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Sunday, September 18, 2016

On the Left

Don & Dean Bowyer by Mike Fier
While around ten percent of the general population is lefthanded, studies have shown that the number of southpaws amongst professional baseball players vaults to nearly 25%.

How so, you ask.  Well, not to get too deep into it, but when it comes to the game of baseball, lefties rule. At least some of the time.

Lefty batters have a better and longer look at pitches from righthanders and there are more righthanded pitchers than leftanded. Lefthanded batters follow through to the right and face a shorter run to first base. 

Conversely, a lefthanded pitcher, like former Minnesota State hurler Mike Fier, has a leg up on batters due to the fact that there are fewer leftys. There are more righthanded batters then lefthanded batters.  And if you are a lefthanded batter, guess what, the fact that there are fewer lefthanded pitchers means that this applies to you, to. Everyone has fewer reps against lefthanded pitchers. And in order to become a good hitter, repetition is key. 

If you are a lefty who throws hard with movement, then you, as they say in baseball parlance, have a chance.  Mike Fier was one such lefty.

Following a three-year college career in the late 1980's with the Mavericks that saw him go 14-6 with 139 strikeouts in 139 innings and a 4.98 earned average, he was selected by the Montreal Expos in the tenth round of the 1989 Major League Draft.  The Winona, Minn., native spent two years playing minor league ball for the Expos before hanging it up and now owns a small tile business in the Twin Cities, doing most of the work himself specializing in residential tile remodeling projects.

During his time in Mankato, Fier played on three North Central Conference championship teams that were in the midst of a run that saw the program make six consecutive trips to the NCAA postseason. The players from that era are particularly close-knit, getting together quite often to socialize with their time under former Maverick head coach Dean Bowyer inevitably leading to the re-telling of stories and endless laughter.

Members of  Maverick teams from that era (and others) are getting together this weekend to golf and during this time will present the artwork pictured above of Dean Bowyer and his brother Don, who served a time as a volunteer assistant coach with the program, to Dean Bowyer.  Mike Fier is the person who crafted the artwork.  We asked Mike a few questions regarding his hobby.

1.  Can you describe the process for this artwork?  Pencil drawing?  How long did it take?

Yes, all pencil drawings with charcoal mixed in at times.  Most of my drawings take anywhere from about 10-25 hours.  This one, being there were two very handsome subjects, took me about 24 hours :)  I always use a reference photo beside me to work from as most artists do.

2. You’re extremely busy running your tile business. Is your art something you do on the side?

My drawings that I've done have mainly been for a hobby and I've started doing a few for commissions and sold a few prints as well in local businesses.

3. Is your artwork something you came by naturally and something you have done your entire life?  Have you had any formal training?  

All of my art has been self taught, no formal training or classes. My mom is pretty artistic so anything I do has probably come from her. 

4. How has your baseball career influenced your art, if any?

Not sure about that, other than baseball being such a highly visual and intensely focused sport that it probably doesn’t hurt being the whole drawing process is fairly visual as well.

5. Do  you have a website we can direct people to?

I have not created a website for my art yet, however I do display all of my art under my Facebook account in a drawings folder open for anyone to view (under Mike Fier).

5. How’s the arm?  Can you still throw?

Yeah, I’ve actually been really fortunate to still be playing baseball! The arm feels great and continue pitch and play summer baseball for two teams.

It's great to be a Maverick.


Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Matadi Set to Compete at Rio Olympics

To say that sprinter Emmanuel Matadi is well traveled would be an understatement.

Minnesota State’s national champion has had an interesting journey that will culminate in August, as he becomes the first Maverick to compete in the Summer Olympics. Matadi, native of Liberia (a country located on the west African coast), will compete in the 100-meter dash event after setting a Liberian record with a time of 10.14.

Nina Tikkinen, Emila Andersson and David Backes, are former Maverick student-athletes who have competed in the Winter Olympics. Tikkinen was a member of the Finnish women’s hockey team in the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver, while Andersson played with the Swedish women’s hockey team at the 2010 in Vancouver and 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi. Backes, the former captain of the St. Louis Blues, represented Team USA in the 2010 and 2014 Winter Olympics, as well.

