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Praise Reports --- 2023-2024, Vol. II

Posted: Thursday, January 25, 2024 - 3:26 PM

Praise Report

In addition to working contests, League Officials have the opportunity to submit positive reports from their assignments. These reports were received by the League over the past month. 

School: Carlton-Wrenshall

Date: Oct. 24, 2023

Activity: Football

Report: The crew wants to commend the football staff and the players for such an impressive display of sportsmanship, character and heart as they faced a tall task and some difficult circumstances in their game against Ogilvie. The Raptors trailed 67-0 at half, both quarterbacks went out with injuries (one taken by ambulance late in the third quarter) and a final score of 95-0. I have yet to see a team and its coaches with such a positive attitude throughout the entire game, in any situation, but especially while facing some pretty good adversity. The head coach and his assistant were encouraging and excellent role models throughout the game! I thanked them for being excellent. It was a breath of fresh air.

Officials: Chris Hyde, Brad Weber, Mike Mittelstaedt, David Wisnieski, David Yantes


School: Forest Lake

Date: Nov. 9, 2023

Activity: Football

Report: The hospitality shown by Forest Lake AD Mike Hennen during the Class AA quarterfinals was absolutely top notch. The hospitality began before we arrived on site with updated information for parking, facilities, and logistics. When we arrived, there were parking spaces blocked off for us right by the main gate to the football stadium. Mike was hauling hot water on a golf cart to the concession stands for hot chocolate on a very chilly evening. He offered to haul our equipment bags across the field to the officials’ locker room on the cart. Before making the trek, he had us grab a candy bar and sports drink of our choice out of the concession stand. At halftime, he was there with the key to get us in well before we arrived and came with a pizza, chicken sandwiches, and the hottest hot chocolate we've had all year! Once the game wrapped up and we finished changing, he once again came over with the golf cart and hauled the bags back to our vehicles and saw us out of the stadium and on our way. On top of Mr. Hennen's hospitality, the press box crew, chain gang, and facilities crew at Forest Lake were on top of everything. It was a phenomenal experience thanks in no small part to the efforts of an excellent staff.

Officials: Aaron Donais, Paul McDonald, Kyle Lamppa, Davis Lamppa, Michael Pope


School: Cristo Rey Jesuit

Date: Dec. 1, 2023

Activity: Girls Basketball

Report: The girls game between Cristo Rey and visiting Eagle Ridge went extremely well. The facility was great, all participants were friendly and the evening was just excellent. The shot clock operator was curious, and ultimately, did a great job. Both coaches worked hard to be positive influences. Coach Stanley Clay was a great host.

Officials: Ben Lampron, Mike Lovas


Schools: Mayer Lutheran and Tri City United

Date: Dec. 5, 2023

Activity: Girls Basketball

Report: These two teams displayed excellent sportsmanship. There was not one incident where a player questioned a call or displayed poor body language. They just played and accepted the calls of the officials. Kudos to the coaches and athletes.

Officials: Thomas Henke, Brenda Holmgren, Ryan Clancey


School: Willmar

Date: Dec. 12, 2023

Activity: Boys Basketball

Report: We were a crew for the varsity contest between Brainerd and Willmar. The score was a bit of a blowout by halftime. When we were waiting in the hallway to take the floor for the second half, a Willmar fan came up to us (the team that was behind) and told us how great of a job we were doing, and how much he appreciated our hard work. He also said many more positive things. We were really impressed with such great sportsmanship, and the Willmar fans deserve a shout-out for this. It would have been easy for the fans to be frustrated after driving to see their team play, only to see a blowout like that. Those fans were great!

Officials: Mark Gulseth, Terry Eiter, Tim Birkeland


School: Brandon-Evansville

Date: Dec. 12, 2023

Activity: Girls Basketball

Report: The officiating crew was treated so well by Dan Johnson, the site manager, scorers’ table, fans, coaches and players. They are always ready for us, welcoming, professional and very friendly, and puts our crew at ease getting settled. Great atmosphere and energy and we were treated kindly and respectfully all night. After the game, comments from coaches, players, fans and students were positive. Dan brought us refreshments, paperwork and offered concessions, and also supplied us with our game checks, which was a first by the AD and the school. This was unexpected and an outstanding effort. It was greatly appreciated by our crew. After leaving the dressing room, a friendly student offered us a free hot dog for the drive home.

