Jaguars Take Three in a Row with Wins over Rebels, Wildcats and Clippers —Off to Best Start in Jaguar History
BY NEAL MEYER
Your Truman/Martin Luther/Granada-Huntley-East Chain Jaguars moved to 7-4 this past week by overtaking the 7-4 United South Central Rebels 61-47, defeating the 2-7 Heron Lake-Okabena Wildcats 66-57, and narrowly escaping with a 57-54 three-point win over the 2-8 Cleveland Clippers.
The USC game was the final game for the Jags in the Blue Earth Tournament. In opening round action the Jags lost to the Jackson County Central Huskies 91-64. But since that time have been on a roll.
Against the Wildcats head coach Adam Walker said, “We jumped out early with a 13-0 lead thanks to a [sophomore] Matt Heckman three-pointer and great inside presence from [senior] Paxton Gravlin and [freshman] Adam Heckman. [Sophomore] Owen Wolter added a three-pointer and a couple buckets as well, and [sophomore] Cael Jaskulke scored two straight baskets to push the lead to 28-11 with about five minutes to play.”
Walker continued, “We played great defensively for the first 15 minutes of the game but two straight three-point plays by HL-O cut the lead down to 10 and eventually eight at the half 35-27.
"HL-O started the second half the way they ended the first half and eventually tied the game at 38. They created a lot of turnovers in order to claw back into the game.
"With the score tied about half way through the second half, [senior] Isaac Johnson kicked it into high gear scoring a game-high 13 second-half points all on two-pointers that were mostly in transition to ignite the Jags back into a 10-point lead. [Junior] Cayden Fischer added a couple buckets of his own and the Jaguar defense began to clamp down on HL-O, holding them to only eight points in the last six minutes. A Heckman and Wolter then iced the game from the free throw line and the Jags pulled out the rugged win in Okabena 66-57 for their second in a row away from home.
"It was great to get that win as our Conference schedule really starts to heat up in January. We have a very busy schedule with a lot of road games upcoming so every win is important.”
Johnson led the Jags with a team-high 17 points, seven rebounds and three steals. Gravlin followed that with 11 points, a team-high seven rebounds and three assists. A Heckman scored seven to go with five rebounds, three assists, and a ridiculous team-high seven blocked shots. M Heckman scored seven and added four boards, four assists and three steals. Jaskulke put up eight, grabbed four rebounds and stuffed three Wildcats. Wolter netted 11 to go with three boards and a team-high five assists.
The Jags were back on the road on Monday to challenge the Clippers. Walker said, “Monday night in Cleveland the Jags jumped out early! A Heckman dominated early with a three-pointer and a three-point play to score our first six points, and then continued his performance with 14 of our first 24 points. Wolter contributed a three of his own to help build a 24-11 lead with six minutes left in the first half. Our last two games have seen us come out of the gates early in dominating fashion. The lead would not grow any further however as Cleveland caught fire with a couple three-pointers and the halftime score found the Jags in front 29-22.”
Walker continued, “Six straight points by Cleveland to start the second half would find the Jags up only one point and eventually tied at 36. Cleveland would never take the lead in the second half as the game went back and forth with yet another surge out of the Jags to build a lead up to eight at 45-37 with four minutes left. Cleveland would not go away however and would bury two threes in a row and cut the lead to two before Gravlin knocked down a huge three-pointer to stop the momentum. Fischer and Wolter made a pair of free throws down the stretch which would build the lead to five with 30 seconds left in the game. Cleveland's press gave us some trouble as we committed two straight turnovers and a desperation three by Cleveland went in to cut the lead to two with seven seconds left. A Heckman made 1-of-2 from the line and a last second three fell short for Cleveland as the Jags escaped a tough environment 57-54.”
A Heckman dominated against the Clippers with team-highs in scoring, rebounding, and blocked shots. He put up 23 points to go with six boards and a pair of blocked shots. Wolter put up 11, added a pair of assists and rebounds, and swiped a team-high five steals. M Heckman scored four, grabbed four boards and dished out a team-high five assists, and Gravlin hit double digits with 10 points and added four boards and a pair of assists.
Walker wrapped up his comments by saying, “Monday games are tough, especially on the road against a Conference opponent, and for us to only give Cleveland one lead during the game at 10 seconds in and not give it back is a testament to our group. It's not always pretty but we scrap and claw and make plays when we need to! I am very proud of their efforts tonight! Two straight games now we built big leads early and allowed teams to hang around. We easily could have faltered on the road, but we work hard and to be as inexperienced as we were coming into the season, I'm so proud of the guys for continuing to battle. Our record is now 7-4 and two of our losses came at the hands of a very good Jackson team, so I am very happy with where we are sitting right now.”
As a collective of Truman, Martin Luther, and Granada-Huntley-East Chain, this is the best record the team has had 11 games into any season played thus far. The last time Truman opened a season 7-4 was in the 2010-11 season. The Jaguars are currently 7-4 overall, 4-2 in the Section, and 2-0 in the Conference.
