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The Blizzard of Westwood - An Oral History

posted Nov 27, 2020, 11:22 AM by Dan Whenesota   [ updated Nov 28, 2020, 7:43 AM ]

April, 1948.  John Wooden, a basketball coach at Indiana Teacher’s College, was a candidate for the head coach position of the University of Minnesota basketball team. He was also a candidate for the same job at the University of California – Los Angeles (UCLA).  Wooden and his wife Nellie were both from Indiana and she preferred to stay in the Midwest. The job at Minnesota seemed like a better fit.  But when Wooden was offered the job at Minnesota, there was a catch.  Athletic Director Frank McCormick asked Wooden if he would keep current head coach Dave MacMillan as an assistant, because MacMillan was still under contract.  Wooden wanted to bring his own assistants.  McCormick was unsure he could agree to that (and the salaries involved) without getting approval from University officials. The two agreed that McCormick would get permission and then call Wooden back at an agreed upon time. 

But McCormick didn’t call back by that time.  Thinking that Minnesota had changed their mind, Wooden agreed to take the job at UCLA.  When McCormick finally did call, Wooden told him he had already come to an agreement with UCLA, and couldn’t go back on his word.  By all accounts, Wooden was a man of great integrity.   

Minnesota then hired Osborne “Ozzie” Cowles as their next coach.  Cowles had coached Michigan to the conference championship the previous season.

John Wooden went on to become the greatest coach in the history of college basketball and built UCLA into a dynasty.  “The Wizard of Westwood” as he would come to be known, coached at UCLA for 28 years, compiling a 620-147 record. His teams won 10 National championships, the most of any coach in NCAA history. (Second place is currently occupied by Duke’s Mike Krzyzewski at 5).  Wooden coached players like Lew Alcindor (Kareem Abdul-Jabbar), Bill Walton and Gail Goodrich.

Ozzie Cowles coached at Minnesota for 11 seasons, compiling a 147-93 record, but never won a conference championship.  In the time that Wooden was at UCLA, Minnesota went though 5 different head coaches (Cowles, John Kundla, Bill Fitch, George Hanson, and Bill Musselman) ending that era with a scandal and an NCAA investigation into the basketball program that led to Musselman fleeing to take an ABA job with the San Diego Sails.  During those 28 seasons that Wooden was at UCLA, Minnesota won the conference championship only once, in 1972.  That was the same season they made their only NCAA tournament appearance of that era, winning a game against Marquette.  But that victory would be vacated due to the NCAA violations. 

Minnesota hiring Wooden could have changed the entire history and future of the basketball program.  So why didn’t McCormick return the phone call to Wooden?   The story, as legend goes, is that a snowstorm knocked down phone lines and prevented McCormick from getting the call through to Wooden.  As we all know, winters in Minnesota are tough.  Only the heartiest and truest Minnesotan’s can handle the below zero temperatures and snow.  We're very familiar with snowstorms canceling school, ruining Halloween or deflating our Dome (5 times!).

Aw shucks!  A snowstorm prevented the greatest basketball coach of all time from coming here and taking us to the promised land.  It’s so “Minnesota Sports”.  It’s just our luck.  Right? 

The problem is, “The Blizzard” part of the story isn’t true.  Let me rephrase that. It’s probably not true.  I can’t prove that it isn’t, but I also can’t prove that it is. 

Here’s what we can prove.

-Wooden was a candidate for the job at Minnesota.

-He accepted the job at UCLA on April 20, 1948. 

That’s it.

Fast forward to April 2019.  I had recently created the “Minnesota Sports Disappointment Calendar”.  Dan Barreiro began to use it on his show “Bumper to Bumper” on KFAN radio, and called it the “Calendar of Calamity”.  As it started to become a regular bit, listeners and friends started offering suggestions of events to add to the Calendar.  One day, a coworker suggested “The Blizzard” story about Minnesota missing out on Wooden.  I looked it up and found documentation on the interwebs.  A “Daily Bruin” article claiming that the day “The Blizzard” caused the missed phone call, was April 17th, 1948.

https://dailybruin.com/2015/02/25/remembering-john-woodens-legacy/

On the Calendar it went.  When April 17th came around, I sent the event to Barreiro.  At about 2:15 pm that day, I received a Twitter message from Barreiro asking me where I got the date (April 17) from, because he couldn’t corroborate it.  I was at work and couldn’t respond until I was done.  Barreiro’s show aired at 3pm.  Not only that, I couldn’t remember where I had found the date.  In my anxiety filled head, I thought, this could be the end of the “bit”.  Did I just give Barreiro the wrong date?  Will he ever trust me again?  As soon as work was done and I got home, I raced through my notes and found the Daily Bruin article with the date.  Whew!  Crisis averted right?  Not so fast.  Barreiro suggested on air that he couldn’t find any weather data to back up the snowstorm.  This sent me down a rabbit hole and taught me a very valuable lesson about sources. 

You’ve heard people say you can’t trust everything you read on the internet?  It's true.  This was the first of a few Calendar event dates I had gotten incorrect by using certain web pages.  That led me to begin using the newspapers site (Not an advertisement).  As I started to regularly incorporate newspaper clips in the daily calendar posting, I often thought back to April’s Wooden event and how it almost killed the project, so I began to dig into it further. 

The Daily Bruin article I originally cited said the missed phone call was on April 17, 1948.  A Saturday.  In Wooden’s book, “A game Plan for Life”, he says the missed call was on a Sunday (not a Saturday) AND said that “The Blizzard” was in the Twin Cities.  I researched Minneapolis weather data for a two-week period surrounding that weekend, there were no blizzards or snow storms. Temperatures that weekend were a low of 38 and a high of 72.  Temperatures that are definitely not conducive to snow, let alone a blizzard. 

In a 2010 Star Tribune article, Sid Hartman wrote that “The Blizzard” was in South Dakota and that McCormick had been traveling to visit a friend when the phone lines went down.   I researched the weather information in South Dakota newspapers during the same time period.  Again, no blizzards. 

I then tried to track down where the story originated.  As far as I can tell, the story first appears in print around the time that Wooden was planning to retire in 1975.  For the record, the newspapers site doesn’t have access to every newspaper in the country.  In other words, there may have been information in other newspapers that I don’t have access to, but that seems unlikely.  When you find articles about “The Blizzard” from that time, they all have the exact same story.  Almost word-for-word in some cases, as they probably all used the same wire story as a source.  Since then, the story has become canon and part of the Wooden legend.  Its been told and retold so many times, its just accepted as true.  When Wooden died in 2010, the story resurfaced and Sports Illustrated even did a famous photo showing the juxtaposition of Wooden in a UCLA warmup and what he would’ve looked like in a Minnesota Warmup. 

https://assets.si.com/images/john-wooden-what-if_0.jpg

If “The Blizzard” story isn’t true, why would someone make it up?  WARNING:  Speculation ahead.  If the story originated when Wooden was about to retire, it would make sense that media were digging back through his life attempting to document and celebrate his legendary career.  It’s likely that they came across the “almost” Minnesota story.  Maybe “The Blizzard” was conjured up to protect Minnesota or someone from the University from looking bad.  April snowstorms in Minnesota are not uncommon.  What better excuse than Minnesota weather to blame it on?  Seems like an easy target and prevents anyone from being responsible for one of the biggest HR disasters in Minnesota sports history.

