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Montevideo: Where Homecoming Is King
Posted by John Millea(jmillea@mshsl.org)- Updated 9/26/2016 9:21:53 AM

MONTEVIDEO – Let’s start this essay with the final act of wonderfulness I witnessed during Homecoming Day in Montevideo, home of the Thunder Hawks and some of the nicest people you will ever come across. Friday was big, filled with special events. However, the final moment for me was not a big thing but a little thing, a little thing that exemplifies what makes high school activities so special.

The Thunder Hawks football team had just lost the Homecoming game to Atwater-Cosmos-Grove City. The visiting Falcons led 3-0 at halftime in a game dominated by defense, ACGC’s Jeremy Nelson ran for two short touchdowns in the second half and the Falcons won 24-0.

As the boys of Montevideo left the field to exit the stadium and make the short hike across 17th Street to their school, they walked through a tunnel of humanity. Parents, grandparents, family, friends, little kids and old timers, their fans slapped them on their big shoulder pads, patted the top of their helmets, said “Good game” and “Good job” and wished them luck next week.

I was standing with Montevideo activities director Bob Grey, watching this all take place. I said to Bob what came to mind after spending the day in town: “Bob, these kids are so lucky to grow up here.”

Montevideo is the county seat of Chippewa County, pretty much equidistant between the Twin Cities and Sioux Falls, S.D.; two and a half hours due west of the Twin Cities and two and a half hours northeast of Sioux Falls. It is home to 5,300-some proud souls and has a sister city in Montevideo, Uruguay; a statue of José Artigas, the father of Uruguayan independence, stands proudly in downtown Montevideo, Minnesota.

I see a lot of great things everywhere I go in Minnesota. This trip to Montevideo was a day-long affair, though, making it a very enjoyable deep dive. There was a pep rally featuring a live cow, a wonderful small-town Homecoming parade, free hot dogs before the football game, and a lovely autumn evening to cap it off.

The afternoon pep rally was for everybody, and I mean everybody. Every kid who attends public school in Montevideo crammed into the high school gym, a feat that involved bus rides and other high-wire logistics in herding tiny little tots, classroom by classroom, to their proper seating locations. When all were in place, 1,450 humans – plus teachers and staff – were soon on their feet screaming and clapping for the Thunder Hawk teams.

Football, volleyball, cross-country, girls swimming, girls tennis teams; all were highlighted under the direction of Kyle Goslee, who teaches physical education and coaches softball when he isn’t masterfully ceremony-ing pep rallies with all the screaming gusto of a combination drill sergeant and professional wrestler. (Here’s a brief excerpt from Kyle’s repertoire: “WOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!”)

The cheerleaders scripted many of the activities, including a round-the-gym flurry of cheers from each class, all 13 of ‘em. The kindergarteners kicked it off, following the cheerleaders’ chants and finishing with a very high-pitched “We are the Class of 2029!” And so it went right up to the seniors in the Class of 2017. There were sleeping-bag races, blindfolds and other tomfoolery, and much anticipation for Sammy the cow.

Sammy is not much of a cow, really. She was small enough to be carried into the gym in the arms of a young man and little Sammy stood still while a selectee squatted down and gave her a smooch on the snout. Sammy was returned to her home on the range at that point, and the tarp that had been placed on the gym floor came away unscathed.

The parade. Oh my, the parade. Those little kids sat on the curbs along 17th Street – also known as Thunder Hawk Drive – and waited until it was time to spring into action and scramble for pieces of candy as if they were hundred-dollar bills. The parade was led by the Montevideo Volunteer Fire Department’s largest firetruck, a slow-rolling mastodon of a thing carrying several humans on top … although they were so high in the air it was hard to be specific about details.

There were pickup trucks carrying Homecoming royalty, flatbed trailers carrying teams and clubs, a cute contingent on foot representing Montevideo Elementary School, the great Thunder Hawk marching band, and a float featuring a giant inflatable Minnesota Viking and a large fake can of soup bearing the label “Cream of Falcon Soup” (the ACGC Falcons disrupted that prediction).

