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John’s Journal: Good News, Good Deeds Are Everywhere

Posted: Thursday, March 3, 2022 - 2:15 PM


In recent days, members of our MSHSL staff have received some wonderful emails from people who are grateful for experiencing positivity in high school activities and want to express their thanks. Here are a few examples…

I WANTED TO SEND everyone a positive note about an experience the crew had last night officiating a boys varsity game in Elk River. The atmosphere was great, the officiating crew was stellar and the competition was fabulous. This game was close throughout and ended up going to 3 OT’s, with Totino eventually winning 93-88.

The reason why this game was great to officiate:

·Coaches coached

·Players competed at a high level

·Fans cheered

·Officials officiated at a high level. It was a thrill to work with Kevin Swan and Brent Kuphal!

I felt good walking out of Elk River HS representing myself, the officiating community, MSHSL, Gopher State Officials, and the game of basketball through my passion for officiating. This is how it should feel every game!

I wanted to share some positivity during these difficult times.

Thank you.

I WANTED TO WRITE to you today to relay an act of unbelievable sportsmanship that I witnessed at the Section 2A boys section swimming tournament at Richfield Middle School.

The Mound Westonka boys varsity swim team and the Orono boys varsity swim team practice together but swim against each other at the section tournament. The 500 freestyle had just swam the first heat, with Stewart Royal swimming in lane 2. Stewart had just swam his best race of the season and got out of the pool. A Mound swimmer, my son Sean Dolder, an eighth-grader, was set to swim in the next heat of the 500. This is Sean’s first section tournament, and needless to say he was very nervous. Sean was to swim in lane 1.

Sean had set up another Mound Westonka swimmer to flip his counting cards to keep track of what lap he was on, as is customary. The Mound swimmer did not show up to turn the cards for Sean’s race, causing a delay in the meet and causing Sean and other swimmers from other teams to become more nervous prior to swimming. Stewart Royal, having never turned Sean’s cards before, jumped right out of the pool after his race, told Sean not to worry because he would do it, asked Sean his pacing time, ran down to the other end of the pool, knelt down and proceeded to help Sean swim his best race of the season, dropping over 14 seconds off his time. 

The 500 freestyle is the longest race in the boys high school swim races. For Stewart Royal, a ninth-grader at Orono High School, to jump out of the pool without a second thought after his race to help another swimmer on another team is what I consider above and beyond and one of the best moments I have witnessed in my many years of officiating a high school league sport.

I would like to commend Stewart and the Orono boys swim and dive team for outstanding sportsmanship.

Thank you.

GOOD AFTERNOON, JOHN. I would like to nominate the Totino-Grace dance team, the E'gals, for another great display of sportsmanship at our Section 2AA dance team tournament.

Every year this team sets the gold standard for support and great sportsmanship. Our team, the (Holy Angels) Starliners, has been back competing in this sport after a break during the 2019-2020 school year. As we slowly rebuild our program., Coach Gagnon and her team - including parents, coaches and athletes - have been very supportive and always take the time to congratulate us at every event where we are together.

At our recent section meet, our team was one of the last to perform and the entire E'Gals team was sitting in the bleachers behind our athletes, cheering them on every single second they were performing. The very first thing our athletes said as they walked back to the team room was "they were cheering for us!" and "they were so loud, telling us we can do it and to keep going!" 

We had our highest scores of our season at that meet and although we did not advance to state, I truly believe that the E'gals cheering squad was a huge part of our team's presentation and energy on the floor that afternoon that helped to elevate our score. We have a very small team and a very young team; but to have a team as successful and experienced as the E'gals having our back for our last performance of the season,was one of the most positive experiences our team has had this year.

--MSHSL media specialist John Millea has been the leading voice of Minnesota high school activities for decades. Follow him on Twitter @MSHSLjohn and listen to "Preps Today with John Millea” wherever you get podcasts. Contact John at jmillea@mshsl.org  


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