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By Jason Nickleby
MSHSL Coordinator of Officials

A simple "thank you" is just not enough gratitude to show Larry Gallagher.

Gallagher, 75, is in his sixth decade of giving back. Whether as a teacher, coach, baseball umpire, basketball official, or officials' mentor, Gallagher fills the role with zest, compassion and a guiding encouragement.

He is a true example of dedication and commitment to education-based athletics. I know this firsthand. I would not have gone far down the officiating path without his mentorship.

Gallagher, who taught and coached at Tartan High School in Oakdale, continues to serve as a baseball rules interpreter and is state baseball coordinator for the Minnesota State High School League. He isn't done officiating yet, either. He still officiates less-than-varsity basketball games and is down to umpiring "just" 100 baseball games.

For more than 20 years, Gallagher averaged umpiring more than 150 baseball games during the summer season. He began his umpiring career at age 15. He could call balls and strikes, yet he wasn't old enough to drive.

I have known Larry since he coached junior varsity girls basketball with my dad on the other sideline. I would see him again as an umpire at many of my Legion baseball games during my playing days. I knew him to be the consummate professional in all that he did. He was always on the lookout for what was best for kids and the game.

As time has marched on, he hasn't changed that mantra.

I have come to know Larry well after joining Northwest Umpires in 2002. His guidance and mentorship helped pave the way to me working the state baseball tournament six times. I also worked a championship game at Target Field in 2010.

Now in my role with the League, I have the continued honor of working with him to promote baseball umpires and to help them achieve their goals.

Gallagher was inducted into the Columbia Heights High School hall of fame in 2009. A year later, he was given the same honor by Northwest Umpires. In 2011, he was selected a member of the Minnesota Baseball Coaches Association's Class A hall of fame.

The Twins got into the act, too, honoring Larry earlier this year with the "Play Ball! Minnesota Terry Ryan Award as a Friend of the Game during the Diamond Awards celebration.

What he has meant to our industry and our state is beyond measure. It's a legacy that is beyond compare and one that will just continue to grow.

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The 2015 Why We Play Conference

Attendees will have the opportunity to learn from and network with coaches and administrators from across the state to share best practices and strategies on coaching the heart and mind of today’s athletes. Individual sessions will center on intentionally educating students through purpose-based coaching.

School Implementation Teams
The Athletic Administrator will assemble a team of coaches and influencers in the school community to effectively implement WHY WE PLAY. Attendees will be guided through a process which will enable them to develop a school specific action plan and establish accountability and WWP implementation strategies to support and sustain change. The shift in culture from a win-at-all-cost mentality to a human development mindset will positively impact the culture of sports within the school community and ultimately impact the intentional growth of students.

New and Newer ADs
Attendees will acquire a better understanding of who the League is how we operate, emphasizing; member school responsibilities, coaches education, professional development, the role of the athletic administrator in the school community, and MSHSL rules, policies, bylaws and case studies. There will be an overview of certifying student eligibility, conducting eligibility investigations, and applying participation penalties and suspensions.

MN Head Coaches Course
Attendees who wish to become a Head Coach in MN but do not hold a MN Coaching License will begin the process by attending the MN Head Coaches Course being held in conjunction with the WHY WE PLAY conference. Attendees will be invited to attend the keynote session and then will breakout to their assigned classrooms for the remainder of the day.

Click the image above to get registered.      
100 Years: Top Coaches & Players
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To help us celebrate the MSHSL's 100 Year Anniversary we are asking you to vote on the top athletes and coaches and narrow down our list to the best of the best. Each week we'll run two concurrent polls selecting a few matchups from our tournament style brackets ( www.mshsl.org/100Years).
A new voting window for coaches and players begins every Thursday. To get started, click the "Vote Now" button below.

Great teams, successful programs, and lasting championship legacies all have a common denominator: Strong leadership at the top.

Minnesota high school sports are littered with successful coaches who have created championship memories and positive impacts that have spanned decades and generations.

In honor of the Minnesota State High School League's 100-year anniversary, we set out to find out who is the state's best high school coach of all time. To do that, we need your help.

Through extensive research, the top 100 coaches in a variety of MSHSL activities were determined. It was an arduous task paring the list to just 100, but those are the rules!

The communications department conducted a draft where coaches were seeded and placed in one of four regions. The regions are named after the MSHSL's most common mascots.

Eagle Regional Tiger RegionalPanther RegionalCardinal Regional

With four weeks of voting elapsed in the Minnesota State High School League's Top 100 players tournament, four upsets stand out.

In the Murrae Freng Regional, No. 21-seed Ollie Bakken, the former St. Paul Harding and University of Minnesota football standout, upended No. 12 Verne Gagne. Gagne, who passed away on April 27, was a football standout and professional wrestling icon. Bakken moves on to face No. 5 Ron Johnson in the second round.

