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Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Posit - Kendra and Lisa

A couple of days before Jim Rueda of the Mankato Free Press published his "I was wrong about Kendra" article, which appeared on July 18, we were discussing where Kendra Huettl stacks up compared to other great Mavericks.  Both in this era and previous eras.

Whereas JR's column talked about his perception five years ago as to whether or not Kendra, a Mankato native, would be able to have an impact as a softball player with the Mavericks (she did), our conversation was one in which now that her career is over, is there anyone, male or female, who has been as successful on and off the court as Kendra has been?

Kendra is probably the most decorated student-athlete in the history of the school. By decorated we are referring to awards she has won.  And, in fairness to other great MSU student-athletes (of which there are many), the opportunity to win awards nowadays is much greater than it was 25 years ago. There are many more organizations doling out awards, athletic departments are doing a better job of publicizing accomplishments and the web has opened the door for more people to have a say, so current intercollegiate student-athletes have more opportunities to get recognition.

That being said, there's no denying Kendra's greatness as a softball player during her time at MSU which spans the last four seasons (five if you count a redshirt year).  She holds school records for career strike outs and appearances and ranks highly in several other statistical categories as well. And while she was a NSCA Third Team All-America this year, it was her academic accomplishments that seperate her from the rest of the field. Named the Capital One Academic All-American of the Year for DII Softball this year (along with just about every other conceivable award she could win), she had a 3.99 grade point average and graduated with a degree in nursing.   She's one of our all-time top softball players and will be remembered as one of the school's top all-around student athletes.

Her MSU doppleganger, albeit from a different era, is women's basketball player Lisa (Walters) Sukalski. Inducted into the MSU Athletics Hall of Fame in 1998, Lisa was a silky and graceful forward/center who led the Mavericks to their first-ever women's basketball North Central Conference title and first-ever NCAA tournament appearance as a sophomore in 1985-86.  Lisa, who like Huettl was the national Academic All-America of Year for her sport, MSU's top female student-athlete and the league's top female student-athlete as a senior, owns several of MSU's scoring and rebounding career records. The Henderson, Minn., native epitomized the term student-athlete, combining success on and off the court. And, again not unlike Kendra, one of Lisa's most likable traits was that it was pretty obvious that while she appreciated the awards, her focus was on the team and on her school work.

Lisa, who spent a year playing professionally in Sweden after graduating from MSU, was inducted into MSU's Hall of Fame immediately after becoming eligible following ten years after playing for the Mavericks.

We fully expect that Kendra will follow a similar path.

It's great to be a Maverick.

Friday, August 3, 2012

Back in the Day - Vikings Move to Mankato

University press release announcing that the Minnesota Vikings
would begin holding their
summer training camp in Mankato beginning in 1966

One of the great things about our office is you never know what you'll find and research projects oftentimes get waylaid by something you come upon by happenstance.

This happened a few years ago when I found a box of files that apparently had once belonged to former MSU football coach and athletic director Bob Otto.  The box contained a variety of files not necessarily related to each other, but undoubtedly related to the goings-on within the athletics department during his tenure as men's AD from 1970-83. And, as it turns out, carried over some files from one of his predecessors, John Hodapp.

Hopdapp served as MSU's director of men's athletics from 1964-68 and was here during the time that negotiations took place to bring the Minnesota Vikings to Mankato for summer training camp.  The Vikings had spent the summers of 1961 through 1965 in Bemidji, but as we all know, eventually moved to Mankato for camp in 1966 and have been here ever since.  Eric Stromgren writes in his Up North Sports Report that there's some question as to why camp moved, but alludes to the fact Mankato being closer was one of the primary reasons.

In any event, a plain folder in the box entitled Minnesota Vikings contains a number of documents including training camp contracts, news paper clippings, receipts and various financial statements. There's also correspondence between former Vikings general manager Jim Finks, former Vikings coach Bud Grant, Otto and Hodapp.

While some things haven't changed all that much (with the exception of the one summer that the Vikings were housed in Julia Sears Residence Community, they've always been housed in Gage for example), a couple of things from the first contract stand out. Yes, training camp was longer with the first camp in 1966 running from July 12 through August 31.  And while I don't know what the Vikings pay for lodging and three meals a day now, but back in 1966 the cost was $7.90 per man per day. Also, back in 1966, an attached "special services contract" indicates that the Vikings paid a rental fee of $1,000 for the use of the football fields, locker rooms, showers, equipment room and training room.

Things seemed a lot simpler back then.

Have a great weekend.  It's great to be a Maverick.