It's unlikely we'll ever know the truth because there isn’t anyone we can ask about it.  Sid Hartman was the only person who was around and involved in Minnesota athletics at the time.  Unfortunately, he recently passed away in October at the age of 100, after a long and legendary career covering Minnesota sports. 

In addition to the mystery of the “The Blizzard”, the Wooden story is also one of the greatest “what ifs” in Minnesota sports.  There’s no way of knowing what would have happened had Wooden come to Minnesota.  We can’t assume Minnesota would’ve been as successful as UCLA was.  Let’s be honest, it's Minnesota sports.  One of my snarkier coworkers joked, “That snowstorm is probably the best thing to ever happen to John Wooden.”  

In case you were wondering if Ozzie Cowles, (the guy Minnesota hired after the Wooden miss), kept Dave MacMillan as an assistant coach (like Wooden was asked to do)?   He didn’t.  MacMillan retired in June of 1948 (a few months after “The Blizzard”) and was “given a full-time appointment at the University in another capacity.”

Another position in the organization - so “Minnesota sports”.

 

Sources

Star Tribune

Daily Bruin

LA Times

Sports Illustrated

Newspapers.com

College Basketball Reference

A Letter to Dave St. Peter and the Minnesota Twins

posted Aug 8, 2020, 10:07 AM by Dan Whenesota   [ updated Aug 8, 2020, 7:15 PM ]

Dear Mr. St. Peter and the Minnesota Twins Baseball Club,

Although we are saddened that fans can’t attend Twins games in person, we understand the situation and the use of “cut-outs” to make the games as real as possible.  Some teams are starting to be creative and have fun with the cut outs.  On Thursday night, the Kansas City Royals had a cut-out of the character ‘Bernie Lomax’ from the 1989 movie “Weekend at Bernies” behind home plate.  It was a wonderful tribute to pay homage to Twins alumni in the first homestand, but maybe it would be fun to show the league that Minnesota can also enjoy some levity during these difficult times.  

We’d like to offer up some suggestions* for cut-outs that not only Twins fans would enjoy, but that baseball  fans around the country might find entertaining as well.  Having said that, here at WHENESOTA, we often find ways to laugh at ourselves.  Some of these suggestions might reflect that sense of humor.  Showing the world that you can laugh at yourself would not only create a buzz and be a potential PR win, but could possibly improve the collective health of Minnesotans by giving them something to smile about.  We could all use a laugh right now. 

If anything, maybe this list will trigger some ideas for your PR people.

*These suggestions were put together by myself and other social media users (credited in parentheses)

Baseball
Minneapolis Millerettes: Annabelle Lee, Lorraine Borg
Billy Martin sitting with Hubert Humphrey and Dave Boswell
Phil Cuzzi sitting by the left field line/foul pole
Hrbek and Ron Gant by first base (@cherryboy1988)
Ron Davis and Joe Niekro sitting near the Bull Pen
Wally the Beerman (@cherryboy1988)
Chuck Knoblauch in right field (@Plouffe24Fan)
Rally Squirrel (@OutsiderTwins)
Butch Wynegar (@wildroadtripper)
Hrbek and Brunansky dressed as the Bruise Brothers (Plouffe24Fan)
Kirby the Kestral perched somewhere high (Plouffe24Fan)
Jim Thome dressed as Paul Bunyan (Plouffe24Fan)
A smiling Tom Kelly (@FrPaulKammen)
Tom Kelly with a cigar
The entire 2002 Twins roster sitting with the Rally Monkey (@EALEsDad)
Bill Smith sitting with Tsuyoshi Nishioka (@Kennnyll)
Terry Ryan sitting with David Ortiz
Dan Gladden sitting with Steve Lombardozzi (@Jeannie0753 and @slab12)

Hockey
Norm Green sitting all by himself somewhere.  (@boringbuildr and @MurphfromMidway)
Jim Bowers and Al Shaver (@Maiers_luke)
The Carlson Brothers in Fighting Saints Jerseys
Dino Ciccarelli (@Wardminny10 and @realizzypresley)
Brian Lawton (@cherryboy1988)
Lou Nanne sitting with a bunch of northern Minnesota hockey players (@WilliamSpelts)

Football
Bruce Smith  and Bronko Nagurski - Gophers
Christian and Sam Ponder
Les Steckel sitting next to Greg Coleman in military fatigues
Brett Favre sitting with Greg Lewis
Stefon Diggs and Case Keenum
Blair Walsh and Gary Anderson sitting in the upper corner of the stadium just left of the foul pole (@MOKOV62 & @JunkWaxTwins) and Daniel Carlson in the upper right.
Keith Millard with some Hardees – advertising opportunity (@binger1rules)
Tommy Kramer and Ahmad Rashad (@cherryboy1988)
Randal Cunningham (@MOKOV62)
Boo Boo Rouse (@theunrealjonny5)
Fran Foley (@theunrealjonny5)
Troy Williamson sitting with Erasmus James (@SKOL_Vikes_1473)
Nate Wright and Drew Pearson (@johnwil08956134)

Basketball
George Mikan, John Kundla
Bud Grant in a Lakers uniform
Ricky Rubio and Jonny Flynn
Dennis Rodman sitting near an actual TV Camera person
Glen Taylor sitting with Kevin Garnett (@cherryboy1988)
Cheryl Reeve, Seimone Augustus, Lindsay Whalen, Maya Moore and other Lynx players sitting with their 4 trophies
Christian Laettner and JR Rider (@sdrahota)
Ndudi Ebi (@theunrealjonny5)
David Kahn (@theunrealjonny5)
Fran ‘Red Faced’ McCaffery
Garnett sitting with Marbury (@Jeannie0753)

Wrestling
Greg Gagne and Bobby Heenan (@_2244)
An entire section of AWA cutouts (@_2244)
Jessie Ventura, Mean Gene Okerlund, The Crusher, Mad Dog Vachon and Baron Von Raschke (@thetuse)
Nick Bockwinkel (@theunrealjonny5)
Verne Gagne, Curt Hennig, Brian Pillman (@thetuse)

Media
Sid Hartman sitting with some ‘close personal friends’ like George Steinbrenner or Bob Knight (@jmkind24 and @thetuse)
Dark Star (@KellyBEaton)
The Cabal -Dan Barreiro, Patrick Reusse and Bob Sansevere sitting with Denny Green
Joe Buck sitting with Randy Moss (@cherryboy1988)
Bob Uecker in the worst seat in the stadium (@RealIzzyPresley)

Other Minnesota related
Mary Tyler Moore, Lou Grant and Ted Baxter (@TwinsWild16, @BigPdaddy and @Clintster76)
Marge Gunderson and Jerry Lundegaard from the movie “Fargo” (@cherryboy1988)
John Gustafson and Max Goldman from “Grumpy Old Men” (@randallevee)
Prince Rogers Nelson (@stades44)
Paul Bunyan and Babe the Blue Ox (@1_nra and @bigPdaddy)
Hayden Fox, Dauber Dybinski and Luther Van Dam from the TV show “Coach” (@Clintster76 and @cwillaert)
The Andrews Sisters (Clintster76)
Billy Heywood from the movie "Little Big League" (@Maiers_luke)

The Minnesota Sports Infamy Tournament

posted Mar 16, 2020, 11:24 AM by Dan Whenesota   [ updated Apr 7, 2020, 10:58 AM ]

                Last year I thought about doing an NCAA bracket style showdown between all the events on the Calendar.  However, the idea came too late in March and I didn’t have enough time to plan it all out.  With my book deadline fast approaching I didn’t think I would have time to do it this year either, but so much has changed in the past week.  The NCAA cancelled this year’s tourney, and yesterday the Governor closed schools because we’re all facing a different kind of “March Madness”.   Many of us are stuck at home, and let’s face it, we need a laugh.  Therefore, I thought it might be fun to revive the idea and give it a try.