The Jaguars will be at home this Thursday, January 10th in Northrop to face the 3-7 Janesville-Waldorf-Pemberton Bulldogs. Game time set for 7:15 p.m. On Monday, January 14th the team will be on the road to take on the 1-9 Fulda Raiders at 7:15 p.m. To wrap up the weeks’ play the Jags will be on the road on Tuesday, January 15th to face the 3-4 AA Martin County West Mavericks at 7:15 p.m. Good luck Jags!
Healthy Habits for a Happy New Year
At Burtis Chiropractic Center we like to hear New Year’s resolutions that center around healthy living. However, these goals can be hard to stick with for more than a few weeks. As the only Certified Functional Medicine Practitioner in the area, I have the knowledge and tools to help you make and stick to your New Year’s resolutions! Maybe it’s something as simple as taking a daily multivitamin and making monthly wellness visits to your chiropractor. If you really want to get your body back on track, think about getting a blood draw at our office to give you the inside knowledge on how to bring some balance back into your body and life.
Here is some advice for anyone that has trouble with New Year’s resolutions: create healthy habits for yourself, not restrictions. Small steps in the right direction are a lot easier to stick with than completely changing parts of your lifestyle.
Healthy eating doesn’t have to mean extreme diets. If you get in the habit of eating healthier by changing a few things, your body will start to get used to it and your cravings will change. For example, if you cut back your sugar intake, your body will start to crave it less and less. (Don’t go for ‘sugar-free’ sweeteners like nutrasweet, aspartame, sorbitol, etc. They can actually cause digestive problems and weight gain by confusing your gut bacteria.) A similar thing happens with water intake. If you drink more water, your body will start to crave it. You will also see numerous other benefits that come with proper water consumption such as brighter and healthier skin, more regular digestive system function, and improved energy. Try to start cooking more meals at home. When you cook at home with quality ingredients, you can make healthy meals the whole family can enjoy.
Another healthy habit you can work on is your sleep schedule. Getting your body and mind used to a regular sleep schedule will improve energy, mood, and overall improve your daily life. Going to bed and waking up within about half an hour of the same time every day is a good goal to make. We have great supplements that have helped lots of people solve their problems with sleep, whether it’s falling asleep or staying asleep.
Exercising is a goal that a lot of people set for the new year. These kinds of goals can often be overwhelming or hard to stick with after a while. If you want to integrate physical exercise into your life, start small. Start by going to the gym three times a week to ease yourself into it. If you don’t want to go to the gym, try something you can do at home. Go for a walk every night before or after dinner, or do yoga in the mornings. Try a few different things until you find something that works for you!
Mental health is another thing that is important to focus on. Simple things like taking some time to meditate, starting and ending your day in prayer, or giving back to others are easy ways to bring some joy and focus into your daily life. Challenge yourself to take a day or even a week without social media. Allow yourself to be present with the world and people around you and declutter your life from unnecessary distractions. Make a habit of eating dinner at the table with the whole family with no phones present to distract you. For people with more serious mental health concerns, consider getting a blood draw at our office to assess your blood chemistry. If there are neurotransmitter imbalances certain supplements can help with this situation. The supplements are all natural and can often restore balance without the side effects of prescription medications.
If you make the right goals for yourself and approach them with the right attitude, your New Year will be off to a healthy start.
Reset Your Life
It’s that time of the year again, a time when people start thinking about changing their lifestyle and becoming healthier, losing some unwanted weight, and resetting their life.
My name is C.J. Johnson, and I am the owner and director of fitness and personal training at Cutting Edge Fitness in Fairmont. This will be my 11th new year as a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist. In my time in a gym I have seen the general trend of “new year’s resolution” clients come in and out. According to Forbes Magazine, 48 percent of all New Years resolutions are fitness related. They also reported that only eight percent of those people achieved their resolution. In another study done by a group of health clubs, most people lose motivation and quit working toward their resolution by February.
This is where I come in. As a trainer/strength coach, my job is based on progression. Progression is defined as the process of developing or moving gradually towards a more advanced state. The word that I really focus in on is “gradually.” Everything to do with body composition change is gradual. Notice, I didn’t say weight loss, I said body composition change. Weight loss is a false description used in the fitness community because it is not an accurate calculation of what actually is happening in the body when we eat correctly and exercise. Numerous methods of “diet and exercise” can help you lose weight, but we use a very specific method to create real change in the body.
What do I mean by body composition change? Body composition is made up of numerous substances of mass in your body to create your total body weight. These things include water, skeletal muscle mass, dry lean mass, and body fat. These are the things we look at to make sure you are losing weight in the right areas (body fat), and gaining mass in the right areas (skeletal muscle mass), to promote a positive body composition change and to improve overall health and appearance. On site, we use a state of the art machine called an InBody 570 to measure all body composition. This allows us to create your meal plans and workouts 100 percent personalized to your body’s needs and goals.
Our goal at Cutting Edge Fitness is to help you along the way, and to make sure you are progressing appropriately according to your short term goals and long term goals. If you are thinking about starting your journey to a healthier lifestyle, contact us and we can get you on the right track. Have a happy and healthy New Year!
BY NIKKI MEYER
There is no doubt that social media has radically transformed the way we live. You can now learn almost anything about anyone anywhere. You can also be inspired and learn how to make just about anything from anyone anywhere. That’s exactly what happened to Truman resident Calli Rode.