As the parade ended, folks lined up for freshly grilled, free hot dogs. Before long the Thunder Hawks and Falcons were on the football field, preparing for the ballgame. Montevideo head coach David Vik took a swig of Diet Squirt, placing the can on the track behind the bench as kickoff came.

For much of the evening, the punters – ACGC’s Adam Johnson and Montevideo’s Reece Kuhlmann – were the busiest guys in town. Another leg specialist, Frederick Hansen, kicked a 24-yard field goal for the Falcons late in the first quarter. The offensive dam didn’t exactly bust after that; the next scoring came midway through the third quarter.

The band members, still in uniform, sat in the stands and entertained everyone in grand style, just as they had done several hours earlier at the pep rally and again during the parade. High school students chatted and cheered, adults handed over cash to little kids bent on attacking the concession stand, the coaches coached and the players played.

The football uniforms displayed some mud by game’s end and the hometown Thunder Hawks came out on the short end of the scoreboard. But as the boys walked off the field, they were met by all those other people who live in their town.

All those lucky people.

--To see a photo gallery from Montevideo, go to the MSHSL Facebook page.

*Schools/teams John has seen/visited: 64
*Miles John has driven in the Toyota Camry in 2016-17: 2,417

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John Millea
4h ago
Thanks. I think all of us with small-town backgrounds appreciate those places. They are special. twitter.com/laufendh/statu

John Millea
5h ago
3A volleyball: Top-ranked Eagan beats 10th-ranked Lakeville North 26-24, 25-18, 25-17. @MSHSLscores

John Millea
6h ago
Volleyball: Eagan wins second set 25-18 at Lakeville North, leads 2-0. @MSHSLscores

John Millea
6h ago
LIVE on : Volleyball: No. 1 3A Eagan at No. 10 3A Lakeville North. periscope.tv/w/arm2vjF6dktO

John Millea
6h ago
Volleyball: Eagan holds off Lakeville North 26-24 in first set. That makes Eagan's record in sets 41-3 this season. @MSHSLscores

John Millea
7h ago
Class 3A volleyball: Top-ranked and defending state champion Eagan at No. 10 Lakeville North.… instagram.com/p/BK4NvSiB05R/

John Millea
8h ago
I'm headed out to a big 3A volleyball matchup this evening:
Top-ranked def state champ Eagan (16-0) at No. 10 Lakeville North (11-5).