                I present to you the Minnesota Sports Infamy Tournament (#MnSIT).  68 events that have been deemed the most infamous, scandalous, embarrassing, and face palming in Minnesota Sports History.  These events will face off in a showdown that mirrors what would have been the schedule for the NCAA basketball tournament.  The 68 events were chosen by my dedicated but limited and quarantined writing staff (Me and my teacher co-workers Matt and Kyle).  The Selection Committee practiced safe social distancing and submitted their rankings via email.  Those rankings were compiled and the seedings have been placed in the brackets/match-ups below.  PLEASE DO (yes DO) complain in the comments if you feel certain ‘bubble’ events that you are passionate about, didn’t make the cut.  The more social interaction the better. Please use the hashtag #MnSIT

DISCLAIMER: the committee has always ruled out certain events that are deemed distasteful, or involve abuse of any kind.  Its not ok to laugh about those events.  There are a few in our history (we all know which ones), and they will never be a part of the WHENESOTA project. 

                The 'First Four' will be play-in match-ups held on March 17 & 18 and the first round of the tournament will be held on Thursday March 19, & Friday March 20.  The match-ups will also be held in accordance with MDH and CDC Social Distancing policies, with no fans in attendance.  A poll will be placed on Twitter for each match up that will last 24 hours deciding which event advances. 

Entire schedule
Play in match-ups: March 17 & 18
Round of 64: March 19 & 20
Round of 32: March 21 & 22
Sweet 16: March 26 & 27
Elite 8: March 28 & 29
Final 4: Saturday April 4th - I was looking forward to The Eagles concert that day :-( 
Championship: Monday April 6th

Remember this is for fun, and done with a big heart and good intentions.  My goal is to make you laugh or smile and help us all get through this unsettling time with some sanity.  Sports are so far away from what’s truly important.  I’m hoping that this crisis will unite us again, much like 9/11 did, even if just for a little while.  Survive and advance.

Maybe by the time we have crowned the champion of the MnSIT the crisis will have died down and we can return to some level of normalcy.  As self-appointed Commissioner of Minnesota Sports Infamy, I declare this tournament OPEN!   


 Printable Bracket      Excel Version


The first 4
#16 Moss Catering outburst
#16 Mike Legg Puck life

#16 Dallas Stars exhibition game
#16 Garnett-Taylor don’t know Sh*t

#11 Pohlad’s Letter of Intent to sell
#11 Dino Ciccarelli’s Pants

#11 Marv/Harv Sell Wolves to N.O.
#11 Twins release David Ortiz


Mike Lynn Region

#1 Herschel Walker Trade
#16 Moss Catering/Mike Legg puck Lift

#8 Tim Brewster hired
#9 Cardinals 4th down Noooooo!

#5 Burseys post game rant
#12 Disco Darrin drafted

#4 Joe Niekro Sandpaper
#13 JR Rider goes after referee

#6 Gophers leave WCHA
#11 Pohlad LOI/Ciccarelli Pants

#3 Favre throws across the body for int
#14 Boston Brawl Bruins/North Stars

#7 Steve Young’s 49 yard Run
#10 Nebraska 84-13

#2  Gopher Academic scandal
#15 Dick Allen’s 2 inside park HR’s off Blyleven


Fred Smoot Region
#1  Take a Knee
#16  Blyleven Middle Finger

#8  Jim Marshall runs wrong way
#9 Sprewell family to feed

#5 Rubio + Flynn over Curry
#12 Randy Moss Moon

#4  Love Boat
#13  Moss squirts ref

#6 Cassell’s big balls dance
#11 Fans tear apart Met Stadium

#3 Pohlad Admits volunteering contraction
#14 Bradford/Barnett Stripsack Keenum

#7 Notre Dame Clause
#10 Nishioka returns salary in shame

#2 Bounty Gate
#15 Gophers lose to Holy Cross


Norm Green Region
#1 North Stars Move
#16  Randy Moss-Play when I want to play

#8 41-donut
#9 Bi lateral Leg Weakness

#5 Les Steckel hired
#12 Dimitrius Underwood walks out of practice

#4 John Wooden Snowstorm
#13 Phil Cuzzies blown call on Mauer Double

#6 Ndudi Ebi drafted
#11 Herb Brooks not return North Stars Coach

#3 Drew Pearson Pushoff   
#14 Staubach shows Norm around Dallas

#7 Gopher football move to Dome
#10 Gophers OSU Barn Brawl

#2 12 Men in the huddle
#15 Griffith-never want 1st round again


Glen Taylor Region
#1 Gary Anderson missed FG
#16 Stars Return/Garnett Taylor

#8 Ciccarelli swing stick - assault
#9 Garnett Traded-not appreciated

#5 Whizzinator
#12 Jimmy Butler crashes practice

#4 Gophers blow lead Michigan
#13 Calvin Griffith racist remarks

#6 Darrin Nelson dropped pass
#11 Marv & Harv/Ortiz

#3 Illegal Joe Smith deal
#14 Killebrew hurt in All Star game

#7 Vikings Draft card to podium
#10 Lakers Move

#2 Blair Walsh missed kick
#15 Gophers insight bowl meltdown

 

The Minnesota Professional Sports “All-Hair” Team.

posted Mar 8, 2020, 6:23 PM by Dan Whenesota   [ updated Mar 8, 2020, 7:18 PM ]

The Minnesota Professional Sports “All-Hair” Team.

Last year, John King, the creator of the extremely popular State Tournament “All Hockey Hair Team” videos, announced he would retire and the videos would be no more.  Last night a 2020 video appeared. 


Much like Brett Favre was talked out of retirement by the 3 wisemen who flew to Hattiesburg to bring him back, King was talked out of retirement by Great Clips who donated money to the Hendrickson Foundation, a charity that provides opportunities for disabled individuals to play hockey.  

This got me thinking.  If Minnesota pro sports had an “All-Hair” team, who would be on the roster?  So I made a list.  To be clear, I’m just riffing off John King’s bit.  This is a tip of the cap to him, @GameOnMinnesota and what he’s doing with the Hendrickson Foundation.  So full credit to them and long live the All Hockey Hair Team!

Let's have some fun.

