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Sunday, May 28, 2000
Super Seniors
One more time I want to mention the Class of 2000 senior student-athletes. In my position, I receive a number of graduation open house invitations every year. This year, there are even more because of the fact that I have a son (Dan) who is graduating. We know a lot of these kids and have watched them grow up. It's exciting to see the successes they have had and to anxiously await their college experiences, too. It's even more enjoyable to see what nice young men and women they have become. Parents, you can be proud of your graduates. They are outstanding young adults and will continue to succeed in many different areas because of the examples you have been and the good choices they have made. This year's senior class at both FFHS and Hillcrest Lutheran Academy are truly outstanding role models for the younger students in our area. Several of them have given of their time to visit the elementary schools and some Middle School classrooms during the final weeks of the school year. What a thrill for those younger kids! I really think the seniors enjoyed it, too. I've said it before, this is a talented group! Not only athletics, but music, art, academic achievements, citizenship and more. The Fine Arts Festival at the High School and the Baccalaureatte service at the Middle School this past week were excellent.

Some of these seniors are having quite a spring! Titus Christianson is heading to the Section 8AA individual tennis tournament as the top seed out of the North and the Otters are heading there as a team against Willmar. The competiton is scheduled for Tuesday and Wednesday in Alexandria. Many area baseball and softball teams are into the playoffs and we have several track and field athletes competing in section meets this week.

There are some outstanding senior athletes at several area schools. I haven't had the opportunity to get to know many of them, as I have the Fergus Falls kids, but on the occasions I have had to see them play or to visit with them briefly at banquets, or observe them from a distance, they have shown the same qualities I have mentioned above. Ask any coach and they'll tell you how hard it is to see quality senior kids leave their program, and this year there are many of those kids who have filled leadership roles admirably

To the class of 2000, thanks for the thrilling memories you have provided to your school and community, for your dedication and hard work, for representing your school with pride and for exemplifying a positive attitude to underclassmen in your school district. We wish you the best as you move on to college or to your first full-time job. Also, when you are back in the area, attending a game, stop by the radio broadcast area and say hi. Better yet, keep us posted on what you're doing by e-mailing me at [email protected] anytime! In fact, put www.craigolsonsports.com in your favorites and visit our site regularly to keep informed on how your high school is doing. Good Luck!

Junior golfer John Ouren needed to make a birdie putt on number 18 to join a six-player playoff at the Section 8AA meet at Perham Lakeside Country Club on Friday. Then, John went out and birdied the first playoff hole to earn a state tournament berth. He will be competing at Bunker Hills in Coon Rapids on June 6th and 7th. Talk about pressure! Nice job, John.
Posted By Craig Olson
Wednesday, May 24, 2000
Jottings
Jason Retzlaff has been honored once again. The 1999-2000 captain of the NDSU Men's Basketball squad was recently named a recipient of an NCAA post-graduate scholarship. Jason is one of only 16 NCAA Mens basketball players across the nation to receive the $5000 award for graduate study. Competition for this award included NCAA Division I, II and III Universities. Academic achievement, community service and basketball accomplishments were major criteria used by the seven person national committee. Jason will be student-teaching in Underwood this fall, completing his undergraduate degree in physical education and coaching. He will return to NDSU to pursue his Maters Degree and work as a graduate assistant basketball coach with the Bison. Jason, of course, is the son of Dave and Deb Retzlaff of Fergus Falls and a 1996 graduate of FFHS. He was also the point guard for the 1998 NJCAA Division III National Champs at FFCC.

Recent FFCC grads Cody Norman and Jared Swanson will be playing for former Spartan Paul Grove at Mayville State University next year. Swanson was recently named co-male student athlete of the year at FFCC. They will join former teammates Chris Heier and Nathan Grove in the lineup for Mayville State. Paul Grove played for coach Dave Retzlaff from 1985 to 1987 at FFCC.

Registration is underway for the summer Otter basketball camps. Gary Schuler and Dave Rund are once again running these popular camps for boys and girls grades two through nine. Parents of students in these grades should be looking for information being sent home with your kids. If you haven't seen any information yet, call coach Schuler at 998-0544 extension 2555. The camps will begin June 5th and will last through June 16th for 6th through 8th graders. The 2nd and 3rd graders will attend a one-week camp from June 5th through June 9th and the 4th and 5th graders will attend a one-week camp from June 12th through June 16th.

Lyndsi Harworth, whose accomplishments at UMD we mentioned in a recent column, has been named to the 2000 National Fastpitch Softball Coaches Association NCAA Division II All North-Central Region team. She is the lone UMD representative on the 14-member honor team.