Officials: Rod Helling, Sanorra Mattice, Bill Mills


School: Dassel-Cokato

Date: Dec. 12, 2023

Activity: Girls Basketball

Report: Dassel-Cokato head coach Rob Walters displayed great sportsmanship the entire game. He asked clear and concise questions regarding calls made in the contest, accepted them, then moved on with the game. He also reinforced our calls with his players when they seemed to not believe we made the right calls. Coach Walters also complimented the crew at the end of the game and said we did a good job. That's not something we hear very often from coaches.

Officials: Chris Drennan, Dustin Decker, Kevin Elton

School: Redwood Valley

Date: Dec. 14, 2023

Activity: Boys Basketball

Report: The New London-Spicer junior varsity team has a participant with a cognitive handicap. He entered the game with two minutes remaining in regulation. Members of the Redwood Valley team displayed great sportsmanship in letting, and actually helping, the participant to score three baskets. They did not defend him so that he could attempt open shots. They even got offensive rebounds and passed it to the New London-Spicer player so that he could continue shooting until he made a basket. It was such a fun moment for everyone in the gym. The crew wants to make sure the Redwood Valley team was recognized for this display of sportsmanship.

Officials: Wade Powers, Greg Snow, Rodney Hanson


School: Lester Prairie

Date: Dec. 21, 2023

Activity: Boys Basketball

Report: Lester Prairie head boys basketball coach Andrew Dahl set the bar high for head coaches in the State of Minnesota. Coach Dahl was patient, positive and a leader by example of what sportsmanship and true leadership looks like when met with adversity. In a closely contested game, Coach Dahl exemplified the same positive attitude and enthusiasm throughout. As officials, we tend to see coaches change their approach to us and the way they communicate depending on the score and the time of the game. This was not the case for Coach Dahl, and he is someone who other coaches and the young men he is leading can look to as a great example of how to carry themselves when adversity is occurring. It was a great pleasure for our crew to work for Coach Dahl.

Officials: Blaine Turnbull, Ryan Freeberg, Dave Shoemaker


School: Moorhead

Date: Dec. 27, 2023

Activity: Girls Basketball

Report: Our crew was able witness a decommissioning ceremony at Moorhead High School to its old gym. The community of Moorhead did an outstanding job giving tribute to the former coaches, players and members of the community. The gym was full and you could feel the pride that they had for their old gym, as well as the excitement for the new gym space. The atmosphere was filled with music by the pep band which played at both games and cheerleaders that kept the crowd engaged. Congratulations to Moorhead High School and the community for a job well done and best of luck with your new school.

Officials: John Wold, Ivan Hirst, Craig Samuelson


Schools: Lakeville North and Farmington

Date: Jan. 2, 2024

Activity: Boys Basketball

Report: It was the first day back from the holiday break and an incredible matchup to start the new calendar year with No. 10 Farmington visiting No. 4 Lakeville North. From the warm welcome of Lakeville North AD Mike Zweber and his staff to the energy and enthusiasm in the stands, it felt like a state tournament-level game. From the tip to the final horn, it was the type of game where each possession meant something important. In the pregame meeting, the captains were congratulated for being selected the leaders of their respective teams. While it is an honor, it is also a great responsibility to serve as a captain. The crew reminded them that sportsmanship was a top priority this night and in every game. Those leaders did a terrific job to keep sportsmanship at a high level. Big calls were made early to set the officiating tone and that paved the way for high levels of play and sportsmanship from each bench. It was one of those rewarding assignments that had you leaving a school feeling like you had given the teams a gold medal-level effort. A huge note of thanks from this crew to the management team at Lakeville North and each coaching staff.  