Football is king, so we're starting with the purple. My first thoughts were Jared Allen's Mullet Militia or Brian Robison with his hunter’s mane.  But my choice is Randy Moss. ‘Fro’ rhymes with Flow.
https://www.newspapers.com/clip/46373283/ via @_newspapers
https://www.newspapers.com/clip/46340899/ via @_newspapers


Speaking of kings, former Timberwolf Jimmy Butler literally wore a crown.  But our choice is Alexey Shved.  Shveded lettuce.
https://www.newspapers.com/clip/46373557/ via @_newspapers
https://www.newspapers.com/clip/46341180/ via @_newspapers



New Twins slugger Josh Donaldson seems to have a perfectly coifed ‘do’ and we love Sergio Romo’s free flowing attitude and beard, but were going with Scott Erickson's mullet here.  
https://www.newspapers.com/clip/46374077/ via @_newspapers
https://www.newspapers.com/clip/46341475/ via @_newspapers



I might be biased with my soccer choice.  I’ve always been a huge fan of Tino Lettieri.  Plus, he’s married to Minnesota hockey royalty and his son played for the #Gophers.
https://www.newspapers.com/clip/46341894/ via @_newspapers



Saving the best for last: Pro Hockey Hair.  At first, the North Stars Willi Plett popped into my head.  But then another name surfaced.  The Fighting Saints Bill Goldthorpe.
https://www.newspapers.com/clip/46373166/ via @_newspapers
https://www.newspapers.com/clip/46342165/ via @_newspapers



As always with my blogs and lists, feel free to agree, disagree or submit other nominations.  

You can learn more about the Hendrickson Foundation and the great work they do here:
https://www.hendricksonfoundation.com/

All photos for this article were legally clipped from Newspapers.com subscription or have no copyright restrictions.

They like us, they really like us?

posted Nov 2, 2019, 11:52 AM by Dan Whenesota   [ updated Nov 2, 2019, 12:30 PM ]




I haven’t blogged in a while.  But I have too many thoughts in my head about Gameday not coming that I had to get them down. 

#1 LSU vs #2 Bama.  Is it a better matchup?  You bet.  But the Gameday crew has made it VERY clear that this year they want to go to schools they’ve never been to.  Like going to Brookings last weekend.  Alabama/LSU is old hat for them.  I don’t have the numbers in front of me, but I bet they’ve done those locations AND that matchup more than a few times. 

Speaking of Brookings, I was there.  Thanks to Dan Svobodny who took a great photo of my sign and Gopher hole for tweeting another one out.   The point is that I’ve been to 3 Gamedays now.  While you are there, they tell you to get loud and crazy from 9:30-11 because that’s when their ratings are highest. Most watchers tune in right as they get closer to the 11 am game. 

Which is also why the 11 am game decision was the death nail for Gameday coming to Dinkytown.  The last thing they want is half their crowd leaving the show to get into the stadium, right when their ratings are peaking. 

So why was the 11 am game chosen?  Pj Fleck was on Pat McAfee’s show this week and stated very clearly that the gophers DID NOT turn down a night game.  So who did?  Was it Penn State?  And what’s wrong with 2:30? Why couldn’t that game be played at 2:30 and the LSU/BAMA game go at night?  The point I’m trying to make is that whomever decided the Gopher/Penn State game was at 11 am killed the chances of Gameday coming to Dinkytown.  If it was ABC, that’s out of our hands.  But if we had a choice between 11 and 2:30 and we chose 11, we did it to ourselves. And if we did it to ourselves, that makes it so much more deserving of being on the Calendar.

One of the other things I’ve heard is that maybe they’ll still come for the Wisconsin game.  I hope that’s true, but I just don’t see them coming when its that cold.  As a matter of fact that’s another reason I’ve heard they wont come next weekend is because of the cold.  If the cold is the reason they wont come on November 9, they sure as heck aren’t going to come on November 30.

There was a moment in Brookings when Kirk Herbstriet was on the back stage doing a segment which led into a video on the main stage.  Everyone turned to watch the video monitor on the main stage.  I didn’t.  I stayed facing Herbstreit.  I was about 15 feet from him.  I stuck my head out and waved my sign at him.  It caught his eye.  He looked directly at me, gave me a nod, a wink and a thumbs up.  I felt like he and I had a moment and that was his way of saying Gameday was coming.  There’s that old Sally Field Oscar speech where she says, “You like me, you really like me.”  But I feel like today gopher football fans feel the opposite of that.  Maybe they will still come. But I doubt it. 

There’s always next year too. 

I’m really starting to hate that phrase. 

Minnesota Sports Doomsday Supply List

posted Jul 8, 2019, 6:52 AM by Dan Whenesota   [ updated Jul 8, 2019, 8:53 PM ]


When the Vikings lost to the Saints in 2010, it hit me hard.  I was in a funk for weeks.  I was sick to my stomach.  I didn’t eat much.  I didn’t want to work.  I felt like I had gotten dumped by the love of my life.  That’s how much it affected me.  I let myself ‘believe’, and the worst possible outcome occurred.   It was basically a Minnesota sports ‘doomsday’. 

As Minnesota sports fans, we’ve experienced more than our fair share of ‘doomsday’ moments like that.  We’ve been in that dark place too many times.  Because of that, some of us (the more clairvoyant ones) can sense an impending disaster.   Right now, my Spidey senses are tingling uncontrollably.  The Twins are still leading the division, but have started to slip.  What seemed like an insurmountable 11.5 games lead a month ago is now down to 5.5 games.  Even the MNUFC soccer team is doing well.  As I write this, they have moved up to 4th in the Western Conference. 

Surely both teams must be on some collision course with disaster, right?  As always, Minnesotan’s hope for the best.  But after all the pain we’ve suffered, we instinctively prepare for the worst.  It’s just our nature. 

Ever heard of Doomsday ‘Preppers’?  These are people that build bunkers and stock up food, water, etc in order to survive a potential disaster of some sort.  There’s even a television show about it.  I thought it would be fun to ‘create’ a hypothetical doomsday shelter that had everything a Minnesota fan would need to survive after another major sports disaster.  If you’re going to be in a fetal position for a few weeks and want to hide from the world while you recover, what would you need to have in that bunker to get by?  What items will remind you of the happier times and bring you out of your funk? 

 

Structure

-There will be signs with arrows leading to the shelter that say “Rally Room this way”.

-The doorway is made out of goal posts.  It’s the only way in or out.  Therefore, you MUST go through them.  It’s impossible to miss.

-The floor is made of hardwood from the original Minneapolis Laker floor with throw rugs made from the Metrodome carpet. 

-The side walls would be lined with stadium seats.  On the left side would be seats from Metropolitan Stadium.  On the right would be seats from Met Center with Yellow, White, Green and Black, randomly placed.  Notice the North Stars seats are on the right, NOT the ‘left’. 

 

Walls/Decor

-The walls would be covered with fathead logos of all Minnesota sports teams.

-Framed page from the Vikings Playbook:  Gun buffalo right key left 7 heaven

-Photo of Jack Buck that is autographed with - “We will see you tomorrow night! – Jack Buck”

-1960 Gophers Football Pennant.

-Poster from Timberwolves 1989 inaugural season

-Photo of Bruce Smith doing Heisman pose at Memorial Stadium

-Panoramic photo of first game ever at TCF Bank with ticket stubs attached.

 

Food

-2 Week supply of Dome Dogs

-Wheaties (Twins on the box)

-Whatever beer Tommy Kramer drank

-Bottles of Randy Moss’ Inta Juice Smoothies

-Emergency Snickers bars hidden in shoes stashed in random spots around the room.