“I was just scrolling through Facebook and I saw videos of people decorating cookies. I thought I could do that. I’m going to do that. Let’s do that. Why not?” And that’s exactly what she started doing.
Calli said she’s always enjoyed baking cookies. Though an accountant for A&E Construction in Mankato by day, her new side business is also a fun hobby she can enjoy at home with her young daughter, Kambria, who willingly helps Calli test out her recipes and dispose of any extra cookies.
Calli’s adventure began in July of this year. After her initial thoughts of I wish we had something around here like that were followed up with Why don’t I do it?, Calli started doing her research. She tested out recipes, looking for the perfect sugar cookie to use as her base. She needed one that would be firm enough and hold up well, but also taste delicious. After she perfected that first recipe, she began experimenting with others such as chocolate chip and pumpkin spice.
She also needed to find the right types of icing—the star of the cookie. “I mainly use a royal icing. It dries hard, but not too hard. It has a nice soft crunch.”
One she figured out her recipes, she had to learn how to actually make the gorgeous-looking cookies she’d seen in the videos. “There was a lot of reading. Reading up on the techniques on how to do it... What works, what doesn’t work. I did a lot of reading about other people’s experiences.”
Then there was the practice. Creating a gorgeous-looking cookie is no easy feat, and Calli’s cookies show off a wide variety of techniques. First, the cookie needs a base layer—an even coating of icing that goes all the way to the edge of the cookie without running down the sides. Sometimes the base layer is a single color or several single colors, and other times getting the desired colors on the base layer takes a little more effort. “Thin icing similar to honey consistency for the base of the cookie. You start with outlining it first and then fill it in,” Callie said. She has done leaf cookies with a beautiful base of marbled reds, yellows and oranges. She’s also done snow-white mittens with a delicate gray zig-zag pattern running along the tops, a multi-colored feathers on a turkey's tail—a feat which is accomplished with the help of a toothpick and must be done quickly before the icing sets too firmly.
Other cookies require a textured base layer, such as to create the ridges in a pumpkin.
Once the base layer has been created, it needs to dry before Calli can add any additional layers. And that happens after Calli first makes the dough, chills the dough, rolls it out and cuts the shapes, bakes the cookies, and then cools the cookies enough to decorate them. The entire process takes a few days, depending on how complex the decorations are and how many layers are required.
After the base layer is dry, the cookie is ready for any additional icing it may need. “I use a thicker, toothpaste consistency for writing and details, and a very thick icing that holds it shape for flowers and leaves,” Calli stated. “For swirls and things like that, one way to make them is to paint or splatter thinned down food coloring or use an edible food paint on the cookie.” Her attention to detail is impeccable.
Calli has been slowly, or not so slowly, building her library of tools. She quickly bought a large 100-piece cookie cutter set that offered a wide variety of options, and she’s been adding more as customer requests necessitate them. “I feel like if somebody wants a cookie shape that I don’t have, I need to get it.” Of course, as any hobbyist knows, the temptation to grow the tools of your trade as fast as possible is very real. Calli laughed, “Sometimes, it’s like, Let’s buy all the cutters! ...They’re only $5!” Calli also shared that, while she hasn’t done it yet, it’s also very easy to find companies who will make a custom cutter with a 3D printer.
Part of her decorating arsenal also includes a projector. “I can use a cookie trick—it’s a mini projector that projects the image on the cookie and then you use that as a guide... On cookies where I’m doing a logo and they need to look exactly like the logo it’s best to have that kind of guide to make sure every one is the same.” Other times she is able to simply free-hand her decorations, still achieving a beautiful uniform look.
There is no uniform process for ordering cookies, Calli said. Sometimes customers bring her a picture and ask if she can replicate it, and other times they just give her a general theme and tell her to go for it. “If they want a specific thing, I’ll let them know what I’m capable of. But if they tell me Do whatever you want, that’s also really cool because I get to do something fun and original.”
She also works with customers to determine their budget and then maps out their cookies accordingly. “They are kind of expensive because of the amount of labor and time that goes into them. If you want something simple that would be a lower budget, but if you want something higher we can do that too. We talk about theme, quantity and budget.” Her base price is $24 a dozen. The sets that take her eight hours to complete have a higher price tag.
While the extra income is nice, Calli said that her time making cookies is also much-needed personal time. “I think it’s kind of relaxing. You’re just in your own little world and I’m only focusing on one thing. I’m not worrying about the laundry or whatever comes next.” She does limit the number of cookies she’ll make in a week, however, as she knows life—namely her daughter—still requires her time and attention. “I’m still a single parent working full-time. Any more than four to six dozen a week and I start to go a little crazy.” Calli also noted that she is limited in how many cookies she can sell out of her house based on Minnesota Cottage Laws.
To see more of Calli’s amazing cook creations, visit her Calli’s Cookies page on Facebook. You can also email her at email@example.com for more information on ordering.
The Brummond family together after receiving the news that they will be traveling to Paris.
BY NIKKI MEYER
On December 1, 2018 Holly Brummond posted on her Facebook page: As some great friends blessed me with kind words and gifts today it got me thinking about how grateful I am! I don’t think a day has gone by since my first diagnosis, 4 years 8 months and 1 day ago, that I haven’t had a vast array of things to be thankful for! One of the greatest gifts God has given me is the ability to take in the bad news and then move on to enjoying every minute I can with those around me that I love! (And that’s a whole lotta people).