Officials: Tim Leighton, Tyler Vrieze, Ryan Overlie


School: Cromwell-Wright

Date: Jan. 2, 2024

Activity: Boys Basketball

Report: The head coaches from Cromwell-Wright (Bill Pocernich) and East Central (Darren Fogt) and their players demonstrated great sportsmanship and respect for the officials and our calls. This created a very positive experience for the players, coaches, officials and fans. We wanted to commend these programs for promoting the ideals that make high school sports a tremendous extension of the classroom!

Officials: Steven Knutson, Darren Sheldon, Tom O’Neill


School: Jordan

Date of event: Jan. 4, 2024

Activity: Girls Basketball

Report: The entire Jordan coaching staff and players were phenomenal to work for in their game at host Benilde-St. Margaret’s. They focused on playing and coaching hard and letting us do our jobs as officials. We had respectful dialogue throughout the contest and I felt that both sides were genuinely listening to one another.

After the contest, I had a wonderful conversation with one of the Jordan assistant coaches. He shared that they appreciate I do as an official and that it's wonderful for the players to see a young, female official doing what I do and hoped that I continue to officiate for many years to come. That comment meant so much to me and was just what I needed to hear, as there are many nights I'm not so sure why I officiate. This interaction was a great reminder of "my why" for officiating.

Officials: Maddy Helget, Pete Vrieze, Bryan Kemnetz

School: East Central

Date: Jan. 4, 2024

Activity: Boys Basketball

Report: When the shot clock did not work, the table crew did an outstanding job to compensate and coordinate with the officials to ensure the game would happen. Kudos to all of them and to the AD, who all went the extra mile in stepping out of comfort zones and doing excellent work.

Official: Kevin Spence, Joe Lakeberg

School: East Ridge

Date: Jan. 4, 2024

Activity: Gymnastics

Report: We officiated at the East Ridge gymnastics meet against Stillwater. I'd like to recognize the coaching staff of East Ridge. They ran an efficient meet, but even further, the head and assistant coaches have such a positive impact on the athletes. They always see the good in every routine their gymnast is doing and provide encouraging comments to keep the gymnasts motivated. Caroline Urgo loves what she does and it shows. I want to thank them for making the meet a wonderful experience, not only for the officials, but even more so, the athletes. Thank you to Sara, the AD, for her support as well. Keep up the awesome work! It is making a difference!

Officials: Jenni Smith, Allyson Hayes, Cari Haynes


School: Atwater-Cosmos-Grove City

Date: Jan. 5, 2024

Activity: Girls Basketball

Report: This is a shoutout to the ACGC girls basketball team, including the head coach. The level of sportsmanship, politeness, and courtesy of this team goes above and beyond the standards. In this game, the team displayed wonderful sportsmanship before, during, and after the game. From please and thank you’s, to handing we officials the ball, to helping the other team’s players up off the floor, to just generally enjoying the game of basketball with smiles on their faces. This is what the game of basketball is all about.

Officials: Eric Smith, Ritchie Voorhees, Brett Busskohl


School: Parkers Prairie

Date: Jan. 8, 2024

Activity: Girls Basketball

Report: We were greeted by Joyce and she welcomed the crew and informed us it was Officials Appreciation Week. If we needed anything, just let her know. The Parkers Prairie staff left us a letter thanking us for officiating. We also received cookies, water, and popcorn. The officials were recognized before the starting line-ups. The scoreboard operator and a person behind that operator complimented our team at halftime for working hard, communicating clearly, and calling a consistent game. The Parkers Prairie coaches did not complain about any calls. They were the most respectful group of coaches I have seen. Parkers Prairie should be proud of their community and staff for going above and beyond to represent their program with the utmost professionalism.

Officials: Nicholas Kuehl, Koby Thalmann, Eri VanErp


School: Red Wing

Date: Jan. 9, 2024

Activity: Boys Basketball

Report: Red Wing head coach Kurt Thompson was exemplary and professional in all facets of the game. His players and coaching staff demonstrated respect throughout the contest despite not being victorious. He asked less than three questions appropriately and he/his staff went out of their way after the game to express gratitude towards our officiating crew. Perhaps most impressive was when his players were called for a foul, instead of demonstratively disagreeing, they would quickly get with their coach and ask how they can improve for the next play. It was a stark contrast to the opposing team and coach who questioned numerous and unnecessary decisions throughout the contest. Coach Thompson has clearly taught his players the impact of hard work, respect and is a fine example of what all League coaches should aim to strive for.

