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Jan. 21: Here's What's Happening

Posted: Thursday, January 21, 2021 - 11:06 AM

The 120th annual state debate tournament event went off without a hitch in a virtual format on Friday and Saturday, with debaters and judges connecting online and YouTube used to show some of the final rounds.

Our 2021 state champions are:

Lincoln-Douglas: Arush Iyer of Eagan. Iyer’s argument for states banning lethal autonomous weapons followed nine rounds of debate conducted over two days.

Policy: Gabe Chang-Deutsch and Clara Conry of Minneapolis South won a repeat championship). They argued against the United States government enacting criminal justice reform.

Public Forum: Joshua Enebo and Skylar Wang of Blake argued against the United States ending its surveillance of United States citizens and lawful permanent residents.

Congressional Debate: Alexandra Smith of East Ridge. Congressional is a mock legislative assembly competition where students draft bills (proposed laws) and resolutions (position statements). Their peers then debate the legislation and vote whether or not to pass it into law.

--Speaking of state, there are lots of questions about dates for winter state tournaments, mostly from people trying to plan for spring break. I have answered as many as possible with this message: Tournaments will happen but we just don’t have dates yet. I don’t want to send out dates and have those dates change after people make plans.

The McDonald Coaching Legacy

I posted a John’s Journal story this week about the first basketball season since the death of Bob McDonald, the legendary coach from Chisholm. I talked to Bob’s three sons who are high school coaches: Mike at Cambridge-Isanti, Tom in Ely and Joel in Hibbing.

It’s been emotional for Bob’s sons, grandkids and the entire extended family as the first basketball season without him in 88 years has begun. Since he retired in 2014 he often attended games in Hibbing (where he lived), with Joel coaching and Joel’s kids Abbey and Ayden playing. Abbey’s team went to state when she was a senior in 2019 and Ayden is now a junior. Joel talked to me about the emotions in not seeing his dad in the stands for the first game of the season, and he and Ayden had an emotional ride home after the game.

The McDonalds all wear suits and ties at games, as their dad did, and Mike said that was and is a testament to Bob.

Is everyone wearing masks like they’re supposed to?

For the most part, I think the answer is yes. But some teams are not doing enough, with masks not covering the mouth and nose as mandated by the Minnesota Department of Health. We urge administrators and coaches to make sure your teams are doing masks the right way. There have been photos posted on social media, as well as TV coverage, showing problems with how masks are worn. The last thing we want to see is the Department of Health shutting down sports because they see too many cases of masks not being worn properly.

Thank A Ref

Great Tweet from the Rochester Area Officials Association: “Shout out to young Hayley Dessner. She worked her first basketball game Monday night with MJ Wagenson. Way to go Hayley!” … including a photo of Hayley and MJ. MJ is one of the top officials in the state, working basketball, softball and football. Good luck and thank you to Hayley.

Another female, although not from Minnesota, who officiates football is the NFL’s Sarah Thomas, who will make history as the first woman to officiate in a Super Bowl. She will be the Down Judge at Super Bowl LV.


Congrats to Minnetonka baseball coach Paul Twenge, a 2021 inductee into the National High School Baseball Coaches Hall of Fame.

No. 1 in the rankings…

--Girls basketball: Minneota, Fergus Falls, Backer, Hopkins.

--Boys basketball: Nevis, Waseca, Minnehaha, Wayzata.

Grateful to have games back

I opened the winter season by watching a girls basketball game between St. Michael-Albertville and Wayzata, and then the Hibbing boys basketball team at Chisago Lakes. A lot is different: small crowds, no student sections, or bands, socially distanced benches. But the game is the same. As Wayzata coach Mike Schumacher told me, “Once the ball went up in the air and you look up in the stands and parents are cheering and kids are playing, it's high school basketball. In that respect, it was just really, really good to be back playing.”

Ain’t it the truth?

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John’s Journal: A New Official Makes Her Debut