Matadi, who moved to Minnesota in sixth grade, has seen success at every level, beginning with a Minnesota state high school championship in the 100m in 2009 at St. Paul Johnson High School. From there, he would go on to claim junior college All-American honors as he competed in the 4x100m and 4x400 relay events in 2011 at the national championship as a member of the track & field teams at Butler (Kan.) Community College.

After a stint at Louisville, Emmanuel made his way to Minnesota State for the 2014-15 season where he rewrote the Maverick record books. In one season Matadi set a pair of indoor records (60m/6.66 & 200m/21.10), to go along with outdoor records in the 100m (10.19) and the 4x100 relay (40.15). His season culminated in a pair of NCAA Division II outdoor track & field championships in the 100m and 200m events.

He’s now preparing to head to Rio de Janeiro where he’ll compete against the best sprinters in the world.

Ten Questions with Emmanuel Matadi

How did you arrive at Minnesota State?
I was a transfer from Louisville. One of my best friends - Jared Gillespie - convinced me to take a tour of the school and I really was impressed with Coach Dilling and Coach Parno.

What was it like competing with the Mavericks during the 2014-15 season?
If was fun. It was probably the most fun I’ve had in a season. Everyone was so focused and I think that was what helped me win nationals. The team and the coaches were so supportive.

What are some of your highlights as a Maverick?
Breaking the school record and winning nationals in the 100 and 200. Winning conference championships.

How long have you competed in track and field events?
Since my junior year in high school so probably around 16. I was always a sprinter.

Tell us about your connection to Liberia?
I was born in Liberia and my whole family is from Liberia. I came over to the US when I was seven. I lived in California for a few years before moving to Minnesota when I was in sixth grade.

What was it like to qualify for the Olympics after setting a new record for Liberia in the 100m?
It was a great feeling. I have been training for so long to get that moment so when it happened it was great.

Has reaching the Olympics always been one of your goals since day one or did this come about as you continued to improve?
When I realized how much I was progressing that‘s when it became more of a goal. When I got to college it became a real goal

What are you most looking forward to in Rio?
The high-level talent and the competing with the world’s best athletes.

Who has been your biggest inspiration and why?
My parents (Jacob and Florence). They showed me how to work hard. When they came over to the states they had nothing but they worked hard and I learned from their work ethic.

What are your plans after the Olympics conclude?
After the season is over I’ll take a break but I’ll get back to training for the world championships next season and then hopefully get back to the Olympics in 2020.



Friday, May 6, 2016

Coach Speak

Former Minnesota State assistant coach Jessica Keller led
Columbia College (Mo.) to a 27-6 record in 2015-16
A couple of months ago we tweeted a graphic regarding former members of the Minnesota State football staff who were now members of coaching staffs with programs in the Missouri Valley Conference.

A couple of them (Spence Nowinski at Illinois State and Joe Klanderman at North Dakota State) are also former Maverick student-athletes, but the rest of the names on the list - Luke Groth (South Dakota), Carl Pelini (Youngstown State) and Luke Schluesner, Jason Eck and Jake Dickert (South Dakota State) - came from the staffs of former coach Jeff Jamrog and current coach Todd Hoffner.

Other former Minnesota State student-athletes who now coach at the collegiate level include Tim Huber (baseball head coach at Augustana), who played baseball here when Dean Bowyer skippered the Mavericks, Matt Parrington (head coach at Macalester) also played for Bowyer, while longtime Gustavus women's hockey hockey coach Mike Carroll played baseball and hockey for Bowyer and Don Brose, respectively.  All-America outside hitter Jen Jacobs is a volleyball assistant coach at Augsburg, while former Maverick defensive back Jordan Malone is a current member of Todd Hoffner's staff at MSU and All-America goaltender Shari (Vogt) Dickerman has been a member of the Maverick women's hockey coaching staff since 2009.  Darren Blue, who played hockey and golfed for the Mavericks, has been an assistant coach with Minnesota State since 2000.  Speaking of golf, head coach of the Minnesota State men's team?  Bryant Black?  Yes, he played for the Mavericks.

