Archive for Kip Kovar

SENIOR SPOTLIGHT: Cancellation of senior season brings many lessons to Lester Prairie’s Guggemos

LESTER PRAIRIE – For Lester Prairie senior Maddie Guggemos, it was more than just her last sports season. It was much more. It was things that were beyond the softball diamond.

“It is not anything that we ever imagined or thought could happen,” Guggemos said. “Every senior athlete has this image in their mind about having that one last year with all of their teammates and how their last high school game would be played. My teammates and I along with every other person in this position are most likely very heartbroken on what is happening around the world right now. It has been so hard trying to get over the fact that I won’t have that one last season to play my favorite sport with all my favorite friends alongside me.”

Senior year is a special time for high school athletes. That’s no different for Guggemos. Not only were the Bulldogs poised for a strong season with talent returning, but Guggemos was also excited to see what she could do coming off a strong junior season.

“I was mostly looking forward to spending one last time on the field with my team and the great coaches,” Guggemos said. “I was really looking forward to seeing our team’s growth this year. To see the team’s chemistry along with how we would come together with all the hard work we’ve been putting in the last few years. I hit for a pretty good average my junior year, so I wanted to see if I could improve that number this year.”

Early on in her softball career, Guggemos was a pitcher throughout the years. Although she never really got the time in the circle at the varsity, she was still dedicated to working on her craft. She knew one day she might be needed, and wanted to be ready for her team.

“I’ve practiced pitching for many years and I was always OK with not being a starting pitcher,” Guggemos said. “I knew that I could always pitch if needed. I was really into pitching through my freshman year. I still practiced and always told coaches I would be there if needed.”

While Guggemos saw limited time on the rubber for the Bulldogs, her senior season was a time where she would have enjoyed that opportunity.

“This final year would’ve been a season where I wanted to pitch just one last time,” Guggemos said. “Even one game, a few innings, or just one more chance. I was always up for the challenge to pitch and contribute any way that I could. It was fun because I can play nearly anywhere, but I guess you could say I was really looking forward to the challenge.”

Guggemos will never get that chance to take on that challenge as the Minnesota State High School League canceled the spring sports season last month due to the COVID-19 pandemic. While the current situation took away her final season, it can’t take away the memories she’s created along the way.

“Some of my favorite softball memories are in my freshman season when I pitched JV and I ran bases on varsity for Hope Feltmann,” Guggemos said. “That was a new and exciting experience. Hope always got on base, I always had to be ready to run. That same year I pitched at a JV tournament all day in the hot sun, and that was a good memory.”

Memories throughout Guggemos’ career go beyond the diamond, as well. It was the little things along the way that stand out the most.

“I will miss everything about high school sports,” Guggemos said. “Whether it was practice in the hot gym for volleyball, to running out of the locker room seeing all the fans cheer. Whether it was hearing the band play, the locker room talk, the bus rides, to the pre-game dance parties and walking down the halls and seeing all the little kids say ‘I watched her volleyball game last night. She jumps high.’ I will miss being that role model for kids. From the bottom of my heart, I will miss everything about being a high school athlete. Most definitely by far some of the best moments of my life so far.”

Having her final season taken away in an instant hasn’t been easy for Guggemos. While it’s a hard pill to swallow, she knows this is something that will only make her stronger going forward.

“It will make me a stronger person by far,” Guggemos said. “I look at things so differently, and the last few months have taught me not to take things for granted. It will teach a lot of us not to take stuff for granted.”

Lester Prairie hosting last day of school parade

To celebrate the last day of school at Lester Prairie Schools, members of the community and students are invited to participate in a drive-by parade.

The parade will take place Friday, May 22, and will start at 11:30 a.m. Members of the Lester Prairie staff will be lined up around the school to see students one last time before summer vacation. Students and their families will remain in their vehicles to be the participants.

Winsted Chamber of Commerce offering bingo game

The Winsted Chamber of Commerce is hosting a Winsted Bingo game for the next four weeks. All area customers are welcome to play.
Each week, for four weeks, the Winsted Chamber of Commerce will draw a winner for $50 in Winsted Bucks.
The instructions for the game are below.
1) Print the bingo card below.
2) Complete an action on the board. If you make a purchase at a Winsted business, they will mark the appropriate square. All others will be on the honor system.
3) Take a photo of your good bingo (any five squares across, up and down, or diagonal) and email it to info@winstedchamber.com or comment it on the Winsted Chamber of Commerce Facebook page.

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Lester Prairie cancels summer baseball and softball seasons

Among the uncertainties of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Lester Prairie Youth Baseball and Softball Association announced they will be playing it safe this summer. Director Jeff Engen announced that the league will be canceling the 2020 season to keep kids and the community safe.

“After a lot of careful thought and multiple conversations with other community directors and some parents, I have made the decision to forego the 2020 baseball, softball, and T-ball seasons for Lester Prairie,” Engen said. “There are just too many unknowns at this point and I have always errored on the side of caution when it comes to the safety of our kids.  Several other communities in our area have made the same decision.  I am hoping that even if you don’t agree with this decision, you do understand.  I will begin the process of sending out refunds for all registered players but that may take a couple weeks so please be patient.  We will hopefully be past all this and can resume with some type of normalcy in the spring of 2021.”