MSHSL 11h ago
This week's cross-country rankings...CLASS 1A BOYS
1. Perham
2. Mora
3. LaCrescent
4. West Central Area
5. Mankato Loyola/Cleveland
6. Mounds Park Academy
7 Trinity of River Ridge
8. Minnehahaa Academy
9. Pequot Lakes
10. Esko
11. Jordan
12. Windom Area INDIVIDUALS
1. Declan Dahlberg Mounds Park Acad.
2. Zack Emery LaCrescent
3. Matt Steiger LaCrescent
4. Lucas Mueller Nova Classic
5. Ryley Nelson West Central Area
6. Michael Schwinghamer Mora
7 Mike Mitchell Blake
8. Carl Kozlowski Lake City
9. Alec Sanbeck Mora
10. Jake Paron North Shore
11. Jacob Dickerson Perham
12. Keiser Owen Jordan1A GIRLS
1. Fairmont
2. Perham
3. Luverne
4. Lanesboro/Fillmore Central
5. Lac Qui Parle Valley-DB
6. Stewartville
7. Trinity of River Ridge
8. Proctor
9. Annandale
10 Minnehaha Academy
11. Holy Family Catholic
12. United North Central INDIVIDUALS
1. Tierney Wolfgram Math&Science Acad.
2. Brynnan Covington Perham
3. Anna Donnay Eden Valley-Watkins/K
4. Lynn Kantonen Park Rapids Area
5. Madeline Kelly Providence Acad
6. Katherine Geister Crookston
7. Hailee Heitkamp Breckinridge-W.
8. Brook Wedin Mora
9. Olivia Ohrt Blake
10 Annika Aho United North Central
11.Abby Orvis Stewartville
12.Madison Schandelmeier LuverneCLASS 2A GIRLS
1 Edina
2 Willmar
3 Wayzata
4 Marshall
5 Eden Prairie
6 Mpls Washburn
7 Minnetonka
8 Shakopee
9 Lakeville South
10 Henry Sibley
11 Monticello
12 Forest Lake
Honorable Mention: Lakeville North, White Bear Lake, Prior Lake, Hopkins INDIVIDUALS
1 Emily Covert, 10, Mpls Washburn
2 Amanda Mosborg , 12, Edina
3 Lauren Peterson, 10, Farmington
4 Morgan Richter, 9, Edina
5 Anna Fenske, 8, Farmington
6 Sadie Schreiner, 9, Edina,
7 Sophie Whicher, 11, Minnetonka
8 Star Costa, 11, South St. Paul
9 Maria Rickman, 10, Edina
10 Emily Kompelien, 11, Edina
11 Jesse Hanson, 12, Willmar
12 Sophie Schmitz, 12 Willmar
Honorable Mention: Jaycie Thomsen, 12, Wayzata; Kayla Rudie, 12, Willmar; Renae Anerson, 12 Hopkins; Claire Boersma, 12, Marshall; Mallory Stach, Prior lake, 9; Briane Brewster, 9, Lakeville South; Olivia Orr, 11, Mpls WashburnCLASS 2A BOYS
1 Wayzata
2 Edina
3 Minnetonka
4 Mounds View
5 Stillwater
6 Centennial
7 Maple Grove
8 Hopkins
9 Sartell
10 Eagan
11 Minneapolis Washburn
12 Eden Prairie
Other teams receiving votes: Bemidji

1 Seth Eliason, Hopkins
2 Alex Miley, Maple Grove
3 Khalid Hussein, Wayzata
4 Patrick Roos, Edina
5 Matt WIlkinson, Minnetonka
6 Innocent Murwanashyaka, St. Paul Como Park
7 Reed Kurak, Centennial
8 Colin Dwyer, Prior Lake
9 Ben Olson, Blaine
10 Gemechu Meskele, Wayzata
11 Zachary Miller, Edina
12 Kevin Dado, Totino Grace
Other athletes receiving votes: Myles Fleming, Henry Sibley; Joseph Minor, Minneapolis Washburn; Grant Price, Wayzata

John Millea
12h ago
Great stuff in the mail: 2016 Grand Rapids football Victory Day t-shirt. Thanks @RapidsFB !!

John Millea
15h ago
"Education-based high school athletics are an extension of the classroom."


John Millea
2d ago
Go debaters. twitter.com/MPRnews/status

John Millea
2d ago
Final score in boys soccer: South St. Paul 2, St
Croix Lutheran 1. @MSHSLscores

John Millea
2d ago
Goal by Rigoberto Mendoza gives South St. Paul a 2-1 second-half lead over St. Croix Lutheran in boys soccer. @MSHSLscores

John Millea
2d ago
Halftime in boys soccer: St. Croix Lutheran 1, South St. Paul 1. Goals by SCL's Micah Schultz and SSP's Sam Lehman. @MSHSLscores

John Millea
2d ago
South St. Paul free kick blocked by St. Croix Lutheran. @ Ettinger Field instagram.com/p/BK1ge3yBOw1/

John Millea
2d ago
Can you find the soccer ball? @ South Saint Paul Senior High School instagram.com/p/BK1eeL6hH-g/

John Millea
2d ago
Agreed. twitter.com/Bauer129/statu

John Millea
2d ago
It's a great day in South St. Paul! Packers hosting St. Croix Lutheran in boys soccer to kick off Homecoming week.


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