When she posted that, Holly had no idea of one of the gifts that was yet to come.
Profinium began their Achieving Dreams Together program as a way to lend a helping hand to those who could use one, especially at Christmas time. The financial institution partners with generous
local businesses, and together they are able to impact those nominated by creating life changing moments. In the first two years more than 300 nominations were received and over $50,000 was awarded.
This year, Profinium took things to the next level.
“We had 18 people nominate [Holly],” said Nicole Krumwiede, business banking assistant at Profinium in Truman. Having just completed their third annual Achieving Dreams Together program, Profinium has not had another person receive as many nominations as Holly did. “People were still nominating [her] after the deadline.” Krumwiede stated.
Holly was called and asked to come in to the bank at 9:00 a.m. on Thursday, December 13 under the guise of needing to sign some paperwork. When she arrived, she got more than she bargained for.
Krumwiede met her in the lobby and explained why she was really there. “You were brought in today because a whole big group of people care about you. Have you heard of the Achieving Dreams program before?” Krumwiede asked Brummond. “I nominated someone for it once,” Brummond responded, eyeing the tv camera just a few feet away. As nearly a dozen people emerged from the break room, Holly was told that she had been nominated and chosen.
“Our heart goes out to you,” said Dawn Hendricksen, a family friend. “It’s been a long, long time. You need to have enjoyment and memories. There’s a lot of love here for you.”
“I feel that. Every day I feel that,” Brummond said through tears. “I’m so blessed.”
“One of the reasons I nominated Holly is that through her entire journey she has been brave. So brave that she has never asked for anything for herself,” said co-worker Tami West-Lobato. “She hasn’t asked for time off, people to work her shift, people to take care of things for her—she’s done it all her own and she’s done it with John and Ainsley in mind. And others! She cares for others all the time and never really herself, so she so deserves this. And through it all she’s maintained her faith.”
Finally, Krumwiede got to tell Holly exactly what she was receiving. “We are sending you, your husband John, and your daughter Ainsley to Paris for five days and four nights.”
“I don’t know what to say because I don’t feel like I do anything to deserve all the support I get,” Brummond managed through tears, “and I get so much support. I feel loved and blessed every day. Cancer sucks, but it’s brought so many good things to my life. I hope you all know how much I love and appreciate you.”
Holly’s 14-year-old daughter Ainsley and her husband John were among the supporters present for the announcement. “They are what I live for. They are what I live for every day. What I fight for. It means a lot.”
One of Holly’s biggest goals at this point is making all the memories she possibly can with her daughter. She has dreamed of going to Paris with Ainsley and John for a long time.“I told John that we are going to Paris,” Holly stated. The diagnosis of ovaian cancer that she first received almost five years ago has taken a turn for the worst and in November was deemed terminal. “Even if we have to put it on a credit card and pay for it with my life insurance, we’re going.”
Profinium, in partnership with their employees—especially those at the Truman location, will be taking care of all of the family’s travel and lodging expenses. And, thanks to the Travel and Cruise Center in Mankato, the family will get to visit all of the world-class sites in Paris, including places like the Eiffel Tower and the Louvre. It will truly be the trip of a lifetime, and one that will help a special family achieve their dream.
Holly concluded in her December 1 Facebook post: I just want to thank you all for each day that I feel your love and support! I often hear “you always have a smile on your face.” Well, first of all I don’t always have a smile but it’s hard not to smile when you are surrounded by love! I don’t know what God has in store and I pray that the timeline my oncologist guessed is wrong or that a miracle happens but what I do know is that with the time I have left (however many months or years that may be) I am so thankful to be given a community that lifts me up and fills me with love! Merry Christmas my friends and may you all be as blessed as I am!
From House of Worship to Housing Units: New Owner of former Catholic Church Building Working on Creating Apartments
View of the former sanctuary from John Barrett's current bedroom.
BY NIKKI MEYER
The “For Sale” sign in front of the former St. Katherine’s Catholic Church Building is gone. The building has a new owner.
Having an entrepreneurial eye, when John Barrett saw the building for sale, he saw an opportunity. Though based out of South Dakota, Barrett’s “day job” is in the drain tile business, selling for a company based out of Westfield, IA. The job allows him considerable flexibility, and he does some work on the side running a used equipment business and traveling around in his motorhome. Now, he also intends to be in the business of owning and renting apartments.
“I’ve always colored outside the lines. I’ve wanted a church for a long, long time I just never found one that was suitable or that was priced in a range I could afford. When this opportunity presented itself my mind started working with all the possibilities,” Barrett said.
Originally Barrett had planned to set up living spaces inside the church and erect a commercial storage building/work shop on the grounds outside to house some of his equipment. “I have a small fleet of equipment... I want to be a good neighbor... My plan was to build a cold frame building and then keep everything under cover.” Having learned that the portion of his property he was going to build on is zoned residential, he is now changing his plans. “I’m probably going to end up just putting more residential units on that [parking lot] property.”
