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Monday, May 28, 2012

True Grit

In sandpaper terms, grit refers to the number of abrasive particles per inch of sandpaper. The lower the grit the rougher the sandpaper and conversely, the higher the grit number the smoother the sandpaper. You’re going to need #40 if you want to strip some paint off that chest of drawers and #600 if you want to knock the dust nibs off of your wood project.

Grit relative to sport is not as easily definable, but usually is used to describe a team’s or player’s resilience, sticktuitiveness, self-sacrifice, toughness, etc. No matter what sport, a player who is said to be “gritty” will undoubtedly have a big “want to” factor. These are the kind of heart-and-soul players every team wants and all good teams have them.

Having worked in the department since 1985, it’s relatively easy to point to several instances where we’ve seen evidence of Maverick student-athletes that were of the #40 grit variety.

John Kelling
Safety John Kelling was named to three All-America teams as a senior in 1991 and was recognized as the National Defensive Player of the Year by the Football Gazette. A player who came to MSU as a walk-on, but was starting by the end of his freshman season, Kelling was a hard-hitting, athletic player who was a part of a stifling MSU defense that helped the Mavericks to a NCAA play-off appearance in 1991. The Rochester, Minn., native, who was inducted into our Hall of Fame in 2004, played the last four games of his junior season with a cast on a broken right hand. He finished that year with a team-high four interceptions.

Football defensive back Donnell Boyer, who also played outfield for the Minnesota State baseball team, cracked his sternum during a kick-off return his junior season in a game vs. Bemidji State in 2001 and continued to play. The Maverick football team of the early 1990’s threw the ball a ton and we saw wide receiver John Davis (1993-97) get up after taking an unbelievably hard hit over the middle and continue to play. As did another diminutive receiver, Jeff Spikner (1992-95). Running back Sean Treasure, who played in 2004 and 2005, was ran out of bounds on the visitor’s sideline where he dropped after smacking into the unforgiving Blakeslee Stadium cement infrastructure. He, too, stayed in the game.

Men’s hockey defenseman Tyler Elbrecht suffered a broken arm in the first game of the 2011-12 season and was said to be out for a minimum of eight weeks. Yet, less than six weeks after having surgery in which a rod and screws were inserted to piece his radius and ulna back together, Elbrecht was back on the ice, manning the blue line in a game vs. the University of Minnesota.

Third baseman Geno Glynn, who recently signed as a pitcher with the Sioux City Explorers of the American Association, was named MVP of the 2009 Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference tournament. The following weekend, the Mavericks headed to Grand Junction, Colo., where they played in the NCAA Central Region tournament. Glynn, who hit .545 (12-for-22) with nine runs scored, two home runs and 10 RBI in five games at the 2009 NSIC tourney, continued to hit at the regional, but a debilitating hamstring injury limited him to designated hitter’s duties. Glynn drilled a couple of balls into the gap, but instead of sliding into second for doubles, the line drives were just long singles as Glynn limped down to first where he would be replaced by a pinch runner.

Theresa Mackey, a second baseman, played softball for the Mavericks from 1991-94. The Boone, Iowa native stood atop nine different career statistical categories upon graduation and was named MSU’s senior female student-athlete of the year in 1994. There was a time where Mackey took a ground ball in the face during pregame at Caswell Park in North Mankato. It was a bad one, with the bad hop breaking her nose and sending her to the emergency room for repairs. She made it back in time to start MSU’s second game that day.

Amanda Umhoefer
Most recently, the MSU softball team was hosting NCAA Division II Central Region games on campus. The Mavericks were playing Concordia and second baseman Amanda Umhoefer, was batting. With the count 1-0, Umhoefer took a cut at a rising fastball which, subsequently, deflected back into her face. The Mankato native took a ride to the emergency room and the next day with a bandage covering her stitched up nose and sunglasses hiding a couple of black eyes, there she was, back out at second base. “There was no way that I wasn’t going to play,” said the fifth-year senior.

There are many other examples. Andy Mazurek, an All-North Central Conference center along the offensive line for the football Mavericks from 1993-96, started all four years and although he must have played with bumps, bruises and other infirmaries during that time, didn’t miss one game, having played in 46 straight contests. National champion wrestler Jason Rhoten, along with basketball guards Joe Williams and Tiffany Moe come to mind. Men’s hockey forward B.J. Abel and baseball catcher Matt Haefner, too, were gamers. There are countless outhers.

It’s also a tribute to our athletic trainers and team doctors that these student-athletes have always been game-ready.

It’s great to be a gritty Maverick!

Monday, May 21, 2012

Added Value

Franklin Rogers Park in Mankato
 Undeniably, it's been an unbelievable run for the Minnesota State baseball team here the last couple of weeks.

The Mavericks captured the Northern Sun Intercollegiate Athletic Conference regular-season title and as the top team in the league, was the number one seed at the NSIC post-season tournament. It was pre-determined that MSU would serve as the host for the six-team go-round, but having the tournament in Mankato would mean that the Mavericks would advantageously sleep in their own beds for the duration of the four-day event.  MSU won the tournament and as the top seed in the region, earned the right to host a regional for the first time since 1988. Again the Mavericks were successful, winning all four games this past week at Franklin Rogers Park and earning a trip to the NCAA DII National Championship Tournament. 