Minnesota Duluth football head coach Curt Weise played quarterback for a few years at MSU before transferring to Wisconsin-Stevens Point and former Maverick defensive lineman Ben Halder is entering his eighth season as an assistant coach at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire.  Former Minnesota State All-American Jodi Wendt is the head women's golf coach at Winthrop (S.C.). Anna Voltmer (played for Ann Walker and Pam Gohl at Minnesota State) is an assistant coach with the women's basketball program at Hamline. 

Augustana football coach Jerry Olszewski was a member of Dan Runkle's football staff, as was St. Cloud State offensive coordinator Chris Mussman.  Jamie Skadeland, who was a graduate assistant with the Maverick women's volleyball program under former coach Dennis Amundson, has spent the last eight seasons as the head coach at Colorado School of Mines.  Aaron Roussell, who was a graduate assistant for two seasons on Ann Walker's women's basketball staff, is the women's basketball head coach at Bucknell.  The head coach of the track & field programs at St. Scholastica, Kirk Naumann, is a former graduate assistant with us, as was Steve Jones, who is an assistant track & field coach at Grand Valley State.

Megan Vogal, an assistant coach at UW-Green Bay, was a volunteer assistant coach with the women's basketball program when Gohl was the head coach. Suzy Venet (a former Walker assistant) has spent the last 11 seasons as the head coach at Mount Union (Ohio). Jess (Abrahams) Hartmann was on Lori Fish's women's basketball staff at MSU from 2004-08 and rejoined Fish at St. Cloud State where's she's been an assistant coach since 2013. And speaking of St. Cloud State, head coach of the Huskies women's soccer program is one of our former assistants, Gretta Arvesen.

Taking it step further in developing a list of former coaches and student-athletes who were members of our teams and staffs under our current head coaches, the list gets even longer.
Wrestling (head coach Jim Makovsky)
Ryan Ludwig - Head Coach - Northern Illinois University Wrestling
Sam Barber - Head Coach - Air Force Academy Wrestling
Adam Aho - Head Coach - University of Mary Wrestling
Brady Wilson - Assistant Coach - St. Cloud State Wrestling
Brandon Eichmann - Assistant Coach - University of Mary Wrestling

Baseball (head coach Matt Magers)
Brandon Potter - Head Coach - St. John Fischer College Baseball
Andy Judkins - Assistant Coach - Butler University Baseball
Shaun Wegner - Assistant Coach - UW-Whitewater Baseball
Adam Christ - Assistant Coach - University of Illinois Baseball

Women’s Golf (head coach Nick Campa)

Matt Ward - Head Coach - Mesa State Men's Golf

Football (head coach Todd Hoffner)
Jamie Bisch - Assistant Coach - Midland University (Neb.)
Mike Cunningham - Assistant Coach - Winona State
Chris Brunkhorst - Strength & Conditioning Coach - Minot State
Brian Bell - Assistant Coach - New Mexico State

Women’s Basketball (head coach Emilee Thiesse)
Jessica Keller – Head Coach - Columbia College (Mo.) Women's Basketball
Brent Pollari – Head Coach St. Mary's (Minn.) - Women's Basketball

Soccer (head coach Brian Bahl)
Nicole Dooher - Graduate Assistant Coach - Concordia St Paul Women's Soccer
Caitlin Graboski - Assistant Coach - St Thomas (Minn.) Women's Soccer

Softball (head coach Lori Meyer)
Kelsey Thompson - Head Coach - University of Sioux Falls Softball
Mollie Bjelland - Assistant Coach - Missouri Western Softball
Chelsea Erickson - Assistant Coach - Missouri Southern Softball
Kim Zarling - Head Coach - Beloit College (Wis.)

Men's Basketball (head coach Matt Margenthaler)
Gameli Ahelegbe - Assistant Coach - University of South Dakota men's basketball
Austin Hansen - Assistant Coach - University of South Dakota men's basketball
Nigel Jenkins - Head Coach - Waldorf University
Connor O'Brien - Assistant Coach - St. John's (Minn.)

"I feel like such a huge part of who I am as a coach came out of my experience at Minnesota State," said Jessica Keller, who led Columbia (Mo.) to a 27-6 record in 2015-16. 