 

Clothing

-No Jackets, Bud Grant wouldn’t approve.  Gotta tough it out.  

-Stephon Diggs’ Gloves from the Miracle

-Brett Favre Jersey

-A Jersey from your High School hockey team because…Minnesota. 

-Braids and horns


Entertainment

-Video of:

-87 & 91 World Series – on VHS

-2004 NBA Western Conference Finals

-2003 NHL quarter final game 7 vs Avalanche

-The Minneapolis Miracle.  Not the whole game (cuz blown lead), Just the catch. On repeat.   

-Reading

-Bob Showers and Lou Nanne’s book about North Stars History

-Sid Hartman’s - Great Minnesota Sports Moments

-1962 Rose Bowl Program

 

Comfort/Companionship

-Homer Hankies

-Plush "Ozzie the parrot" (Think ‘Wilson’ from Castaway.  It gets lonely down there.)

 

Security

-Herb Brooks’ whistle

-The locks on the door are similar to those Lou Nanne would use when he locked the refs in their dressing room.   

-T-shirt cannon to ward off invaders trying to lure you out before you’re ready. 

 

Other Necessities

-Air Quality - Generator powered Furnace and AC unit from ‘Carrier’.  Why Carrier?  Kent Hrbek says so. 

-Restrooms - Urinal troughs.

-Exercise - Lynx logo basketball and hoop.  All the Lynx do is win.  They’re our motivation to get off the floor and get moving again.

 

Re-Emergence

When you think you’re ready to face life’s daily grind again, there will be talcum powder by the door.  Pour some in your hands, clap them together and walk through the cloud that forms.  On your way out you will climb steps that resemble those that led up to the entrances at Met Center. 


Other Ideas?

I think we're gonna be short on food and entertainment so I may need some help.  There are a lot of creative WHENESOTAN's out there, so feel free to contribute suggestions for those or anything else.  If you come up with a good idea, I will add it and credit you.  It can be general like the goal posts and seats, or something more personal.  Remember this is something you will be clinging to in your darkest hour, your ‘blankey’ if you will.  It has to be something that reminds you of the good times.  For example, I considered having Whiskey and oranges in the food category, but that would remind us of the Drew Pearson push off.  That just defeats the purpose.   Let’s build this together.  The ‘Peoples Bunker’.  Please retweet!!!

 

This space is reserved for ideas submitted by readers/followers. 

-Scott Studwell sweatshirt (Mom)

-1985 All Star game hat (Mom)

-Photo of herself kissing the Stanley Cup at 2004 NHL All Star Game (Mrs Whenesota)

-Ticket stubs from first Vikings game (Andar)

-Puckett and Hrbek Starting Lineup Figures-unopened (Coworker MC)

-Garnett/Marbury signed Basketball (@fightingmormons)

-Letter from Gophers backup QB Scott Eckers (@hstrytchr1984)

-Gopher team poster autographed by Lou Holtz. (Coworker PP)

I Cheated on Minnesota with Lenny Dykstra

posted Jul 2, 2019, 8:10 AM by Dan Whenesota   [ updated Jul 2, 2019, 4:44 PM ]


As you read this, please remember, I was born and raised Minnesotan.  I am 'one of us'.

I was born in '73 and am a child of the 80's.  Like many kids my age I collected baseball cards.  My dad and I belonged to a group called the TCSCC (Twin Cities Sports Collectors Club).  They would sponsor baseball card shows around the metro area and usually have some local sports personality there to sign autographs.  I remember meeting many Minnesota athletes, Puckett, Killebrew, Hrbek, etc.  Every once in a while, there were some non-Minnesota athletes there, like Hank Aaron, and Eddie Matthews.  I enjoyed learning about and collecting cards from other teams as well. 

At some point in my collecting, I got a hold of some Dwight Gooden and Darryl Strawberry cards.  That’s the first I can remember being interested in the Mets.  Yep…I said it.  In addition to being a Twins fan, I was a Mets fan. 

Before you revoke my “One of us’ card, hear me out. 

The Twins were not very good in the early 80’s.  As a matter of fact, one of the worst seasons they ever had was in 1982 when they went 60-102.  Therefore, appreciating another team from afar, wasn’t a stretch.  Remember too, that back then the AL and NL only played each other in the World series.  Inter-league games didn’t exist yet.  The odds that the Twins would play the Mets in a world series, wasn’t very likely.  The odds that the Twins would play anyone in a world series back then didn’t seem within the realm of possibility.  So, to me, the Mets were my ‘National League’ team.

And not only was I a Mets fan, I became a huge fan of a brash young outfielder named Lenny Dykstra.  I think I just loved how he played: Diving all over the place, reckless abandon.  He was my Pete Rose.  

So, in addition to my Twins memorabilia I have stored away, there is another set of stuff.  Lenny Dykstra stuff, and there's a lot of it.  I was a bit obsessed with him.

Fast forward to last night.  A tweet came across my timeline that said,  “What number did you wear in sports, and why?”

https://twitter.com/DonreyMarinas/status/1145893339683680257


I replied “ #4, Lenny Dykstra.”  Pretty much every jersey for every team I ever played for had that number on it.  My softball team jacket that I wear everyday has a #4 on it.  Any gear I received while coaching had #4 on it. 

Shortly after hitting send, I started to worry about posting it.   I was concerned that someone might be offended that it wasn’t #29 for Carew, or #3 for Killebrew (2 of my other favorite players BTW) 

Why should I feel ashamed and try to hide that I was a fan of more than one team as a kid?  On one hand it's very Minnesotan to feel guilty about something like that.  I worried that at first glance someone may view it as not very ‘on brand’ for WHENESOTA.  They may also view it as not being a true Minnesotan.

But is it? 

How many of you know someone who is a Minnesota sports fan, but they're also a closet fan of some other team?  Yes, there are many people out there who love ONLY Minnesota sports.  Bless their hearts.  But I bet most people reading this either know someone like me, or are like me themselves. 

And let me be clear.  I’m not talking about your Packer fan neighbor.  They're a squatter.  They just live here.  They ARE NOT ‘one of us’ and don’t care one bit about Minnesota sports.  Also, if you are a Minnesotan and root for Wisconsin, there’s something wrong with you.  Seek help immediately. 


Now that we’ve established that we all know somebody like this, lets talk about the reasons why. 

1.  The Wandering Eye

When your teams disappoint you as much as Minnesota teams have, it’s hard not to notice other teams that do well.  Seeking satisfaction elsewhere can be exciting, but remember, its only temporary and you're only avoiding the real issue.  You'll need to deal with it at some point.   I think that's what happened to me in the early 80s with the Mets. And luckily for me, the Twins won in 87 and 91. 

 

2.  Heart Transplant

You weren’t born here, but you're 'one of us' now.  You grew up liking another team from back home, but now because of job, family or life you live here.  And let’s be honest, once you’re here, it’s hard NOT to become Minnesotan.  Enjoying our culture and sports is infectious, because being Minnesotan is just …better.   Because of this, your heart now belongs to Minnesota and you root for our teams in addition to the team you grew up with.  

 

3.  It's all Relative

Maybe your parent was born elsewhere and therefore grew up a fan of another team.  Because they root for that team, so do you.  This is the case for one of my coworkers.  He was born and raised in Faribault, MN, but his Dad was from Nebraska.  In addition to being a Minnesota sports fan, he’s a huge Cornhusker fan.    