Inside Barrett has been busy outfitting the building with additional insulation and more energy efficient light fixtures. “It’s an absolutely beautiful building,” Barrett said. “It’s well built.” His intentions are to end up with two 860 square foot two-bedroom apartments in the former sanctuary and an additional space for his own belongings or to eventually rent out as a third apartment.
Barrett is staying in the building for now while he works on it. The loft room that overlooks the former sanctuary is serving as his bedroom. It’s certainly a room with a view, overlooking the natural light-filled sanctuary with its tall, stately wooden ceiling.
In the large, round window that faces west, he’s hung a Christmas wreath. “It’s about a six-foot window,” Barrett said. “I thought it would be fun, so I got a four-foot wreath to hang in it... It took me a while to find it.”
Sharing the large space with him is his little black Snoodle, Boo.
Barrett said he’s enjoyed his time in Truman so far, commenting on the welcoming people he’s met in town. In the month he’s been here, he’s already gotten to know many of them by name.
Barrett is also renting the two buildings directly south of BoeKett, on the east side of the highway. He hopes to buy them in the future. He’s made it clear that he doesn’t intend to just make money from the community without investing anything back into it. “I did my homework before I bought this property,” Barrett said, discussing population trends in Truman. “I’m wondering... what can the city do to modify it’s long-term thoughts and processes to make this community more desirable?” He hopes that quality rental housing and another business on the highway will be a positive addition to the town.
BY NIKKI MEYER
The heart. A muscle we rarely think about. And yet, it begins working long before we are ever born, and it continues working—every second of every day—until we take our final breath. It works without our permission, without our conscious direction, and without much thought at all on our part.
That is, unless your heart doesn't function the way it should. Then, you think about it a lot.
Vlad and Logan Aksenov think about a heart beating every single day. Usually many times a day. Their two-year old daughter, Alaina, is among those whose heart didn't quite form right. Hers doesn't pump blood as efficiently as it should. That means that oxygen isn't being delivered in her body as well as it should be. Fluid can back up in the lungs and other tissues.
Alaina has already had numerous open-heart surgeries. Just this summer, her cardiologists in Omaha, Nebraska performed a surgery to try and help increase the output abilities of her heart. Hearts that size are small. Surgeries of that sort are tricky. Complications ensued, and Alaina spent nearly a month in the hospital.
Around the time Alaina was finally able to return home to Welcome, her parents welcomed her baby brother, Evan, to the family.
Despite her previous complications, Alaina was doing well upon returning home. However, at the beginning of October, she started getting groggy and refusing to eat. She just wasn't herself. As any parent of a child with health issues knows, brushing off out-of-the-ordinary behavior as a minor incident is almost impossible. Vlad and Logan took her to a cardiologist is Sioux Falls.
Heart failure. The words that buzzed around Vlad and Logan's head for days. At only two-years-old, their baby girl was diagnosed with heart failure.
Alaina was put on several medications and kept in Sioux Falls for several days to stabilize before returning home. The Askenov's were told that the doctors would discuss her case at an upcoming cardiology conference on Monday, October 15 in order to determine the next steps.
Just a few days before the conference was to take place. Alaina took a turn for the worse. She was airlifted to Omaha where a 2x3cm blood clot was discovered in her heart. Her small, toddler heart that is not strong enough to withstand the surgery to remove the clot. She likely would not survive coming off by necessary bypass machine. Alaina was instead put in a heparin drip to help clear the clot while her cardiologists wait for her condition to improve in order to determine what comes next.
While Vlad and Logan are fortunate enough to have full-time jobs—Logan is a nurse manager with Prairie River Home Care and Vlad a truck driver for British Petroleum—the costs for traveling, lodging, time off for medical appointments and hospital stays, and medical bills are adding up at an alarming rate.
A benefit for the family has been organized and will take place on Sunday, December 9 at the Eagles Club in Fairmont from 11 a.m. - 2 p.m. The menu includes a hog roast and a silent auction will be held. Contact Shae Pierson at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information or to make a donation.
Two of the students participating in Esports at Truman High School.
BY NIKKI MEYER
Truman High School (THS) is now home to an Esports league, part of a new trend sweeping the country. Twenty students have already signed up and begun practicing.
“We had a PLC (Professional Learning Community meeting on Wednesday afternoons) and one question was How do we get kids interested in doing well in school?” Inspired by the changes happening at the school, and by a recent trip with his son to the South Dakota School of Mines and Technology, THS teacher Jim Utermarck proposed an unlikely answer: Esports.
“The next day I brought [the idea] up to my first hour class—the 9th graders—and right away a couple of kids who have never been involved in anything were like Let’s do it Mr. U,” Utermarck said. By 3rd hour it seemed the whole high school knew about the idea, and loved it.
Esports involve multiplayer team competitions using video games. Yes, Esports in high school means groups of kids playing games on computers. Organized competitions have long been a part of the gaming community, with participants from all over the country and even the globe being able to compete with one another in the same forum at the same time, thanks to the internet. Fans even pack stadiums to watch games unfold live. Now, the activity is being organized into a league available to high school students. Utermarck sees this as a good thing.
In order for students to participate in Esports, they must meet all of the Minnesota State High School League requirements for eligibility. “I have a student in 7th grade who was floundering. We brought in Esports and he owed me 15 things and he had those things in within a week. [The students] are getting their work done so they can do Esports.” Utermarck stated. “I think the thing that has worked really well is that these aren’t always the kids who are in other sports.”