"I was fortunate to join a women’s basketball program that had recently won a national title, with the memories and expectations still fresh in everyone’s mind and Pam Gohl and Amy Sander there to teach me how they got to the top. I got to know the program’s alumnae, who proudly shared their experiences, the sacrifices and expectations that brought them so much more than big banners. When Coach Thiesse was hired to lead the program, the methods changed but the expectation of achieving success on the court, in the classroom, and through all facets of the student-athlete experience remained. I learned not just new skills to teach the game from her, but how to successfully instill a new philosophy throughout an entire program, which would help prepare me to later lead my own team."

"Within the Maverick Athletic Department, I learned how to be part of a successful team that is greater than just the one I coached. I gained new perspective and insight on the many ways lead and motivate a group of individuals toward a common goal of becoming a champion. I have been able to model my coaching style from the various winning ways to which I was introduced at Minnesota State. I left with a sense of great pride that is shared by those in the Maverick Family, which motivates me to provide such a similarly rewarding environment for others wherever I work."

It's great to be a Maverick.


Thursday, April 28, 2016

Mavericks' Purple Raen

Bobby Rae was an All-NCC third
baseman for the Mavericks in 1984
As an infielder for Minnesota State back in the mid-1980's, Bloomington native Bobby Rae hit .353 over the course of 70 games in two seasons of varsity baseball under the direction of head coach Dean Bowyer.

The Mavericks went 54-34-1 in 1984 and 1985 in capturing a pair of North Central Conference North Division titles and appeared in the 1985 NCAA DII Midwest Regional where they posted a second-place finish in Romeoville, Ill.  Rae garnered All-NCC First Team honors as a third baseman in 1984.

A 1986 graduate of the school, Rae has remained in Minnesota where he now serves as a vice president for RBC Wealth Management in Edina.

As it is with most Land of 10,000 Lakes natives, Rae has an affinity to the Twins and has been known to play a little boot hockey.  But with the recent passing of legendary Prince Rogers Nelson, his connection to one of the state's iconic musicians gives him some unique perspective on what it's like to be Minnesotan.

Not unlike Rae, Prince was a native of the state and his musical drama movie Purple Rain and Oscar-award winning soundtrack hit the theatres in 1984.  The movie was filmed in Minneapolis and Rae and one of his friends responded to a newspaper ad looking for extras. After showing up with a head shot and going through a short "audition" in a theatre across the street from First Avenue (the venue in which Prince rehearsed and performed in the movie) where they danced with a couple of girls in order to gauge their rhythm, they were asked to come back to First Avenue for actual filming of the concert scenes.

“It was cool," said Rae, who was already a Prince fan prior to the release of the movie and subsequent Purple Rain album.  "They had everyone show up at the theatre where they divided us into two groups. The first group would go shoot scenes in the morning. The next group would go over and shoot in the afternoon."

Rae, who said that he was paid $125 for his "role" in the audience, heard the unpublished songs from Purple Rain for the first time during his short stint in the movie business. “They had music playing, which was Prince’s music from the movie, which wasn’t playing commercially yet. We thought, "this is the greatest music we’ve ever heard".  But just to sit and watch how they filmed was really interesting. Obviously I’d never seen a movie be made before. In the four songs that my friend and I were in, they gave us the actions of I Will Die For You and the part you can actually see me in the Purple Rain scene, they had to show us how to raise our hands above our heads and that kind of stuff.”

Rae has remained a Prince fan since his brief brush with greatness and appreciated the fact the artist remained in the area where he grew up before passing.

"He liked his roots, I think. I don’t know if he liked it better because this is where he was from, but this is what he knew, versus Hollywood. He was just cool and while it's been somewhat surprising to see the outpouring and tributes globally, I guess that's the indication of how iconic he is.  You have Elvis. And Michael Jackson. Then there's Prince right there with them. I think it’s tremendous that a lot of people are reminiscing and remembering the music and his talent.”

                                               - contributed by Courtney Johnson, Athletic Communications Intern



Monday, April 4, 2016

Doran is Minnesota State's Net Gain

Draper, Utah., native Killian Doran is in her second season
with the Minnesota State women's tennis team
Going to school far away from home can be overwhelming. However, for Minnesota State tennis sophomore Killian Doran being a Maverick feels just like home.