The Mavericks, who stand 48-10 for the season, will not be sleeping in their own beds for the national tournament, with the eight regional championship teams from around the country all meeting in Cary, N.C., beginning this Saturday to determine the best in the land.

Hosting postseason league events is nothing new for Minnesota State Athletics. And, in fact, NCAA regional and national events have also become the norm.  Especially when you take a glance at the last five years.

The 2011-12
Hosted NCAA Division II Track and Field Championships
Hosted NSIC Indoor Track and Field Championships
Hosted NSIC Soccer Tournament
Hosted NCAA DII Softball Central SubRegion Tournament
Hosted NSIC Baseball Tournament
Hosted NCAA DII Baseball Central Region Tournament

Hosted NSIC Soccer Tournament
Hosted NCAA DII Central Region Tournament (MBB)
Hosted First Round NSIC Tournament Game (MBB)
Hosted NSIC Baseball Tournament
Hosted NCAA DII Softball Central Sub-Region Tournament
Hosted Midwest Conference Diving Championships

Hosted NCAA DII Football Playoff Game
Hosted NCAA DII Central Region Tournament (MBB)
Hosted NCAA DII Women’s Golf Regional
First Round NSIC Tournament Game (MBB)

Hosted NCAA Division II Central Region Tournament (WBB)
Hosted First Round NSIC Tournament Game (MBB)
Hosted First Round NSIC Tournament Game (WBB)

Hosted NCAA Division II Indoor Track and Field Championships
Hosted NSIC Indoor Track and Field Championships
Hosted WCHA Men’s Hockey First-Round Series
Hosted First Round NCC Tournament Game (MBB)
Hosted NCAA DII Central Region Wrestling Tournament
NCAA DII Soccer Central Regional
NCC Soccer Tournament

A few observations.

27 events in the last five years. The last two conference baseball tournaments, the track & field, golf, wrestling and swimming events - hosting has been earned by MSU teams as regular-season league champions. So, for the most part, the high number of events is indicative of our extremely successful programs. And it hasn't just been one program.  It's been several.

The Greater Mankato Convention and Visitors Bureau recently was quoted as saying that the NSIC postseason baseball tournament brings an estimated $80,000 worth of economic impact to town. While we don't have all the numbers, it's safe to assume that the Mavericks vs. Gophers men's hockey postseason series, in which Verizon Wireless Center was packed to the rafters for three straight scintillating games in March of 2008, would provide a much higher number.  Same thing for the men's basketball regional in 2009-10 and the women's basketball regional in 2008-09. So there's a financial effect.

Lastly, while there's a strong belief that hosting postseason events provides a competitive advantage for our teams, something earned through regular season success, there's also the long-term benefit. One in which such events allows us to proudly showcase our facilities, the University and the city. These events bring back alumni and provide opportunities to make positive impressions on future students and student-athletes.

It's great to be a Maverick!

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Ties That Bind

Bob Matuska was a
quarterback for the Mavericks
in the late '70s-early '80s
while his sister Kathy was
a member of the women's
basketball team from 1980-84
Fathers, Sons, Mothers, Daughters, Brothers, Sisters.  Grandfathers, even

It struck us recently following a Minnesota State softball game, one in which the Erickson sisters (Chelsea and Lindsey) had yet again played key roles in another Maverick victory, that there have been several families involved with our successes over the years.

And by families, we were referring to multiple members of a single family who had played varsity athletics for the Mavericks over the years.

So we started putting together a list and came up with several families which had more than one member who played a sport at MSU.  This list appears below and, yes, it's a partial list (c'mon, it was off the top of our heads).  Send us a note if you know of others and we'll add them.

Some quick observations - not always, but for the most part, the families stick to one sport within that family (softball players play softball, pole vaulters pole vault, etc). And, again for the most part, we're talking team sports amongst the individual sport cohorts. Not always, but most of the time.

And while brother combinations are the most common, sister groupings like the three volleyball-playing Sandstroms aren't that far behind.  There have been fathers and sons who have competed for teams at MSU, along with mothers and daughters, but probably the most unique tie comes from the Swanson family.  Grandfather Ken played basketball for MSC from 1947-50 and was inducted into the school's Athletics Hall of Fame in 1988. His granddaughters Amy and Angie played hoops for the Mavericks from 1992-96 and 1996-2000, respectively.

They say that blood is thicker than water. If so, then these folks must be bleeding purple!