 

4.  Trade Bait

Did you stop being a Rod Carew fan when he was traded?  Did you root against him because he was with another team?  First, that’s not very Minnesota Nice.  Second, remember that he was traded because the Twins owner was cheap and racist.  I’m pretty sure Carew would have rather stayed here.  Have you noticed him hanging out in the Twins dugout lately?  Clearly, he loves Minnesota.   Another example:  I have a coworker who is a huge fan of Drew Butera.  She still follows him even though he plays elsewhere.  Heck, In addition to my Rod Carew Jersey, I have a Danny Valencia Jersey.  There, I said it. 

 

5.  NBA Deficiency

I teach Biology.  Each year I show my students the ESPN 30 for 30 “The Announcement” which chronicles Magic Johnson’s decision to announce he had HIV.  I show it during our virus and bacteria unit.  It gives them a historical perspective and does it in a way that they can connect with.  One of the unintended side effects of showing them that film?  They marvel at just how good Magic was on the court.  There are ‘oohs’ and ‘ahhs’ every time I show it.  I feel like I was really lucky to grow up and watch the NBA during that time and kids today don’t understand just how good it was back then. 

Point being?  The NBA was in its hey-day, and we grew up not having anybody to cheer for.  The Lakers left in 1960.  The wolves didn’t start playing until 1989.  If you were a kid that time period, you had no choice but to be a fan of another team.  I still remember the guys on my high school basketball team all were fans of other teams.  Matt was a Laker fan.  Craig loved the Pistons.  Mike liked the Bulls.  Brian liked the Celtics.  It was almost as if everyone had to choose their own team. 

 

6.  College Outreach

I know this is hard to understand, but not every Minnesota kid attends the University of Minnesota.  In addition to attending one year at the University of Minnesota, I also attended NDSU-Fargo. 

Again…Hear me out on this.  Because I grew up in the cities, going to the U of M seemed too close.  I wanted to get away.  NDSU was just far enough to not want to drive home every weekend. 

My football fandom before that point revolved around my high school, the Gophers and the Vikings…in the 80’s!  Those 3 teams experienced very little success during that time (putting it nicely).  Attending a school that had a football dynasty is infectious.  It was impossible not to jump on board. 

For the record I did attend the U of M for one year later on AND was a Gopher football season ticket holder for almost 10 years until my son was born.  #MNCRED 

Speaking of North Dakota, they don't have ANY professional sports teams.  They are all over the map when it comes to fandom.  Some like Minnesota teams.  Some are Packer fans which makes no sense.  I have a friend from Bismarck who is a Cowboys and Braves fan.  Weird.

 

7.  Norm Green Sucks

At this point the North Stars have been gone almost as long as they were here.  There is a whole generation of fans like my son, who have known nothing but the Wild.  The North Stars leaving was really hard on some of us.  There was a 3-year period between the team leaving and the announcement that a franchise would be returning.  Not knowing hockey would eventually return, its completely understandable that some North Stars fans became invested in other teams during that time (Unless it’s the Blackhawks #SecordSucks). I know some people that are still Dallas Stars fans.  :-/   #NormStillSucks #DallasCanSuckIt   

 

8.  Other

There’s always some weird ones.  We all know someone who is a Notre Dame fan.  I’ll never understand that one.  I have a co-worker who loves Duke.  Why?  She just does.  No connection to them at all.   I’m sure there are other reasons out there

Maybe you’ve cheated on Minnesota in other avenues? 

-Maybe you have a cabin in Wisconsin?

-Maybe you’re an Indoorsman. 

-Maybe there are other musicians you would rather listen to than Prince?

-Maybe you hate the crowds at the state fair?

These are just a few examples.  Have you ever cheated on Minnesota?  If so with who?  I’d love to hear your thoughts.  This is a safe space and I will forgive you.

My week with an NFL Hall of Famer

posted Jun 17, 2019, 1:02 PM by Dan Whenesota   [ updated Jun 27, 2019, 2:21 PM ]

(More photos at the bottom)

When I was a teenager, I was a really good bowler.  Many weekends were spent at bowling alleys around the state competing in tournaments for scholarships.  One of the tournaments that I competed in was sponsored by the NFL, the NFL Alumni as well as Brunswick.  I won at the state level and advanced to the regionals which were held in Ames, Iowa.  The top 4 finishers at that tournament advanced to the finals and would bowl as a team in Honolulu, Hawaii.  I finished 3rd. 

There were 12 regionals held around the country.  Each regional team was paired with an NFL alumni bowler to compete for scholarships.  My region was paired with Willie Lanier.  For those of you who don’t remember that name, he was a linebacker for the Kansas City Chiefs.  The same Kansas City Chiefs that beat the Vikings in Superbowl IV, 23-7.  He was inducted into the NFL Hall of Fame in 1986. The other NFL players that attended were:

Babe Parilli, Dick Szymanski, Tommy Nobis, Otto Graham, Lem Barney, Elroy ‘Crazy Legs’ Hirsch, Bobby Bell, Ollie Matson, Tom Fears, and Bobby Mitchell.  Kenny Stabler was originally scheduled to attend but something happened at the last minute that he couldn’t, and I don’t remember who ended up replacing him.

I remember thinking when I met Lanier that he was the biggest man I had ever seen.  But I also remember him being very friendly, kind, funny, and ALWAYS smiling.  He seemed to tolerate us kids more than some of the other NFLers. 

We all were housed at the Sheraton Waikiki hotel.  The word 'housed' probably isn't accurate.  The hotel was right on the beach.  My room had a view of the ocean and Diamond Head.  Not only did the bowlers and their families stay there, the NFL players and their families stayed there as well.  We spent a lot of time together.  It wasn’t a one-day event.  This was a week-long affair.  They had a schedule for us every day, we ate meals together, did site seeing etc. 

Because it was sponsored by the NFL, we were there during the Pro-Bowl.  We got to attend a practice session as well as the Pro Bowl game itself at Aloha Stadium.  We were competing at the Bowling alley on Hickam Air Force Base.   Because of that we did a group excursion to Pearl Harbor and the USS Arizona Memorial.  They had a luau for us every night with food and music.  Apparently at one of the luaus my dad was watching some attractive female Hula dancers with Elroy ‘Crazy Legs’ Hirsch.  Hirsch said to my dad, “Isn’t it amazing how their feet barely move when they’re dancing?”  My dad replied, “You're looking at their feet?”   My dad.  What a guy.

After round one of bowling our team was in first place.  Lanier was a pretty good bowler even if his score didn’t count towards us winning.  Its too bad it didn't.  He may have been the best bowler out of all the NFLers.  In the end we finished third.  How Minnesotan is that, not being able to hold a lead?  Like most Minnesota teams, I've never been 'clutch'. 😊  Finishing third wasn’t too bad.  I got a $300 scholarship for it.  I also got an incredible experience with memories to last a lifetime and a great story to tell.   Apparently the tournament cost so much that they couldn't justify having the event the following year.  Therefore, my experience truly was once in a lifetime. 