Utermarck also commented, “When you’re a coach you seem to have a different relationship with kids in school. So now I seem to have a different relationship with some of the kids who would never be out for football or basketball or baseball or golf, but they’re out for Esports. And I think they respect the fact that we’re trying to give them other opportunities.”
The current league at THS is informal. Utermarck said they will likely join the High School Esports League (HSEL) later this year, but first he wants to give the kids a chance to practice and figure out which teams will work well together and playing what games. Fortnite and League of Legends—two games that can be played for free—are the primary focus at this point.
Utermarck commented, “I remember back in the day going Well what are you ever going to do when all you do is sit home and play video games all day?” The world is changing, and now the answer to that question could be that you make upwards of $500,000 a month, like 27-year-old professional Esports player Richard “Ninja” Blevins. Nearly 12 million people follow Blevins online, and close to 60,000 watch each of his game streams live. Even some colleges are now offering large scholarships to gamers.
“The key is that they’re all working together. These games—they have to be six teammates. They learn strategy, they learn how to work together. It’s really cool,” said Utermarck.
While Utermarck owns up to having played Madden back in the 90’s, he is not a gamer today. “I will tell you that 27 years ago when I started teaching I never, ever, ever thought I would be teaching or coaching Esports. But times change.” Right now Utermarck opens the computer lab—or Esports lounge, as it’s been informally renamed by the students—before school, over the lunch hour, and after school, depending on the day. “They have to eat lunch first, though,” Utermarck laughed. “The first day they were there during the lunch hour after like five minutes. Now I don’t open it until 12:45 (15 minutes after lunch has started).”
Down the road Utermarck envisions all-day events and tournaments happening at the school. He also plans to put the students’ fees toward equipment as much as possible. He sees this as an opportunity, and one that he is thankful the administration supports. “It’s been phenomenal. Someone asked me What are you doing it for? It’s to give our kids in Truman as many opportunities as possible. Whatever I can do to give the kids an opportunity, I will.”
Esports at THS is open to all students in grades 7-12 who meet eligibility requirements.
Melissa (Roloff) Etter completed the 2018 TCS New York City Marathon, the largest marathon in the world.
BY NIKKI MEYER
A record-breaking 105,000 hopefuls entered their name into the pool to be selected for registration for the 2018 New York City (NYC) Marathon—the largest marathon in the world. Approximately one in seven people had their name chosen. Truman graduate Melissa (Roloff) Etter was among the lucky few that did.
The 26.2-mile trek in NYC first took place in Central Park on Sept 13, 1970. It has changed greatly since it started, and the race—which included more than 50,000 runners this year—now starts on the Verrazzano-Narrows Bridge, winds through five boroughs, crosses five bridges and more than 300 intersections, and finishes, appropriately, in Central Park. The event is a city-wide celebration and the loudest cheering zone, along First Avenue, boasts an average of 7,500 spectators lining each block.
“I just applied on a whim,” said Etter. “We have a cousin from Truman—Michael Coleman—that lives in New York and he jokingly said one day, ‘Oh you should run the New York City Marathon’ and I’m like I’ll never get in to that. And I just put my name in. You can either be super fast, or it’s a lottery and I got in on the lottery on the first time.”
How it All Started
Etter wasn’t always a marathon runner. In high school she ran short distance races, but gave it up after graduation. Then, when her two boys were young, she started running again. “I went with my cousin (Stacy Backstrom)to Florida to watch her run a half marathon and I thought, If she can do that I can do that, and that’s when I actually started running.”
Etter ran her first 5K with Girls on the Run in Mankato in 2011. It was at the 2015 Mankato Marathon Expo, however, when she got hooked. “They had the medal there for Grandma’s Marathon. It was the 40th anniversary —it was an awesome medal—and I was like I’m going to do a marathon.” She said, “In the back of my head I was like I really want to do this, but the medal—that was it.”
In early 2016, Etter began her training for Grandma’s. “I ran before it, but about four months before is when you start following a training plan.” She uses the book Run Less, Run Faster as her guide, which includes running three days a week and doing cross training two days a week.
The race took place on June 18, 2016—a sweltering day in downtown Duluth, MN. “They had black flag warnings out during the middle of the race. It was horribly hot that day.” Etter’s goal was to finish in less than 4 hours and 30 minutes. She came in just a few minutes over that mark, a finish she felt very good about considering the weather.
Then in January 2017, she upped the ante and did the Dopey Challenge at Walt Disney World with cousin Stacy. The challenge involves running a 5K on Thursday, a 10K on Friday, a half marathon on Saturday, and a full marathon on Sunday. “We did a girls weekend. Stacy’s mom and sister and my mom all came along,” said Etter. “We all did the 5K and the 10K together. We actually just walked it. Unfortunately the half was canceled due to severe weather storms, but we went out and ran our own, along with a lot of other people.” Participants who complete all four events earn a total of six medals, and Etter said they were not going to take their medals without completely the full challenge. “Sunday we did a run/walk together for the full marathon.” Etter said, “It is nutty—trust me, but I would do it again! It was fun to do it with someone and, you know we weren’t competitive. We did it to accomplish it; we did it to do it.”
