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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 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.

Posted by Tim Leighton (tleighton@mshsl.org) - Updated 6/8/2015 4:46:50 PM

• The MSHSL’s Code of Sportsmanship:
Keep the rules.
Keep faith with your comrades
Keep your temper
Keep yourself fit
Keep a stout heart in defeat
Keep your pride under in victory
Keep a sound soul, a clean mind and a healthy body
• Membership in the MSHSL grows to 455 schools.
• A student general admission ticket to the boys basketball state tournament was 35 cents.
• Cost of a MSHSL Handbook was 10 cents.
• State quarterfinal basketball games were played at 3 p.m., 4 p.m., 8 p.m. and 9 p.m.
• The principals of the high schools in Minneapolis request re-admittance to play in the boys basketball state tournament in 1932. For years, the schools had opted not to play in the state tournament because of the board’s refusal for financial concessions for those schools.
• The debate state tournament brought in $60.50 in ticket sales. At the boys basketball state tournament, ticket sales generated $10,002.55.
• It was estimated that more than 350,000 were in attendance during the 1930 football season.
• Points awarded at the girls swimming state meet were: first place (five points); second (three points); third (two points), fourth (one point). Relays were eight points (first), six (second), four (third) and two (fourth).
• The 23rd annual track and field meet was held at the University of Minnesota.
• Minneapolis West won the boys track and field state championship. Duluth Central was runner up.
• Perham’s Fritz Hanson was a double champion in the 100- and 220-yard dashes. He was third in the broad jump.
• In another strong showing for Minneapolis West, Pat Sawyer won the golf state title while Bill Ward and Bob Andrews teamed to win the doubles state championship in tennis.

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

More of the Countdown to 100

Miles And Memories: The Best Of John’s Journal From 2014-15
Posted by John Millea(jmillea@mshsl.org)- Updated 6/24/2015 1:59:28 PM

Eleven and a half thousand miles. When I look back on the past year of John’s Journal stories, all those miles (11,543 to be exact) I drove on Minnesota roads while traveling to and from schools, games and other events are a big blur. The best memories, however, flow from what happened when I wasn’t behind the wheel. I visited small-town gyms and mega-school fields. I spent time in towns where the skyline consists of grain elevators and church steeples; I attended events where the office towers of downtown Minneapolis provided a backdrop. And everywhere I went, there was a new story to tell.

In what has become an annual tradition, I have looked through the past 12 months of John’s Journal stories and settled on my personal 10 favorites. I posted more than a hundred stories during the year, and my initial screening whittled that list to 26 candidates for the top 10. In other words, coming up with 10 was extremely difficult. But here they are…

NUMBER 10/ Jarvis Johnson Died Four Years Ago; You Should See Him Now (Dec. 12)

Jarvis was a member of four Class 3A basketball state championship teams at DeLaSalle. He collapsed at basketball practice as an eighth-grader and was clinically dead for between seven and 12 minutes. The story of how he came back to life is amazing, and the fact that he is one of the top athletes in Minnesota – with a surgically inserted defibrillator keeping watch on his heart -- adds another incredible layer to the story of a young man who is a walking miracle.

NUMBER 9/ Cymbals Of Excellence, Energy And Fun (Feb.19)

This was a story from the girls state hockey tournament, but the subject was someone off the ice: Anna Albitz, who played the cymbals in the Edina band. I wrote: Anna is a senior and one of six cymbals players in the band. She loves the cymbals because clanging those two big discs against each other and twirling them around while boogying is just too much fun.

“Anna is an amazing kid,” said Edina band director Andy Richter. “She is full of energy and life and she just exudes the epitome of a band student.”

NUMBER 8/ Same Nickname, Same Colors And Teacher vs. Student (March 17)

There was an intriguing matchup of coaches in the Class 3A girls state basketball tournament. Third-year Princeton coach Andy Fenske, 27, is a 2006 graduate of Marshall, where girls basketball coach Dan Westby was his physical education and health teacher in seventh and eighth grade. One of the hurdles for Fenske was what to call Westby, 55.

“No way can I ever call him Dan,” Fenske said with a laugh. “Maybe Mr. Westby, out of sheer respect.”

NUMBER 7/ End Of An Era As Fairmont Speech Coaches Bow Out (April 17)

The 2015 state speech tournament was the final one for Fairmont husband-and-wife coaches Cliff and Roxy Janke. Cliff coached speech, taught vocal music and directed school musicals for 31 years before retiring from teaching in 2014, and for 15 years Roxy was a Fairmont English teacher and director of school plays as well as speech coach. She retired when the 2014-15 school year ended.