Doran, a Draper, Utah native, is playing her second season for the MSU women’s tennis team and she could not be happier with her decision to make the move from the Beehive State to the Land of 10,000 Lakes.

“This campus is very similar to Utah State where my older sister went to school and I really liked that atmosphere,” said Doran on how she ended up in Mankato.  “So when I visited MSU it felt a lot like home and I was really comfortable.”

Tennis has been Doran’s love for a long time, but she has a lot of experience in many different sports.

“I did every sport under the sun,” the Corner Canyon High School graduate said. “When I was 10, my cousin started to play tennis and I followed in her foot steps and really fell in love with it and I’ve stuck with it ever since.”

A three-year tennis letter winner in high school, Doran helped Alta High School to a 24-4 record as a freshman and made it to the second round in the state tournament. The following year, Doran helped lead the team to a state title. She transferred to Corner Canyon as a senior and became their first regional champion and was ranked in the top 500 in the country.

As a freshman in 2014-15, she posted a 7-10 overall record playing #1 singles for the Mavericks, but was 7-4 in conference singles matches. Paired with Sarah McCann, the duo went 7-11 in doubles matches.  Playing mostly at #3 as a sophomore in 2016, she sports a 10-5 record, but definitely prefers one style of match to the other.

“I would have to say I like playing doubles more,” Doran said. “Because you have that partner, somebody there to keep you calm and it’s a little more fun because you get to do more at the net.”

Christie Williams, now into her fifth year as head coach of the Minnesota State women’s tennis program, has been very impressed with Doran’s improved play and leadership skills over the past two years.

“Killian has come a long way in terms of increasing her mental toughness and ability to win in close match situations, she is definitely a team leader and does a remarkable job of leading by example,” said Williams. “She always gives full effort in practice, is receptive to coaching and is organized. Her positive attitude does not go unnoticed. I have also received positive remarks from opposing coaches regarding her sportsmanship and competitive drive.”

Doran is having a fantastic year for the Mavericks and has pulled out several close, crucial wins for the team. However, as her individual play positively increases, Doran still has team goals on her mind.

“As a team one of our early goals was to beat the University of Sioux Falls which we did,” Doran said. “That was a really close match and for us to close it out was huge. I think overall we just want to stay positive and make it far in the tournament at the end of the season.”

Doran emphasizes that her focus on team goals comes from a genuine love for her tennis teammates.

“I think my favorite part of being a Minnesota State student-athlete is just my team. They really are like my second family and we do a lot together,” Doran said. “There are several us that live pretty far away from home so we’re able to spend a lot of quality time with each other, which is great. Just being a Maverick athlete in general is great because our school has so many successful teams and I love being a part of that.”

As far as free time goes, Doran tries to fill it with schoolwork and other positive organizations on campus.

“I’m a psychology major so that takes up a lot of my time, “ Doran said. “And I’m also in the Alpha Sigma Alpha sorority on campus, which is a lot of fun. I joined my freshman year because I was looking for a way to get involved on campus, do community service and meet new people.”

Eventually, Doran would like to go to graduate school for sports and performance psychology, but while she’s at MSU she wants to make the most of her experiences.

“It’s great being a part of the athletic community and I feel proud that I can be someone to look up to,” Doran said. “As I continue to play these next few years I hope we can be successful as a team and make it through the NSIC tournaments.”

Doran and the rest of the Maverick tennis team continue to work their way toward the 2016 Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference tournament scheduled for April 22-24 in Minnetonka, Minn.

Contributed by Kelcie Richmond, Minnesota State Athletic Communications intern

                  

Monday, March 28, 2016

Ries Has Eye on the Prize

Minnesota State junior pitcher Coley Ries had a trio of her
photos appear in Mankato Magazine
Second straight Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference Pitcher of the Week recognition for Minnesota State junior pitcher Coley Ries? Third career no-hitter? School record for career strike outs?  You bet.

A two-time All-NSIC selection, Ries has been on fire in 2016, tossing her third career no-hitter in a 5-0 win vs. Central Oklahoma and pitching 45.1 scoreless innings up until last Tuesday’s game against the Concordia-St. Paul Golden Bears.
  