Following the Dopey Challenge, in February, Etter ran another marathon in Phoenix, AZ. She ran a PR (personal record) of 4:09 in that race. In October she ran the Marine Corps Marathon in Washington D.C. Then a year later, in October of 2018, she ran in the Chicago Marathon. Etter said she’d also done a lot of half marathons and 10K races in between the big races.
The Rewards of Running
What motivates someone to spend so much time pounding the pavement? “I literally get time to myself,” Etter said. “Everything is shut off except for me and my music and I have done everything from total quietness to solving the world’s problems to solving my own problems to solving the world’s problems to solving my own problems to thinking about the next day. It is totally just me-time. There’s no one else bugging me. There’s no phone calls—nothing. It’s just me-time.”
A marathon: just a runner and her thoughts—and 55,000 other runners, and upwards of a million cheering fans, if that marathon happens to be the TCS New York City Marathon.
The lottery drawing for the NYC Marathon took place on February 28, with winners being notified via email. “They do not email you as soon as your name is drawn. However, there is also an insurance policy you can take out so that if anything happens you do get your refund back. So I had gotten an email that my insurance policy had been activated and I thought Well that’s really weird. So I waited and waited and waited.” No email came through. That’s when Etter decided to get a little sneaky. “I was at work and... I ‘illegally’ at work logged onto my bank account on my phone—we’re not supposed to be on our phone—but I logged onto my account and I saw that the money had come out of my checking account so that’s how I found out.” She said the email finally came that night. “It was so exciting. I’ve never been to New York and I was super excited to go to New York and I was super excited to run the New York City Marathon and—it’s the world’s largest marathon.” Etter also spoke of the inspiration she drew from Shalane Flanagan, who won the TCS New York City Marathon last year, becoming the first American woman to win the women’s race in four decades. “To know that she had run it was great.”
Etter flew out to the NYC Marathon with her husband Dave, sons Anthony (20) and Josh (18), along with Anthony’s girlfriend Allie, and Etter’s mom, Susan. The family got to tour the city for a few days before the race on Sunday. Finally, the main event arrived.
With 55,000 runners, not everyone gets to start at the same time. “You put in your time—what your estimated time is, and I put in right around four hours. Luckily I got in the second wave.” For the race, Etter said the elite women go out first, then the first wave with the elite men and the “really fast people” followed by three more waves of runners. The longest time in the second wave is right around four hours, Etter said. Before you can start the race, however, you have to get to it.
“At 5:15 in the morning I hit the subway. I then took that to the ferry, and I rode the Staten Island Ferry over to Staten Island. I then got on a bus and took a bus over to the start line, to go through security and to sit for about two-and-a-half hours to wait for my corral to open up. It’s a process to get over there.” Etter crossed the starting line at 10:33 a.m. “which is really late for a marathon.” She estimated others didn’t get across until almost noon. “It’s a very long day for a lot of people.”
Etter said that once it started, it went fast, however. “It was a beautiful morning, beautiful day. You couldn’t have asked for better weather.” The first two miles of the race are across the bridge back into the city, where the excitement really ramps up.
“You just go through the five boroughs,” Etter explained. Every area has their own little neighborhood and their own thing that they do for you. Some of them had bands—actually there were a lot of bands. Some of the firemen and police were out there... You got to see the heritage (of the different neighborhoods) and stuff like that. It was awesome.”
The Struggle is Real
Even the excitement of hundreds of thousands of cheering people wears off as the miles wear on. “I think you get to the point where you’re just so zoned out,” said Etter. “It’s a hilly course with some challenging bridges.” However the hardest part of every marathon, according to Etter, is the mental battle. For her, that battle really starts to rage about two-thirds of the way through.
“About mile 17 or 18 it starts to get difficult, and by mile 21 you just want to be over it—you just want to be done. There’s truly something about mile 20, hitting that wall—it’s a true fact, let me tell you.”
It becomes more of a mental game at that point. I know that I can physically do it, it just whether or not I have the desire to finish that race, which obviously you always do but sometimes it’s more of a struggle than others.”
There are smaller battles along the way, too. Etter utilizes almost every water station, though she doesn’t stop at them. She grabs her cup and keeps on moving. “Stopping is hard... In fact, one time (at another marathon) I had to have someone time my shoe for me. I couldn’t even bend over to tie my shoe. I was like I’m sorry I need you to tie my shoe for me. I just asked some random person.”
The Light at the End
Etter’s family met up with her at strategic points in the race, around miles 18 and 22. “Having my family watch me at a race was just awesome. My kids have never been to a race before so that was fun. I met up with them twice. That’s what kept me going. I was super excited to know they were there.” She said it was the highlight of “the biggest race of my life.” She said, “it’s always fun to see someone you know. To see the kids cheer for me was awesome.”
Finally, the end was in sight. “No matter what race you do that final mile there’s crowds everywhere and you just know you can do it... I push myself too hard, I think, at the beginning of that last mile, so you really hope you still have the energy to finish, but... (when you hit that final stretch) it’s just the rush of knowing where that finish line is that you’ve actually completed the race is just great.”