Roxy said, “Whether they’re at the state tournament or not, they have acquired some skills and they have acquired confidence and they have come into their own. And there’s not a better gift as a teacher than to see them blossom.”

NUMBER 6/ 40 Years Of Optimism And Baseball In Pine Island (April 24)

Pine Island baseball coach Craig Anderson has won more than 500 games during a 40-year coaching career. But wins and losses are secondary to Anderson’s main mission in coaching.

“We want to win but we have a bigger message,” he said. “And that’s, ‘Hey, come play hard, represent your community and your family with dignity.’ And if you do those things, then it’s a win no matter how the result comes out.”

NUMBER 5/ She Dances To The Music (Even Though She Can’t Hear It) (Dec. 18)

Erin Barrett, a junior at Roseville High School, is deaf and a member of the Raiders’ varsity high kick dance team. How does she do it? Through a combination of visual cues, practice, experience and the assistance of a sign-language interpreter. It is not easy, even if Erin makes it look easy.

“Sometimes I feel like she can hear because she always gets it,” said coach Brittany Rehling. “It’s super amazing.”

NUMBER 4/ Nicollet: Football, Food And A Room With A View (Oct. 22)

Schmidts and George’s City Meats & Sausage Shop are two of Nicollet’s best-known businesses, with jerky, beef sticks, sausage, bacon, bratwurst and other delicacies being sold to locals as well as customers far and wide. Some of the Raiders players are employed at the meat shops, which leads us to something else Nicollet is famous for: football.

NUMBER 3/ Seeing Is Believing: The Amazing Courtney Durant (Feb. 21)

Courtney Durant, a senior gymnast and team captain at Cambridge-Isanti, sees about 20 percent of what others see. She has ocular albinism, meaning her retinas are whiter than normal and cause white spots in her vision. She also has astigmatism and nystagmus. Just think about that: run at full speed, leap off a springboard, hit the vault mat with your hands, spin, twist, stick the landing … with 80 percent less vision than other gymnasts.

NUMBER 2/ On “Play For Nat” Night, Communities Come Together In Fun, Support (Sept. 15)

Natalie Hildebrandt, a sophomore volleyball player at Kenyon-Wanamingo, was given a clean bill of health after two years of a knock-down, drag-out fight with cancer. There was a celebration that will be remembered forever by those who packed the gym.

There were smiles. And a tailgate party. And a silent auction. And smiles. C-squad, JV and varsity volleyball between the Kenyon-Wanamingo Knights and the Cannon Falls Bombers. And smiles. Money was raised, including a “Dash for Cash” through the stands by head coaches Jen Nerision of K-W and Melissa Huseth of Cannon Falls, who are sisters. There was a tug-of-war between the football teams from the two schools. Oh, and did I mention the smiles?

“It’s overwhelming,” Natalie said.

NUMBER 1/ Victory Day In Grand Rapids: Football And Big Smiles (Oct. 16)

Eric Soderberg, starting senior quarterback for the Grand Rapids football team, was leading a group of QBs in drills at Noble Hall Field. The athletes each took a snap and navigated several cones while running with the ball. At the end of the drill, Soderberg and the other QBs gathered together in a tight huddle, each put one hand up in the middle of the pack and Soderberg said, “QBs on 3!” They all hollered, “One! Two! Three! QBs!!”

It was absolute magic. These weren’t the other high school quarterbacks; these were cognitively and physically impaired children from Itasca County who had been invited to the Grand Rapids Thunderhawks’ first Victory Day event.

Sixteen kids – some in wheelchairs or walkers -- joined the football team and one young lady spent her morning with the cheerleaders, who performed routines and kept the enthusiasm high. Members of the Thunderhawks marching band provided the school song and other tunes, and longtime Thunderhawks public-address announcer Roy Tovionen provided play-by-play from his perch in the press box.

Coach Greg Spahn said, “It’s just so much fun to have our players see the impact they have and give back to some of these kids who aren’t able to experience football.”

Here’s how senior Levi How described the day: “I love it. If there’s one kid smiling today, it makes the whole day worth it.”

More of John's Journal

League News
MSHSL Behavior Expectations 
June Board Meeting Synposis 
June Exec & Elig Committee Agenda  
June Executive Committee Agenda 
June Board Agenda 
Eligibility Committee Meeting Agenda 
Mills Fleet Farm to Sponsor Clay Target 
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