Welcome to MavBlog!

Welcome to MavBlog • Providing Insite & Information on the Mavericks Since 1985Mankato, Minn.

Friday, September 30, 2016

It's a Family Thing

Ali Paul, Lily Paul and Marina Paul have all run cross country
and been members of the track & field teams at Minnesota State
It runs in the family.

Lily Paul enters her sophomore year as a member of the Minnesota State women’s cross country and track and field teams. Not coincidentally, both of her older sisters, Ali and Marina, were also runners for the Mavericks

Cedar Grove is a small town of just over 2,000 people located in southeastern Wisconsin and this is where it all began for the trio of young tracksters. Lester Paul, Lily’s father, built a 5k running track on the family’s home property. “I never missed a day running with my dad in high school,” said Lily. “I ran with him every step of the way. He stressed more than just being a good runner. He made sure we worked as hard as we could."

Les Paul was never much a runner growing up. A bodybuilder and wrestler, he basically was the opposite of a runner. But after seeing the eldest of the Paul progeny, Ali, gain success as a runner, his coaching career started to take flight. “He has four daughters and three of us have ran here at Minnesota State. He put his passion and time into running, so we could be the best runners we could be.”

(Besides Ali, Marina and Lily, the fourth Paul sister, Chloe, ran in high school and is in the mixed choir and an a capella group at UW-Eau Claire)).

Ali Paul was an All-American runner at Minnesota State who also qualified for Junior Nationals. Marina ran for all four of her collegiate years in Mankato and her senior season was her best season where she earned all-conference, all-region, and the team’s top runner accolades.

Now, Lily is leading the women’s cross country team as its top runner.

“I didn’t come in expecting to be a top performer. My dad kind of told me to shoot for the middle of the pack to start and as freshman season began I was a top two runner. Then, by the start of the second half of the season, I took the jump as our top runner.”

Lily finished 60th at the 2015 NCAA DII Central Regional championship and was Minnesota State's top finisher and earned all-conference second team honors with an 18th-place finish (23:51.4) at the 2015 Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference championship meet.

This unexpected success built a confidence in Lily that she carries with her into her sophomore year.

Minnesota State women’s cross country and track and field coach Jen Blue had Lilly’s two older sisters as student-athletes, instilling a comfort in Lily’s decision to compete for the Mavericks.

“I have known Coach Blue since I was in sixth grade. She knows our family very well and talks to my parents like they are longtime family friends. We work well together.”

Now in her 15th season as the head cross country and track and field coach with the Mavericks, coach Blue had Ali Paul through her All-American season at Minnesota State, which helped Marina (an All-NSIC runner who placed 20th for the Mavericks at the 2014 conference championships) and Lily get to know her and the program better while watching their older sister succeed.

They are all their own unique person. They have similar mannerisms. Marina and Lily run like each other. Ali was more introverted. Lily is the most outgoing. They are all very driven and lot of this comes from their dad pushing them growing up. He is intense” said Blue.

This work ethic has led to a lot of success in the Maverick uniform. Lily looks to continue this success by following the Paul tradition here at Minnesota State.

       contributed by Trevor Patterson, Minnesota State Athletic Communications intern

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.