And then came the act of actually crossing the finish line—as Etter called it, “the exhilarating moment of knowing that you’re done.” She was officially a finisher in the world’s largest marathon. However, she still had to get out of the world’s largest marathon—her and 55,000 other people. “you just have to stop. You’re body wants to keep going but there’s nowhere to go,” Etter said. “This race was so crowded you literally had to stop (at the finish line)... or you ran into somebody.”
The finishers’ chute was another two miles long and took Etter another 30 minutes to accomplish. Etter didn’t mind much, though. “Walking is very good, so normally I do try to walk around a lot.” After finally making it through the finishers’ chute, she met up with her family and walked to the subway, rode the subway back to the hotel, took a quick shower, then they all went out for supper.
“I don’t usually sit still much after a race. It really helps the next day.” She said she felt fabulous the next day as they finished their tour of the city. “It was my sixth marathon so my body’s a little more used to it. Obviously that first one was worse.”
The family had an eventful return home due to delayed flights and missed connections, finally making it home on Wednesday. Etter took a few days to wind down and recover, using things like staying hydrated, Epsom salt baths, and compression socks. She said she planned to hit the gym again earlier this week.
So how do you follow the world’s biggest marathon? By signing up for another marathon. Etter said her next one will be in May.
Melissa and her husband live in Mankato, where she works for Scheels doing special orders, data entry, and as part of the web team. She is the daughter of the late Scott Roloff and Susan (Kietzer/Roloff) Hunstand. Her grandparents are Gary and Gwen Roloff and Hartwin and Iona Kietzer, of Truman.
TPS student Ashley Mendenhall recently put her artistic skills to work on an area of wall outside the auditorium. The completed piece is also shown above.
BY NIKKI MEYER
Truman Public Schools (TPS) is working hard on creating a positive, supportive learning culture for students to enter each day.
Students in grades 5, 7 and 9 have had or will have the opportunity to attend a one-day retreat, organized by Youth Frontiers.
The upcoming 5th grade retreat will have Kindness as its theme. The three main goals of the event are: understand why and how to make kind choices; enhance empathy skills to understand how words and actions affect others; acquire conflict-resolution skills to safely respond to situations of bullying.
The 7th grade retreat focused on Courage, and had the goals that included: identify personal fears and understand that everyone has them; commit to acting with courage to make your school a better place; deepen relationships with classmates to break down social barriers.
The 9th grade retreat centered around Respect. The event goals were: help students realize they matter, others matter and what they do matters; understand that disrespectful behavior is harmful and engage bystanders to stand up; identify ways to improve the culture of respect in your school and community.
The retreats were held with three other schools participating as well: Madelia, Lake Crystal and Maple River. One of the other goals of the retreat was to get students out of their comfort zones and give them opportunities to interact with students from other local schools, particularly students who look different than the majority of those who roam the halls at TPS.
“It’s our desegregation dollars that pay for these,” said Superintendent Lisa Shellum. “Our kids here, who are primarily white, get to go spend time face-to-face with the Latino kids from Madelia.”
“Our kids were divided up,” said social worker Deb Schneider. “One of the nice things about the retreat is that they weren’t with other kids from the same school. They got to interact with other students that maybe they’ve only ever encountered through sports.”
High school juniors and seniors also got to act as part of the leadership team for the events.
"We are raising the bar and preparing them," said Shellum. "Kids are starting to buy in."
Teacher Sarah Garcia stated that she was hearing positive feedback from both students and parents on the direction the school is going.
"They need to believe in themselves," said board member Allison Klassen. "They do," agreed Shellum. "There is a lot of low self-image here. We need to be challenging them more, and we're doing that."
The Truman Community Choir has been busy rehearsing for their second annual Christmas Cantata. Last year approximately 32 performers from Truman and surrounding areas gathered together to herald the coming Christmas season with a performance that was attended by upwards of 100 people, according to director Mark Nass. This year, however, the Christmas cheer may not be coming.
“Last year we had a ton of fun,” said Nass. “This year I don’t have as many singers as I had because, you know... life happens.” Only 15 or so people have been regularly attending practices, which started in early September. “If we don’t get more singers this week then we’ll have to cancel the performance.”
Nass said a variety of people made up last year and this year’s group. Some are people who used to sing in their church’s choir when their church had one, and others just enjoy singing. “We’ve even got a few high school students this year,” Nass said. He said anyone currently in 9th grade and above is welcome to join, provided they show up ready to sing!
The group practices on Wednesday nights from 7:00-8:00 p.m. in the auditorium at Truman Public Schools (TPS). While there are only about five rehearsals left, Nass said that participants don’t have to be able to attend all of them, as cds are available with the entire performance on them. “The cds are really nice” Nass said, stating that participants use them at home, in their vehicle, or download them to smartphones and iPods.
Nass said that the biggest requirement for joining the group is “you enjoy singing!” He stated, “we’re not professionals. It’s a fun community outreach that spreads the message of Christmas and the season.”
This year’s performance is “NOEL: Night of Everlasting Love” which is a collection of timeless Christmas classics with some new twists to the arrangements. The entire event should last around 45-50 minutes, with a 10-15 minute break in the middle.
The choir is in need of both male and female singers for all parts. If you are interested or have questions, contact TPS band director Dave Stordalen by calling the high school at 776-2111 or via email at email@example.com.