Officials: Dan Kvitrud, John Mulder, Nick Litfin


School: St. Cloud Cathedral

Date: Jan. 9, 2024

Activity: Boys Basketball

Report: St. Cloud Cathedral Activities Director Emmett Keenan and his staff are great hosts for officials. An assignment there comes complete with pizza, a gift bag and a thank you card from the players. Thank you, St. Cloud Cathedral, for a lovely evening of basketball.

Officials: Nate Moeller, Dale Moeller, Alex Buysse


School: Goodhue

Date: Jan. 11, 2024

Activity: Wrestling

Report: Our crew were presented with a League “Thank A Ref” certificate signed by the head coach, activities director and the members of the Goodhue wrestling team. We also received a small bag of various mints and chocolates. We felt this was going above and beyond sportsmanship and we were honored to be recognized as officials.

Officials: Mike Woltman, Matt Stein


School: Faribault

Date: Jan. 11, 2024

Activity: Boys Basketball

Report: I would to send a note of thanks and appreciation to the entire coaching staff of the Faribault boys basketball team. I traveled from Maple Grove to officiate the junior varsity and varsity games against Rochester Century and had an outstanding experience. Upon arrival, I was greeted by the site host and our crew was attended to diligently and thoughtfully throughout the evening. It truly made me feel appreciated. What really stood out to me, however, was the class and sportsmanship displayed by Faribault head coach Eric Hildebrandt, his coaching staff and all his players. The varsity game was close at halftime, but the visiting team from Rochester Century began to pull away in the second half. There were a few calls that didn't go their way, but I never heard a word of disagreement from anyone. This, in my experience, is extremely rare. It made the entire experience enjoyable and reminded me why I enjoy officiating so much. It seemed to me, as I reflected on this experience during my 75-minute drive home that night, that the class and sportsmanship displayed by the Faribault coaching staff and team was a shining example for their fans as well. The entire atmosphere in the Faribault High School gym that night was fun, energetic, and refreshing.

Officials: Tom Phelps, Dennis Harris, Brent Himmerick


School: Eden Prairie

Date: Jan. 17, 2024

Activity: Boys Hockey

Report: We had a very good hockey game between Eden Prairie and Mahtomedi at the Stillwater Rec Center. It turns out I called five penalties on Eden Prairie and zero on Mahtomedi. I heard no complaining from the coaching staff or the players. This is clearly a learned behavior from the top down. I wish more programs put this type of emphasis on sportsmanship and respect.

Officials: Rick Nelson, Bill Danielson, Kody Koemptgen


School: Northfield

Date: Jan. 18, 2024

Activity: Girls Hockey

Report: In an intense game with Mankato East, all of the Northfield coaches were very well behaved and acted professionally. It was a pleasant experience and we commend them for their efforts.

Officials: Ryan Swafford, Glen Cansler, Braden Weyenberg


School: Browerville

Date: Jan. 22, 2024

Activity: Boys Basketball

Report: I'm not sure if you have ever heard AD Ribsy Petermeier's pregame speech as a Public Address Announcer encouraging and promoting people to become a registered MSHSL official, but it is absolutely incredible. He has been doing it for years and he says it before every volleyball and basketball game he announces. In my opinion, that message should be shared in EVERY gym, field, rink, etc. He does an outstanding job. Just wanted to give a shoutout of praise to Ribsy for that!

Officials: Jered Freudenberg, Fran Breiter, Matt Heier


School: Waconia

Date: Jan. 23, 2024

Activity: Girls Basketball

Report: The crew was very impressed with Waconia sophomore guard Audrey Brown. She was the loudest person in the bench mob and played an excellent game, outworking her much taller opponents and gathering many rebounds. She also politely handed the official the ball every time she had a chance, saying 'Thanks' more than once. A great player and a good person!

Officials: Kevin Spence, Tim Litfin, Nicholas Litfin


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