Brandon/Evansville softball players Debbie Slack and Kami Jesnowski have been selected to the Minnesota All-Star softball team and will play in the All-Star Softball Series on Saturday, June 10th and Sunday, June 11th in Mankato. The girls will play for the Royals. Renee Barenz of Alexandria and Missy Johnson of Morris Area will be members of the Spirits while Shari Vogt of Rocori will lay for the Cardinals.. There are four teams of all-stars that will compete in a round-robin tournament. Slack is currently hitting .565 with a .887 slugging percentage for the Chargers. She leads the team with 27 runs batted in and twelve extra-base hits. Jesnowski has a team high 36 runs and is hitting .433.

Cody Fisher's students always represent his Tae Kwon Do Academy well in competitions and they did so earlier this month in Alexandria. 27 students from Fergus Falls, Ashby and Elbow Lake participated. First place winners included Miss Heather Tietz in forms and Mr. Taylor Gray in Sparring. Miss Alyssa Marlenee was second in forms, Miss Michelle Burris, Mr. Josh Tietz and Mr. Eric Johnson were all second in sparring, with Johnson also finishing second in forms along with Gray. Miss Holly Marlenee was second in sparring.

Chad Davison has received some more honors. The West Central Area senior was recently named to the Minnesota Basketball News Class AA Fab 15 All-State Team. The team consists of 6 forwards, 6 guards and three centers from each class. Davison was also selected to the Minnesota Coaches Association Academic All-State team. This award is based on a student's grade point average, class rank and basketball achievements. Chad will be attending Moorhead State University this fall.

Remember, there are still seats available for our Twins bus trip to see Sammy Sosa and the Cubs on Saturday, July 15th and Mark McGwire and the Cardinals on Sunday, July 16th. E-mail me for more info at [email protected] Don't miss this opportunity to see two of the greatest sluggers in baseball history at the Dome!
Posted By Craig Olson
Wednesday, May 17, 2000
Where are the Baseball Fans?
I know you are out there. I just don't know where you are or why you're hiding. I'm looking for true baseball fans. Fans who love the game of basebal. I'm also looking for Twins fans. I know you are out there, too. Even when they struggle like they have over the past several years and over the last few days in Seattle. Am I a member of a dying breed? Is baseball losing its fan appeal? Are we so high tech that we can't enjoy the beauty and strategy of this grand old game. Do we need to have constant stimulation? Can't we enjoy the sport for what it is? Do we have to have all the man made cheerleading devices and all the noise and scoreboards that appeal to us to cheer? Have we forgotten how to do that on our own that we need prompting from an electronic board to remind us it's time to cheer for our team? People alway complain about the salaries and it's true, they are way out of line. But, when the teams take the field, the game becomes the focus. What happens between the lines is still the essence of the game. The plays that are made, the records that are set, the pennants that are won, the satisfaction that is gained by players and fans alike from playing or observing the on-field accomplishments of our baseball favorites. Long years honing their craft in youth baseball, high school, college, the minors, all with the hope of making the Big Show. Only a fortunate few make that ultimate goal of reaching the major leagues. Baseball is steeped in history and tradition. It is a nostalgic fabric of our nation's history. I dare you to watch "Field of Dreams" and not tear up when Kevin Costner's character plays catch with his departed dad. Watch Gary Cooper as Lou Gehrig in "The Pride of the Yankees" and you'll get goosebumps during his farewell speech, delivered with Babe Ruth (THE Babe Ruth) in the background, playing himself.

Twins fans, remember 1991? How about 1987? For you 'more mature' fans, what about 1965? Tremendous memories and forever a part of who we are. Do you remember where you were, who you were with, when the Twins won the World Series for the first time? How about the second time? 25 or 30 years from now you'll still be able to recall the nucleus of those teams and they'll still have a special place in your memory.

Now, the reason for this subject is this. I am just stunned at the lack of interest in seeing the Twins battle the Chicago Cubs and the St. Louis Cardinals on July 15th and 16th at the Metrodome. Where are you baseball fans? Sammy Sosa and Mark McGwire, who treated us to the greatest homerun race in baseball history just two years ago and who both shattered the single season homerun record that Roger Maris set way back in 1961, will be playing in the Metrodome and it's a great opportunity to see two of the greatest sluggers of our era. When the Twins schedule was released, I was extremely excited to see those games on back-to-back days (Saturday night and Sunday afternoon). In the past, I have been a part of many Twins bus trips. There have been times, even in recent years when the Twins have been struggling big time, where we have had to have a waiting list or even get a second bus to accomodate the number of interested fans. Now, with the two premier power guys in the big leagues coming to Minneapolis, I'm sitting with half a bus full. This shocks me! Packages start at $99 for excellent tickets for each game, roundtrip motorcoach transportation and overnight accomodations in the Twin Cities. We leave town at noon on Saturday, July 15th and return following the game on Sunday, July 16th, probably around 7 or 7:30 that night. It's short, it's sweet and it's affordable. So, I'll say it again ... where are you baseball fans? Join us for a weekend to remember! I know summertime is a busy time and maybe this is the all-time worst weekend in the history of the world for you to get away for a couple of baseball games, but please give it serious consideration. Those planning to make the trip will make some great memories. What a great father-son trip or family trip! If you'd like more info e-mail me at [email protected] and I'll e-mail you the info right back to you. I would hate to see you baseball fans, wherever you are, miss an event like this! If you'd like to go but can't, let me know why you can't join us. At least then I'll feel better knowing that there are many baseball fans out there but just too much going on. Thanks again for letting me complain. I don't like doing it, but my passion for baseball and my belief that there are still some diehard baseball fans out there, compelled me to do it! GO TWINS!
Posted By Craig Olson
Wednesday, May 3, 2000
Where Does the Time Go?
I am really tired of never having enough time for everything that needs to be done! Do any of you feel trapped by time ..... or lack of it? Is there anyone out there that doesn't feel trapped? This column is well overdue again! There is so much going on everyday and it's all a big blur to me. I'm finding out how busy April and May can be when you have a graduate in the house!