The Eagle Lake, Minn., native is right at home when it comes to being a player in Mankato. Eagle Lake is situated just east of Mankato and Ries was an all-state performer for Mankato East High School. “I grew up here, and I always wanted to play somewhere that is already developed. I’m fortunate in having my family be able to watch me play and having the community be able to watch as well,” said Ries.

The multi-faceted righthander loves playing softball on the field and was also a talented tennis and basketball player in high school, but off the field, she has other interests.

Ries has an eye for taking pictures, something that started two years ago when she got a camera for Christmas. At first she was taking pictures of things like her dogs or just something she thought was  photo worthy.

On vacation with her family in Florida, she took several images that caught her eye and recently her work was featured in Mankato Magazine, a local monthly publication. When these photos were posted in the magazine, many people were surprised to see her name under the photos. “It is fun to get my pictures out there. I have gotten messages from people who didn’t know I took pictures; it makes me feel appreciated for my pictures,” Ries said.

Taking pictures is more for fun, just a hobby of Ries’. Not only does she take pictures of her dogs or nature, but she takes family photos for people as well. Mike Hastings, coach of the Maverick men’s hockey team is one of those people who had his family photos taken by Ries.

 “Coley is passionate about the game, she is a competitor and doesn’t like to lose,” said Lori Meyer, head coach of the Minnesota State softball program. “Off the field she is fun and has a lighter side to her. She is a teammate, a friend, and really enjoys her dogs.” Meyer, who is in her 31st year at the Maverick softball helm, feels that Ries’ work ethic for photos “carries over into her softball pitching abilities.”

The end goal, both Ries and Meyer agree, is to have those abilities help lead the Mavericks to success in NSIC regular season and a place in the NCAA Division II postseason tournament. Off to a 21-9 mark in the first 30 games of the 2016 campaign, Minnesota State, with Ries' watchful eye on the prize, is well on its way to reaching those goals.

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                                                                            contributed by Shelbie Werden, Athletic Communications intern


Thursday, March 10, 2016

Williams Hurdling Her Way to Success

 
Minnesota State's Altoniece Williams established a
school record in the 60m hurdles this year
8.36 seconds.

That’s all it took for Altoniece Williams to break her school record in the 60-meter hurdles. And on the cusp of the NCAA Division II national championships, that performance ranks as the second-fastest time in nation.

A sophomore at Minnesota State who is pursuing a major in criminal law and corrections, Williams is a Miami, Fla., native which most everyone one would know, is more than 1,700 miles from Mankato.

Following high school, Williams spent a year at Iowa Central College running track where she caught the eye of Chris Parno, who coaches Minnesota State’s sprinters and hurdlers.  

 “Altoniece came to Minnesota State for a track meet last season as a member of the Iowa Central team and then I saw her at two other track meets. I also know her junior college coach which made it easy to recruit her here.”

“I wanted to experience something new and different,” said Williams about venturing northward from the Sunshine State. Intent on experiencing something different and getting away from the heat of Miami, Williams points out that while she’s experienced success on the track, she also enjoys her time in Minnesota. “I really enjoy the snow and the weather. I had never experienced snow until I went to Iowa. I made snow angels and snow balls and even tasted the snow when I saw it for the first time.”

Concentrating being the best that she can be as a well-rounded student-athlete, Williams does not do much outside of track and school work.

Jen Blue, the who was named 2016 Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference Women’s Indoor Track & Field Coach of the Year after leading the Mavericks to the league team title appreciates what Williams has contributed to the program in her first year in Mankato.

“Altoniece is a team player and leads by example. She has a solid work ethic and works hard every day at what she does,” said Blue. “Not only do her coaches know how hard she works, but she knows if she puts in the time and effort she will see the results she has been hoping for.

“I push myself to try and get better every day,” said Williams. “My goal is to be number one and it is always great to break my own records, but I also try to improve myself each week.”

Williams competed in the 200 meters, the 60-meter hurdles, and the 4x4 relay at this year’s indoor conference meet a post personal bests of 8.36 in the 60m hurdles and the in the 200m (:25.00).

The Mavericks compete in the NCAA DII championship meet March 11-12 in Pittsburg, Kan., where Williams will make her national debut.

Contributed by Shelbie Werden, Athletic Communications Intern

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