Andrews - Glenda (volleyball, 1981-82), Arin (basketball, 2002-06), Alex (basketball, 2005-09), (mother & siblings)
Black - Bryant (golf, 2006-10), Bennett (golf, 2010-SA),  (siblings)
Bresnahan - Bob (baseball, 1977-80), Jay (baseball, 2006-09, Jamie (basketball, 2011-SA) (father & siblings)
Davis - Carl (hockey, 1975-79), Kurt (hockey, 2007-11) (father & son)
Dusosky - Shannon (soccer, 1997-2000), Amber (soccer, 1999-2003) (siblings)
Carroll - Mike (baseball & hockey 1975-80), Steve (hockey, 1977-81), Pat (hockey, 1981-85) (siblings)
Connelly - Steve (football, 1989-92), Craig (football, 1993-96) (siblings)
Englehart - Marie (soccer, 1998-01), Michelle (soccer, 1998-01) (siblings)
Erickson - Chelsea (softball, 2009-12), Lindsey (softball, 2011-SA) (siblings)
Essel - Buzz (hockey, 1972-76), Bill (hockey, 1974-78) (siblings)
Follmer - Jim (hockey, 1979-82), Pat (hockey, 1974-77), Tom (hockey, 1985-86) (siblings)
Forliti - Steve (hockey, 1977-81), Pat (hockey, 1985-87) (siblings)
Glynn - Gene (baseball & basketball, 1975-79), Geno (baseball, 2006-08) (father & son) 
Heller - Brent (football, 1998-01), Brian (football, 1998-01) (siblings)
Johnson - Randy (baseball, 1980-83), Nolan (baseball, 2010-SA) (father & son)
Johnson - Steve (wrestling, 1969-71), Ross (wrestling, 1995-97) (father & son)
Jutting - Troy (hockey, 1982-86), Todd (hockey, 1985-89), Trent (hockey, 1989-90) (siblings)
Kelly - Tim (football, 1982-85), Marty (football, 1984-87), Pat (football, 1990-93, Kathy (volleyball), Nancy (softball, volleyball, 1986-89) (siblings)
Klinsing - Marti (soccer, 2007-08), Danni (soccer, 2001-04) (siblings) 
Knoll - Dale (basketball & baseball, 1939-42), Dean (basketball, baseball, TF, 1940-46) (siblings) 
Lepel - Joel (baseball, 1976-80), Tim (baseball, 1985-88), Tom (baseball, 1985-88) (siblings)
Mackley - Brittany (hockey, 2004-08), Ariel (hockey, 2008-12) (siblings) 
Matuska - Bob (football 1978-81), Kathy (women's basketball, 1980-84) (siblings)
McElvogue - Brooke (softball, 2006-09), Courtney (softball, 2010-SA) (siblings)
Morrow - Jake (basketball, 2005-09), Taylor (basketball, 2007-11) (siblings) 
Noreen - Joanne (basketball, 2005-09), Jenny (basketball, 2008-12) (siblings)
Norgren - Aaron (wrestling, 2008-SA), Paul (wrestling, 2010-12) (siblings)
Odegaard - Greg (baseball, 1980-81), Chris (baseball, 2007-09), Matt (baseball, 2008-12) (father & sons)
O'Brien - Dan (baseball, 1972-76), Connor (basketball, 2011-SA), (father & son)
Peterson - Cevin (TF, 1974-77), A.J. (TF, 2001-05) (father & son)
Pfenning - Nikki (soccer, 1995-98), Jen (1997-2000) (siblings)
Saatzer - Dan (hockey, 1977-78), Dave (hockey, 1975-79) (siblings)
Sandstrom - Kari (volleyball, 2001-04), Stef (volleyball, 2004-07), Kelly (volleyball, 2006-10) (siblings)
Schuck - Mark (basketball, cc/tf, 1966-70), Angie (track & field, 1988-90) (father & daughter)
Schweizer - Frank (cross country/tf, 1956-60), Mike (cross country/tf, 1986-90) (father & son)
Stadum - Chad (baseball, 1991-95), Jeremy (baseball, 1994-98) (siblings)
Sudbeck - Adam (baseball, 2004-07), Jeremy (baseball, 2012) (siblings)
Stuart - Ed (track & field, 1977-82), Adrian (track & field, 2001-05) (father & son)
Swanson - Ken (basketball, football & baseball, 1947-50), Amy (basketball, 1992-96), Angie (basketball, 1996-00) (grandfather & siblings)
Walters - Cheryl (basketball, 1983-87), Lisa (basketball, 1984-88) (siblings)
Van Gilder - Wade (baseball, 19994-97), Ryan (baseball, 1995-97) (siblings) 
Weldon - Dan (football, 1999-02), Matt (football, 2000-03) (siblings)
Weller - Dale (baseball, 1963-65), Dan (baseball, 1965-69) (siblings) 
Wolle - Mike (basketball, 1991-95), Kris (volleyball, basketball, 1999-03) (siblings)
Woodall - Larry (baseball, 1976-79), Dan (baseball, 2005-07) (father & son)
Ziemke - Josh (basketball, 1998-04), Jared (basketball & football, 1999-03) (siblings) 

Others receiving votes:  Bowyer (Dean didn't play here, but the longtime Maverick skipper coached his son Shane, who did), Kaus (Ben played baseball and basketball and younger brother Nick is currently a redshirt with the baseball team), Ries (softball recruit Coley's mom, Sue, played tennis from 1979-81) and McCann (tennis recruit Sarah is the daughter of Ron, who played baseball here from 1978-80).

It's great to be a Maverick (family)!