Over in the Dave Stead Regional, Duluth's Kara Wheeler, the No. 20 seed, upset No. 13 Von Shepherd of St. Paul Central in the opening round. Wheeler, a standout distance runner, advances to take on No. 4 Terry Steinbach, a New Ulm baseball legend.

Northfield gymnast Bailey DuPay, Minnesota's first-ever Class AA three-time all-around gymnastics champion and the No. 19 seed, recorded a victory over No. 14 Jena Kluegel, a former Mahtomedi soccer standout.

In other first-round matches in the four regionals, No. 8 Bob McNamara defeated No. 25 Nikki Klingsporn, No. 8 Krissy Wendell topped No. 25 Louis Ayeni, No. 17 Whitney Taney edged No. 16 Jerry Kindall, Non. 12 Bob Blakeley defeated No. 21 Katie Class, and No. 8 Leonard Jones recorded a victory over No. 25 Kristen Schmidt. In another No. 16 vs. No. 17 matchup, South St. Paul's Doug Woog defeated Bloomington Jefferson's Ahn Nguyen.

Keeping voting and enjoy the journey to determine the top student-athlete of all time in Minnesota!

Dave Stead Regional Orv Bies RegionalMurrae Freng RegionalB.H. Hill Regional


The Minnesota State High School League is celebrating its 100th year of providing extra-curricular opportunities in athletics and fine arts.

The League is proud of its 100-year legacy, and in honor of the milestone in 2016, we share yearly snapshots taken along the way.

Please join us in a celebratory look at our heritage.

Posted by Tim Leighton (tleighton@mshsl.org) - Updated 7/6/2015 1:54:27 PM

• It was customary for schools of this era to reward their student-athletes with letter sweaters or jackets.
That practice was halted, however, on March 24 during the annual meeting of the Representative Assembly.
A resolution was submitted by Ely Superintendent Walter E. Englund and proposed by J.E. Lunn, superintendent of Nashwauk. It was as follows:
“Whereas, it is now the custom among the schools of the state to give rather expensive awards, particularly sweaters, for prowess in athletic and other extra-curricular activities, and whereas, there is considerable doubt as to the ultimate educational benefit which is derived from such a procedure.
It is hereby resolved that this Association go on record as favoring a modification of the present system so that no school in the state will give an individual award bonus whose intrinsic value will exceed one dollar ($1).”
The motion was adopted.

• Three days prior to any athletic event, superintendents would exchange lists of students eligible to participate in that event. The following school year, the Board of Control moved to a system that showed a student’s eligibility for the entire school year.
• It was approved by the League’s Board of Control that junior high school students in Bovey were eligible to participate in activities at Coleraine Senior High School.
• Reserved seats for the basketball championship game on a Saturday night were $1.25.
• A general admission ticket for a student was 35 cents.
• Insurance for athletes is proposed for the first time during a January meeting of the League’s Board of Control.
• Duluth Central is given permission to sponsor a State Senior-Junior High School Ski Meet for three years. The event at Chester Park will feature cross country skiing and ski jumping for two divisions: senior high school students and junior high students.
• MSHSL executive secretary O.E. Smith offers to take a $300 reduction on his salary. The board approved the move.
• Mankato won the state debate championship. Perham was the runner-up.
• Red Wing wins the boys basketball state championship for the fourth time with a victory over Minneapolis North. The Wingers also won crowns in 1915, ’20, and ’22. It was Red Wing’s ninth appearance since the state tournament started in 1913.

Posted by Tim Leighton (tleighton@mshsl.org) - Updated 6/22/2015 11:14:03 AM

• The MSHSL announces a major redistricting plan, one that includes the Minneapolis Public Schools.
In 1924, the eight geographic regions in Minnesota were numbered beginning with Region 1 in northwest Minnesota and Region 8 was in the southwest part of the state. Under the new plan, Region 1 was in the southeast part of Minnesota and Region 8 was in the northwest. The eight high schools in Minneapolis were played in District 17 of Region 5.
• The league’s handbook is dedicated to Rochester Superintendent G.H. Sandberg, who had served eight years on the board and was instrumental in the formation of the Minnesota State High School Athletic Association which evolved into the Minnesota State High School League in 1929. Sandberg was a distinguished presence in the Debate League. “His advice and counsel helped materially in the formation of our present organization,” said O.E. Smith, executive secretary of the MSHSL.
• Princeton won the coveted Sportsmanship Trophy at the boys basketball state tournament.
• The penalty for playing an ineligible player resulted in a forfeiture of the game and a one-year suspension for that player.
• Membership in the MSHSL grows by two more schools to 457.
• Approximately 25 schools were playing boys ice hockey. An unofficial state tournament would not be played until 10 years later.
• Litchfield’s 73-game winning streak in girls basketball came to an end. It was trumpeted by newspaper syndicates as a world’s record.
• Grand Meadow was in the midst of its own record-run in girls basketball, winning 94 consecutive games from 1929-39.

Check back for more weekly looks at the MSHSL's "100 years of memories."