Most of my free time in Hawaii was spent running around with the other kids and goofing off.  I was 14.  I didn't have the appreciation for sports history that I do now.   I regret not getting to know Lanier better or even asking him more about that Superbowl and beating the Vikings.  Although part of me thinks maybe he appreciated being treated like a regular person and not having to talk football all the time.  Maybe he’d let me interview him for the film?  It would be great to see him again and look at pictures of the event together. I also regret not speaking more to Bobby Bell.  He was also a Hall of Fame linebacker on that Chiefs team in addition to being a member of the 1960 Gophers National Championship team. 

Andy Worhol once said “In the future, everyone will be world famous for 15 minutes.”  I don’t know that I’ll ever be famous. Sometimes when I'm in the grocery store, a student sees me and says hello.  That's probably about as close as I'll get.  But I’ve been extremely fortunate.   As an average kid who loved sports, I’ve had some really unique experiences with professional athletes that most people don’t.  I’ve written about a few of those experiences already (Mahorn, Nanne, Steinbauer) and I have a few more yet to tell.  But this one might be the most unique.  How many people can say they spent a week in paradise bowling with an NFL Hall of Famer?  I’m very appreciative for having more than 15 minutes.  I’m also appreciative that these athletes have given me some of their time and been a part of my life.  That week with Willie Lanier was just like him. Legendary. 

If you missed it:

Rick Mahorn blog  click here

Lou Nanne blog click here

Ed Steinbauer blog click here


Scroll down for pictures


Football card Lanier autographed for me (It's really faint. You can see it if you click on it)




Willie Lanier and Bobby Bell at the Luau




Willie, the Mrs and Bobby at dinner




Our team




Bobby Bell photo bomb. 




Entire Group: Bowlers and NFLers at the Air Force Base




I'm pretty sure this is Scott Studwell.  My mom had a crush on him. 




Sweetness himself, Walter Payton signing autographs at practice




Dad with some Rams Cheerleaders.  Doesn't he look happy?




Dad and Otto Graham.  Not 'as' happy, but still happy. 




Aloha Stadium




Ticket Stub









                   
 








 






   

































      
              













  




















































































































































































Minnesota Does Not Feel Bad For You

posted Jun 13, 2019, 9:43 AM by Dan Whenesota   [ updated Jun 13, 2019, 11:11 AM ]

(As you are reading this blog you might want to have some mood music playing in the background. Click here)


Reminder: All caps means yelling. 

Last night I watched the St. Louis Blues win the Stanley Cup.  I was rooting for them because I’m tired of Boston winning.  As a Minnesota sports fan, it’s easy to root against a team that wins all the time. 

But no sooner had the celebration begun did I start seeing posts on twitter about St. Louis being vindicated for NEVER winning a Stanley cup.  Although that may be a true statement, it’s meant to claim some sort of ‘woe is me’ for St. Louis sports fans.  The problem is that it completely neglects the fact that their baseball team won 2 World Series in the past 15 years, and their football team won a Superbowl in 2000.

I hate to break the news to you St. Louis, but Minnesota doesn’t feel bad for you.  Our last Major* sports championship was in 1991.  Almost 28 years ago.  That’s the longest streak running.  It used to be Cleveland, until they won the NBA title in 2016 putting Minnesota atop that list.

This pity party crap seems to be a trend this summer. 

It started with the NBA draft.  We were bombarded with media trying to make us feel bad for the Knicks if they didn’t get the first overall pick.  Because they had the worst record in the NBA and their owner is a jerk, we were all supposed to root for them to win the lottery.  The Knicks have had the #1 overall pick 4 times in their history.  Ever heard of Patrick Ewing?  In the Wolves 29-year history, we have had the worst record in the NBA 3 times and many other years where we were close.  We’ve had the #1 overall pick ONCE in our history and it didn’t come until the franchises 26th year. 26 YEARS!!!  If you want an expansion franchise to survive and have some success that’s absolutely ridiculous. 

Point being…Shut up New York.     

Then a few weeks ago the Milwaukee bucks lost the Eastern Conference finals to the Raptors.  Milwaukee’s pity party started almost immediately claiming they hadn’t won a championship since 1971. 

Um….Excuse me? 

All the sudden Milwaukee isn’t full of Packer fans?  How do you say that with a straight face?  Not to mention the Packers used to play a few games a year in Milwaukee.  I’m well aware the team is based in ‘Green Bay’.  But claiming the Packers don’t belong to Milwaukee is like saying St. Paul hasn’t ever won a championship because the Lakers and Twins won theirs in Minneapolis.  It’s a ridiculous argument. 

Shut up Milwaukee.

Then the whole St Louis thing last night.  I was rooting for you, now I’m already sick of you.  Your hockey team has never won a championship?  NEITHER HAS OURS!  Guess what? Neither has our Football team!  Our NBA team hasn’t had one since the 50’s.  Do you know who has?  ST LOUIS!!!  You had 3 NBA championships in the 60s.  SHUT UP!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Why does everyone want to claim being a loser?  Do they even understand what that entails?  The heartbreak. The disappointment.  The ‘here we go again’ feeling in the pit of your stomach when your team blows the lead?  The nausea you feel when your kicker lines up for a field goal?  Your muscles tensing every time the Manager goes to the bullpen?  Not even being able to enjoy small successes because the fatalist inside knows that doom is around the corner? 

What a bunch of spoiled insufferable sports fans.  Congratulations on winning the Stanley Cup.  But Just. Shut. Up.       

 

 

*=The Major Sports Leagues are defined as the NFL, NBA, MLB and NHL and possibly the MLS now.  That definition is based on popularity, TV ratings and revenues.  The Lynx have won 4 championships.  I am a Lynx fan and watch the team regularly.  I am also a huge fan of the US women’s soccer team.  Minnesota also has a women’s pro hockey team, the Whitecaps, who won their championship last year.  We also have a women’s pro football team, the Vixen, who are pretty damn good too.  They made it to the championship in their league last year. I have defended women’s sports publicly on social media to people who take shots at them. I have coached women’s/girls sports for 20 years, even though I don’t have a daughter.  I have created opportunities for girls at my school when the boys got to do something that wasn’t offered to the girls.

 

Having said that, comparing a WNBA title to a Superbowl is not the same thing.  It just isn’t.  In terms of popularity, ratings and revenue, its apples and oranges.  Maybe someday it will be, but right now it’s not. I’m not saying it’s right. I’m just saying that it’s reality.   

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Minnesota Sports Report Card - 18-19 School Year

posted May 27, 2019, 6:12 PM by Dan Whenesota   [ updated May 28, 2019, 11:14 AM ]


Sometime in the next few weeks, children all around the state will have their last day of school.  Teachers however, have one more day.  On that day we clean, pack up our rooms and say goodbye to colleagues for the summer.  There’s also one other important thing we do.  That day, we enter final grades for students based on their work, achievement and how much they’ve learned.

I thought it would be fun to look at our sports teams the same way.  How have they done this year?  How does that compare to last year or to the other ‘students’?  Are they showing growth, or are they performing below their potential?

I needed a starting point.  At my school we have a building wide grading scale (90 = A, 80 = B…etc) So I came up with the grading scale below.  It’s not concrete and there may be some exceptions. We must remember that each child is different and has their own unique challenges.  Therefore, we may have to make some adjustments.  But it’s a starting point. 

