiving tickets from Stillwater grad and current Twins closer Glen Perkins. The left-hander did not pitch for the winning American League team, but I’m sure this won’t be his only opportunity to pitch in the midsummer classic…. Sorry to see the tragic passing of Jeff Scheidt on May 18 at age 50. He is the husband of former standout Ponies alpine skier Tracy Parcheta ’90 and the son-in-law of Stillwater’s Jack and SAHS alpine skiing coach Mary Parcheta…. The eyes see only what the mind can comprehend…. finis


Today’s rumination #627

Everything is funny as long as it happens to somebody else.

• • • •

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: [email protected]