More of the Countdown to 100

From Minnesota To Rwanda: The Drive Behind ‘All Day Fore Africa’
Posted by John Millea(jmillea@mshsl.org)- Updated 7/6/2015 1:50:33 PM

An important event will take place in Worthington on Monday, July 13. The sixth annual All Day Fore Africa golf outing will blend golf, fun and fundraising in an effort to assist people in Rwanda.

All Day Fore Africa is the brainchild of Kate Lesnar, who founded the program several years ago when she was in high school; Kate is now in college. I first wrote about All Day Fore Africa in June 2012, when Kate was a junior in high school and playing in the state golf tournament.

As the below story states, you can learn about All Day Fore Africa by clicking on a Facebook page under that name or Googling "All Day Fore Africa."

Here's my story from 2012...

As Kate Lesnar plays in the Class 2A state golf tournament Tuesday and Wednesday at the Ridges at Sand Creek course near Jordan, she will surely concentrate on each shot but her mind may wander ever so slightly. The student at Worthington High School, who will be a senior in the fall, can be forgiven if her thoughts turn to children and families who live 8,000 miles away but know they can count on their friend Kate.

Kate is passionate about golf and talented at the game, also qualifying for the state tournament a year ago. Her other passion is the village of Kibeho in the African nation of Rwanda and the children who attend St. Stanislaus School there. One week after the state tournament ends, Kate will wake up very early to head for Worthington Country Club and a day of fundraising for the children in Rwanda.

It’s quite the connection; a teenage girl from Minnesota and a small village in Rwanda. It began because Kate’s mother, Kathy Lesnar, works as a personal manager for Immaculee Ilibagiza, a survivor of genocide in Rwanda during the 1990s who has become a best-selling author and one of the world's leading speakers on peace, faith and forgiveness.

As Kate learned about Immaculee’s background and her mission to aid people in Rwanda, the idea seemed so natural: Raise money by playing 100 holes of golf in a single day, taking pledges from anyone who wanted to contribute. The first event, in 2010, raised more than $10,000, which paid for a new water system for St. Stanislaus School as well as clothing, shoes and similar items.

“My goal was $1,000,” Kate said. “We thought that was really high but we thought we could get close to it. Every single day we’d get checks in the mail; from a person in Georgia and just random people. It was a miracle how it all came together.”

This year’s event will be held June 20 at Worthington Country Club. The non-profit project is called “All Day Fore Africa” (you can find a website under that name as well as a Facebook page). The project is subtitled “Kids Playing For Kids” because much of the work is done by teens and younger children. An example: Kate’s younger sister Annie and her friend Kailey Wendland will help raise money by performing with their guitars at BenLee's Cafe in downtown Worthington on June 19, with BenLee's donating a portion of each lunch sold to the cause. More than a dozen people have signed up to play 100 holes in Worthington the next day, so the project is growing.

“Lots of people say, ‘This is such a good idea: Kids using their passion to make a difference.’ It’s a super idea,” Kate said. “It’s going to be as big as God wants it to be.”

After all that money was raised in 2010, Kate, Kathy, Immaculee and several others traveled to Kibeho to visit and present the funds to Father Leszek Czelusniak, the Polish-born priest at St. Stanislaus. Last year’s effort spread to similar events in California, Pennsylvania and Nebraska and raised more than $30,000. Each event is followed by a trip to Kibeho.

Kate will never forget her first journey to the village.

“I was so overwhelmed. They have to walk a mile up a hill to the school. Right when we could see the school, the kids saw us and sprinted out to us. It was so cool seeing how happy they were. They were barefoot, in ripped t-shirts. … They realized that something good had happened. They were all so happy.”

Immaculee Ilibagiza and Father Celusniak will attend next week’s event in Worthington. The Lesnars are hoping that more people around the country learn about All Day Fore Africa and plan their own events.

“I feel like it’s starting,” said Kathy. “Some people may want to go bowling all day for Africa or play soccer. For me as a parent it’s so awesome to see the kids realize they can make a difference in the world. As far as building character, we push our kids to be the best they can be. This organization is focused more on shaping kids’ hearts, and the benefit is as much for the kids in the U.S. It’s planting seeds of love in people’s hearts.”

The money raised this year will go toward teachers and a much-needed medical facility. “When someone’s sick they put them on a stretcher and walk them to the nearest place,” Kate said.

Kathy said, “The medical facility is a big one. We’re talking bigger money, and we can do it.”
The Lesnars will have materials about All Day Fore Africa with them at the state tournament this week, and they will accept donations from anyone who wishes to help. They are happy to spearhead the project, but they know they are not alone.

“It seems like a story about Kate,” Kathy said. “But it’s really a story about a bunch of kids.”

To which Kate added, “And without the community support it never would have grown like this.”

More of John's Journal

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Job Posting: Accounting Assistant 
June Board Meeting Synposis 
June Exec & Elig Committee Agenda  
June Executive Committee Agenda 
June Board Agenda 
Eligibility Committee Meeting Agenda 
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