A+ = Championship
A = Made Playoffs but lost conference championship
A- = Playoffs/Won second round
B+ = Playoffs/Won first round
B = Made playoffs
B- = Made Playoffs lost first round
C+ = Didn’t make playoffs but finished strong and almost did.  
C = Didn’t make playoffs
C- = Didn’t make playoffs and fell apart at the end.  
D = Were never really in the playoff hunt.
F = The team was a complete disaster. 

There are also comments we use to describe why each student received the grade they did.  Here are some examples:  Contributes to class;  Could do better work;  Uses class time wisely;  Disruptive.

Lastly, to protect their privacy, we don’t use student’s full names when we refer to them in writing.   

With those being our parameters, lets dive in.  Remember, the sooner we’re done, the sooner we can go home for the summer!


Vikings

The previous school year the Vikings lost in the NFC championship to the Eagles, earning themselves an A.  But I might have downgraded them to an A- for the disastrous way they lost.  Regardless, the point is that expectations were very high for this school year because of improvement shown the previous year. 

However, the entire year the Vikings were very inconsistent.  They spent most of their budget on a QB, Kirk C, but didn’t have enough money to buy other supplies like offensive line.  They started the school year 1-2-1 and had to expel some students because of disruptions: Daniel C, because of poor use of equipment, and John D because his play calling was extremely offensive, or not, depending how you look at it.  In the end the Vikings turned in just enough work to be in the playoff hunt.  All they had to do was ace the final test in Chicago, but apparently, they didn’t study hard enough. 

Final Grade = C-
Comment = Not Working to Potential

Disciplinary side note to media: If I ever hear the term ‘Ballcap Game” again, I WILL be calling home and speaking to parents. 


Timberwolves

Just like the Vikings, the Wolves were coming off a school year where expectations were very high after being in the playoffs for the first time in 14 years.  Then last summer, Jimmy B requested a transfer to a different school.  He had some unexcused absences, and when he finally did show up, he used some very inappropriate language, and was disrespectful to staff.  While waiting for his transfer he was often in the nurse’s office with ‘General Soreness’.  His request to transfer was eventually granted.  

At about the same time, some new students transferred in from Philadelphia, but one of them, Robert C, was often home with illness and missed too many days of school.

Tom T had to be expelled because of Verbal Abuse, Intimidation, and Bullying. 

Last year, Glen T spent a good chunk of the budget on Andrew W.  But this year, Andrew did not work to his potential and seemed distracted. Until Andrew starts to perform at a higher level, the amount of the budget spent on him could hold the entire class back for 4 years.  

One positive for the team is that Karl T continues to grow and his potential seems limitless. 

Final Grade = D-
Comment = Unacceptable Conduct, Working Below Ability, Appears Indifferent

 

Wild

After receiving a B- the previous 3 years for losing in the first round of the playoffs, the Wild started the 2018 school year strong, with high marks at mid-terms in Fall Semester.  However, that early year achievement seemed to lose steam around Thanksgiving break. A few weeks after winter break their average test scores fell to 50%. 

Because of the class’s lack of effort, Nino N was sent to another school in Nashville, to send a message to the remaining students about their effort.  A short time later, the same thing happened to Charlie C, but he was sent to Boston.  Both of those students are doing much better in their new settings. On a weird side note, they both got into a fight recently and had to serve detentions. 

The Wild had many opportunities to make the grade this year.  But when it came down to each important test, they seemed more concerned with their extra-curricular activities than their academics.  

Final Grade = C-, but downgraded to D+ for effort 
Comment = Unacceptable Effort., Lacks Focus

 

Lynx

Every once in a while, a student misses getting a grade by a point or two.  Depending on the teacher, they may bump the student up a grade if they have no missing assignments, did well on tests, participated in class, etc.  Last year the Lynx lost in the first round of the playoffs, which by our rubric gives them a B-.  Having said that, they’ve won 4 of the previous 7 WNBA championships.  Those are the only A+’s in school history since 1991.  I have no problem bumping the Lynx up a grade. 

The Lynx are the Gifted and Talented of our school.  They deserve every ounce of credit they get, and probably should get more. 

Final Grade = A- 
Comment = Outstanding Effort.

 

Twins and MNUFC

These teams are currently in the middle of their seasons.  Therefore, we will have to assess them a bit differently.  In education, we would say ‘make modifications’ to the assessment.  We’ll try to come up with a cumulative grade for the last 365 days.  To do that we will average their final grade from last year and what their current grade would be if their season ended today.  We’ll call it an ‘In-Progress’ grade.  Both of these teams will be attending Summer school and their final grades will be recorded then. 

 

Twins

The Twins have had 8 years of D and F grades.  They made the wildcard game in 2017, but MLB does not consider that playoffs.  They call it the ‘post-season’.  That’s their definition, not mine.  Maybe I’d give the twins a C+ that year.  But last year, the Twins regressed.  With expectations being high from 2017, they failed to make the playoffs in 2018.  They expelled Paul M. after winning some academic awards.  Paul’s parents are still trying to contact administrators for an explanation. 

I am a bit superstitious so I am going to word this carefully.  At the moment this is being written, the Twins are the best class in the country.  They open enrolled some new students for the year.  Their test scores are off the charts and better then everyone else’s by far. In fact, they are doing so well, I’m worried it may draw unwanted attention from test administrators about academic impropriety. 

Having said that, if they continue to do this well, they WILL make the playoffs.  And if they do, they will most likely have to finally stand up to the school yard bully…The Yankees.  I’m already getting nervous talking about it and, I don’t want to jinx anything so lets just give the Twins a ‘B’ based on where they sit today.  Let me be clear, this is NOT a final grade and could change depending on how consistently they perform on tests. 

In-Progress Grade =  C  (Average of 2018 D and 2019 currently a B) 
Comment = Shows Improvement

 

MNUFC

It’s amazing how often it happens, but sometimes a new student arrives, and on their first day you are giving a test.  You can’t hold them accountable for that test if they weren’t enrolled for the entire unit.  The Loons are in their third year of school.  They are still getting adjusted to the routines and schedule.  Because of that I would give them a modified C- for the first two years.  Having said that, their classroom got remodeled this year.  They have all the newest supplies and technology.  Their test scores have improved some this year and if the playoffs started today, they would be in.

In-Progress Grade = C+ (Average of 2018 C- and 2019 currently a B) 
Comment = Growth Observed

Disciplinary Side note: This class is unusually loud and disruptive.  We are continually working with them on using their indoor voices.  Not to mention they keep singing some song about a wall.  


Whitecaps and Vixen

We’re also going to include the following classes in our report card not only because they deserve to be, but because they illustrate a very important point. 

Whitecaps = A+ Won 2019 championship.

Vixen = A- Lost 2018 championship. 

The State collects standardized test scores and reports that data back to the school.  The data is often grouped so we can see if certain populations or demographics are performing better than others and we can then use that information to help address needs.  Having said that, if the state was monitoring this report card, there would be a huge red flag.  The female students are clearly outperforming the male students.  As teachers, we are charged with figuring out why and trying to increase scores for that demographic. 

Challenge accepted.  I will be sure to continue posting my thoughts on what can be done to improve achievement with those under performing classes as well as applaud the successes of those that are excelling. 

;-)   

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