The week started with one of my favorite events, the Otter Senior Athletic Awards Night at the Middle School Auditorium. 94 senior student-athletes were honored with many receiving special scholarships. Congratulations to these fine young people on their dedication and perseverance and thanks to the coaches who have been equally dedicated to their sports and these kids. Denny Hanson has been organizing this event for many years and it won't be the same without him. He'll be missed in many ways as he enters retirement after this school year. I have a lot of respect for Denny and wish Gail and him well as they head to Arizona. Time with kids and grandkids will be plentiful!

On Tuesday, the Spring Choir Concert was held and it was, as usual, a great night of entertainment. That was one of those 'lasts' that parents of seniors go through this time of year. Our son Dan has been involved in music forever, as well as theater, and his last production is coming up soon when the High School performs "I Remember Mama." Any advice from you veteran parents of graduates on how to handle all this? People have told me for years that the kids grow up fast and having a senior just emphasizes that fact.

After the concert I took my freshman son, Ben, to Brainerd for a high school golf meet. We arrived at The Pines about midnight and proceeded to drive around in the dark looking for cabin 146 (which wasn't clearly marked, if it was marked at all). Thankfully, John Ouren and Dustin Harris were alertly watching for us and flagged us down after we had toured much of the Grandview Lodge Resort Area. Not a lot to see at midnight. Watching the golf meet on Wednesday was enjoyable. The scores were high, but the weather was great and the golf course in magnificent (as many in the Brainerd/Nisswa area are). What a great opportunity for these high school kids to play some great golf courses.

The annual D.A.R.E. Graduation will be held at the Middle School Auditorium tomorrow night. Officer John Quernemoen has done a super job with the kids in this program through the years. I, for one, certainly hope they can find a way to preserve this program. If one young person is able to resist drugs, alcohol or tobacco because of the awareness presented through this program, it's worth every penny invested in it. I've emceed this event since the first year it was in existence and it's always a thrill to shake each sixth-graders hand as they get their diplomas.

On Friday I get to broadcast a pair of Fergus Falls High School baseball games at the Moorhead Tournament. They play Detroit Lakes and Duluth East at 2:30 and 5:00 p.m. and you can hear the games on AM 1250, KBRF. The Otters are fun to watch and should do well in this tournament. Their pitching should be rested as they haven't played since the Saturday double header split with Bemidji. My thoughts have been with Coach Link this week as his mother continues to battle cancer.

Saturday is Prom and once again Mary Dolan and I get to announce the couples as they parade in front of the capacity crowd that will pack the Fergus Falls High School gymnasium. It's always fun to see these kids dressed to the hilt! Oh yeah, this is another one of those 'lasts' for Dan. My wife, Sue, is in charge of the food for the post-prom party at Northern Aire Lanes. She has enlisted a number of parents of juniors and seniors to help prepare and serve the food at the all-night party. I hope I can stay awake! Hats off to Steve and Nancy Loeffler at Northern Aire Lanes for their continued support of this important event. Sue's doing a great job staying on top of everything. I'm sure glad she is blessed with some organizational skills. I must have been sleeping when they were handed out.

Sunday is the FFCC Athletic Banquet at the Sandpiper Restaurant. This is always a big night. Every sport and every athlete is recognized at this event. It's one of those banquets where I don't work it, I just cover it! A couple of students always do the emceeing and it's always enjoyable. Fun to see the student-athletes together for a function like this. It's been another great year for the Spartans and both the baseball and softball teams are playing very well. They still have some post season possibillities.

Now you can see why I feel like there is no time! This is a busy week and I get tired just thinking of it. Thanks for letting me ramble a little! Some of this was sports related, all of it was life related. More soon.
Posted By Craig Olson
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