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Staff Reflection: Bob Madison

Posted: Wednesday, December 14, 2022 - 2:59 PM

MSHSL Bob Madison

Associate Director Bob Madison shares a reflection on the importance of connectedness between students through co-curricular activities and beyond.

With the Fall 2022 season of tournaments concluded, it was another reminder of how high school students continue to amaze by their performances.  The League’s state tournaments are a representation of what takes place all season on the fields and courts.  This fall did not disappoint. There were overtimes, one-score contests, game-ending plays to win championships, welcome home events and parades celebrating all that was accomplished.  What stood out even more than the competitions this fall, though, was how education-based athletics and activities connect our students to our schools and our schools to our communities. 

The examples of students being connected to their schools was on full display at this year’s Prep Bowl.  The semifinals and Prep Bowl games were ones to remember for the ages.  The unified, well-represented student sections, the parents and other adults dressed in their school colors, cheerleaders, dance teams, mascots and the general spectators who are there to reminisce of days gone by were among the many groups that watched and cheered. It was another reminder that football games involve more than the game itself. It is a weekly celebration of communities throughout Minnesota, and an opportunity for communities to connect generations with the current students attending the local school. We also hear that the football season is often a reflection or defines remainder of the school year. 

There was one experience during this year’s semifinals that stands out and was a personal highlight for me as the tournament director. 

It started with a conversation with Mike Manning, the Activities Director at Rosemount High School more than a week prior to the Irish’s semifinal game against Eden Prairie. In Mike’s final year as a long-time administrator, he asked if we could accommodate a group of Rosemount students who needed a less-crowded area to cheer on their favorite team and classmates. 

We agreed on an area that was available for them and I checked it off the list of things to be accomplished prior to the games beginning at U.S. Bank Stadium.  I was reminded of our conversation close to halftime of the Rosemount game.  Rosemount made a big play at the end of the field where this group of students were standing, and they caught my eye.

They had signs and were obviously having a great time.  They were especially fond of Rosemount sophomore football player Gavin Caswell.  Our game managers and one of our band hosts had conversations with Rosemount’s administrative team in attendance. They confirmed they were enjoying their experience and it was for most, if not all of them, their first time at U.S. Bank Stadium. We knew from our planning that this could be a difficult environment with their sensitivity to sound and other stimuli we experience at football games.  But, on this given night, they were thriving with their classmates.  We invited them to the field level for a picture with their school’s staff in attendance at halftime. They were the most appreciative group of individuals I experienced in our five days of football at U.S. Bank Stadium. The smiles on their faces and the faces of their parents and school staff said it all.

Not only did the students attend Rosemount's victory over Eden Prairie in the semifinals, but they were also in attendance on Friday, Dec. 2 when the Irish played Maple Grove in the Class AAAAAA Prep Bowl championship game. 

The group of students noted below in the picture are students who participate in a class at Rosemount High School called “Connect.”  I do not know the entire curriculum in which they participate in, but I believe the name of this class is appropriate.  It is an opportunity for students who need accommodations to connect with their classmates and education. 

We know from research how important connectedness is for all students. Students tell us that their experience and sense of belonging in high school leads to a more positive experience when they have adults and other students who truly care about them and connect them to something greater than them as an individual. 

The story of the Rosemount students is just one example of how special our state tournaments are.  We are in a time in our society where we often feel more divided than connected.  What our tournaments represent is hope for a more connected society.  When we can share experiences like our tournaments, it is symbolic of what communities can accomplish together. 

My wish during the seasons before us is that all students may experience a sense of connectedness in the high school they are attending. It is my belief that they need to find at least one activity outside of the school day to experience the full benefits of being connected. It is our activities directors, coaches, advisors and other caring adults who are paramount to making those opportunities available. Thank you to those adults for doing so.

Not only do our students have a better experience when they are connected, they will be our leaders in the success of our society. They will learn from the lessons they’ve experienced through education-based opportunities and use their acquired knowledge to make our communities and society better than its current state.

Like the group of students from Rosemount High School I had the opportunity to witness, may we find joy and the ability to connect with something greater than us as individuals. 

Rosemount FB fans 12.14.22

Rosemount students and staff reveled in cheering on the school's football team during the 2022 Minnesota State High School League's football semifinals on Friday, Nov. 18 at U.S. Bank Stadium. From left: Rico Garcia, Gabriela Garcia, Pete Roback, Remarius Kalicharan, Brad Chaffin, Shaelee Crandall, Brittany Minnick, Cameron Holland, April Luedtke.

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