 

TEE IT UP: Golf courses cleared for opening during COVID-19 pandemic

As the weather has turned, Minnesotans have been itching to get outside. While there hasn’t been an abundance of options for activities, that changed in a big way as Gov. Tim Walz announced at his press conference last Friday that golf courses have been given the OK to open while implementing extra safety precautions.

“It’s important for us to stay active and enjoy the outdoors while preventing the spread of COVID-19,” Gov. Walz stated in his executive order. “This measure will allow Minnesotans to take advantage of more opportunities to get outside while doing their part to keep their neighbors healthy.”

At Albion Ridges Golf Course in Annandale, more than 300 golfers got out and played this past weekend. While the course was filled all weekend long, clubhouse manager Derek White said things went smoothly with the new changes and regulations.

“Our number one thing was safety,” White said. “If we’re going to open our doors for business that we’re able to do that safely is key. Player safety is number one for us. I felt like we were able to accomplish that based on the procedures that we had in place. The way we had it set up was effective and safe.”

Among the precautions that Albion Ridges took this past weekend was to widen the tee boxes to give the players more room to social distance themselves. Albion Ridges also raised the cups a few inches above the ground to eliminate the ball falling into the cup which drastically would eliminate a point of contact with the pin.

“Nobody is reaching in the hole,” White said. “We thought by elevating it, it would completely eliminate the chances for any possibility of the ball staying in the hole. It was very effective to have the ball release away from the cup. The flagsticks were also kept in, and all golfers were instructed that the most stern rule of the day was to never touch the flagstick. There was no need to do so with the raised cups. We eliminated that potential issue just by raising the cups.”

Albion Ridges also increased their tee time intervals. Instead of eight minutes between groups, Albion Ridges is now using 12 minutes intervals between tee times to help keep groups more spaced out on the course. While a big interval means fewer tee times, Albion Ridges has the luxury of being a 27-hole course, which allows more groups to get on the course while still taking social distancing seriously.

“Yes we have fewer tee times, but it’s safer,” White said. “People are more spread out. You’re not having any groups run into each other whatsoever. Getting that extra time between groups enables that tee box to sit empty for two or three minutes if need be. It’s just to space people out even more. That, and having 27 holes is a no brainer. We’re able to spread them out. We’re not only able to move more players through, but we’re able to do so safely.”

White and his staff have also made the tough choice to keep the driving range closed for now. They hope to make it available once they get a safe plan in action in the coming days.

“At this point, we have eliminated the driving range until we feel that we have a 100 percent safe and effective procedure and policy in place with that,” White said. “It’s not something we’re willing to rush in order to sacrifice player safety. We do have the putting greens open, but the driving range is in the process of getting there. We’re going to take things slow. We’re going to do things right. If we can’t do it safely, we’re not going to offer it then. We think their player safety is more important than they do.”

ShadowBrooke Golf Course in Lester Prairie also had a busy weekend as they were reopening since being forced to close due to COVID-19. Owner Tom Schmidt said it was good to be open again as they were busy all weekend long and golfers were following the guidelines in place.

“I found golfers to be very respectful of the rules,” Schmidt said. “It was the first hooray. I’m thankful we were able to be open. We’re making lots of changes to make it easier for golfers.”

While all golf courses around the area are glad to be open by taking extra precautions, there’s a sense of enjoyment as well for the golfers coming to play to get away from things for a bit.

“I think the vast majority of people were just happy to get out,” White said. “It was good to see people out there. So many people were so happy to have some sort of outdoor activity that can be safely regulated. People were happy, and that was something I haven’t heard in people’s voices or seen in their faces before. That to me was the best part of the day.”

The following is a look at new rules and regulations for area courses suggested by Gov. Walz.

Before arriving at the course

• If you are sick or are feeling sick do not come to the golf course.

Upon arrival to the course

• Please arrive no more than 20 minutes before your tee time.

• The CDC requirement for social distancing of at least 6 feet will be enforced throughout the property.

• When you arrive at the course, CALL the pro shop to check-in.

On the golf course

• Ball washers, benches, rakes have been removed.

• All cups have been raised so the golf ball will not fall into the hole. A ball striking the elevated cup liner will be considered holed.

• Please do not pick up your playing partner’s clubs or ball during the round.

• We ask that you forego the traditional post-round handshake.

Practice facilities

• Putting green is open but please keep 6+ feet distancing.

• CDC recommendation on social distancing will be in effect on the driving range with dividers which will limit the number of stations.

• Range balls are cleaned between uses by golfers.

AMATEUR BASEBALL: CRVL All-Decade Team to be announced

With the current state of amateur baseball unclear, KGLB and Herald Journal are teaming up to bring amateur baseball fans a Crow River Valley League All-Decade Team. KGLB general manager Jeremy Stender, Herald Journal Sports Editor Kip Kovar, along with Chris Damman and Josh Monahan will be releasing the 30 players selected to the CRVL All-Decade Team Sunday, May 10 at 4 p.m. live on AM 1310 and FM 96.1.

For more information, check out crvlbaseball.com.