Archive for Sports

Youth football begins Sept. 6

Register now for Youth Football. Equipment handout for Tackle Football (grades 5-6) is
Monday, Aug. 29, 6:30-7:30pm in the HS West Gym for those pre-registered. Practices begin
the first day of school, Tuesday, Sept. 6 and run through Oct. 11, 5:30-7 pm.
Saturday games are Sept. 10 – Oct. 15, 10 am – noon for grades 5-6.
Flag Football, for grades 3-4, is Saturdays only, Sept. 10 – Oct. 15, 9-10:30 am. Participants in both programs may also sign up for the Kick-Pass-Punt FREE event September 26. Volunteer coaches are needed for both programs; please contact Community Education if you are interested.
Register by calling the Dassel-Cokato Community Education office at 320-286- 4120 or register
online at

State modified and Hollywood volleyball playoff bracket

Attached below are the brackets for the modified state softball tournament held at Hollywood and New Germany, as well as the Hollywood Sports Complex league playoff bracket.

2016 VOLLEYBALL PLAYOFFS12016 - Mens Modified Pitch

‘A Legend in Delano’ (from the March 12, 2007, edition of the Delano Herald Journal)


March 12, 2007



By Matt Kane
Sports Editor

Stand next to Tim Zabel on the sideline just before the start of any sporting event in Delano and you will hear something.

His voice.

One won’t confuse Zabel’s vocal performance with that of Whitney Houston’s at Super Bowl XXV — he often apologizes for his performance — but, like Houston did, Zabel puts everything he can into his singing of the national anthem.

“We can definitely hear him,” said Delano High School senior Eric Sandberg, a defenseman on the hockey team. “At that last Hutchinson game, he was really belting it out.”

Zabel’s dedication to his country’s song coincides with his dedication to the Delano athletic teams he works with, immediately following The Star-Spangled Banner.

In the fall, it’s football. In the winter, it’s boys’ hockey. In the spring, it’s baseball. And, in the summer, it’s Delano Athletics baseball.

“It started with Pav in 1979,” the 41-year-old Zabel explained. “I was in seventh-grade, and I started as a ball boy.”

“Pav” is Delano Athletic Director Merrill Pavlovich, who was the Tigers’ head football coach when Zabel was busy bussing footballs to the on-field officials, and still is today, with Zabel patrolling the sideline next to him.

“He’s as much a part of Delano football as anything,” Pavlovich said. “When we meet the opposing coaches and refs at midfield, they always ask how long he has been here. Tim always says ‘too long.’”

Zabel doesn’t transport footballs anymore. He played in eighth and ninth grade, and as a sophomore in high school, he became the football team’s student manager, a position he held until his graduation in 1985.

Zabel moved from Delano to Cokato in 1987, and then lived in Buffalo for 10 years. He returned to Delano in 1999, reunited with Pavlovich, and took over his old position with the football team.

“I’m kind of like the manager, slash, coach,” Zabel said of his position.

His duties include everything from keeping statistics to filling up the water bottles. The responsibilities seem simple, but Zabel found out, as a sophomore, how important the position is. He remembers when the latter of the two responsibilities earned him a vintage tongue lashing from the head coach.

“He chewed me out my sophomore year,” Zabel recalled as if it were last Friday night’s game. “Against Waconia, I forgot to get water out there, and he let me have it.”

Pavlovich said he warned Zabel early to get his work done.

“When he was in fifth grade, he always hung around me,” Pavlovich explained. I told him, ‘If you don’t do your work, you can’t come around on Friday.’”

Zabel learned his lesson, and now has a plan when Pavlovich gets hot.

“When he’s mad, I will stand in the other corner,” Zabel said.

Pavlovich’s name comes up a lot when talking to Zabel. The football coach has been the one constant male figure in Zabel’s life since they first started working with each other.

“Pav is like my second dad, really,” Zabel said.

The praise for Pavlovich for taking Zabel under his wing doesn’t stop with Zabel.

“He has such an admiration for Merrill Pavlovich — I can’t tell you how much he admires him. As do I,” Zabel’s mother, Nancy Zabel, said. “Mr. Pavlovich has been with Tim since Tim was in fifth grade. He has always taken the attention for Tim, and always gone out of his way. To Tim, Mr. Pavlovich is ‘the man.’

“Tim has always felt he could go to Pav.”

Zabel’s parents, Nancy and Tom, divorced when he was a junior in high school, and he lived with his mother after the split until graduation. Zabel moved to Cokato to a group home to earn his independence, then went to Buffalo for 10 years, and has live at The Dells in Delano since 1999.

While his biological family broke apart, Zabel was never far from a Delano family.

“To our team, he is like family,” Pavlovich said. “Tim is always welcome in our house, and the kids (on the team) are accepting of that. That says a lot about the 17- and 18-year-old kids.”

Zabel’s fondness for Pavlovich began on the football field, but Zabel has never forgotten an incident that took place off the field.

“I have a bit of a learning disability, and teachers wanted to change how I looked and acted,” Zabel remembers. “Pav said, ‘There’s nothing wrong with the kid.’ He liked the way I was. That has always stuck with me.”

Zabel was born with brain damage that has affected his learning and limited his physical ability. His condition is a disability by definition, but you can throw the dictionary out the window when it comes to Zabel.

He may not drive, but that rarely stops him from getting to the field, diamond, or rink, which are all within walking distance of his home on Elm Street. Zabel also works full time at Functional Industries in Buffalo.

Nancy Zabel said her son was frustrated at an early age because he couldn’t do everything his peers were doing.

“He would say to me, ‘Why do I have to be like this; why can’t I throw the ball or hit it?’

“I would say, ‘You were specially chosen to set an example to other children. Even if you have a handicap, you can contribute to community.’ He’s always held on to that, and I am extremely proud of him.”

Zabel has since lived by his mother’s words, and he has a direct influence on the teams he helps.

In the winter, Zabel’s influence on the hockey team on game days starts well before the puck is dropped or a single note of the national anthem is sung.

“Before each hockey game, he does the team prayer,” Sandberg explained. “He asks for everybody to be safe and to play to the best of their abilities. That’s what he highlights.”

Varsity hockey coach Steve Brown explained further.

“Tim does lead the team in pre-game prayer and has been doing so for many years. Like a lot of traditions, I have no idea how it started,” Brown said. “Tim has been a part of the hockey program for about eight or nine years. Tim would come to the rink, watch practice, and fill water bottles. One day we had Tim come out in boots for a showdown with one of our goaltenders. Tim scored, and the team celebrated around him. Ever since, he has been a big part of our Tiger hockey program.”

During football season, the fate of how the players will end each practice rests on the broad shoulders of Zabel.

“We leave it up to Zabel to make a field goal on whether we run Beckers or not,” Sandberg said, referring to end of practice conditioning. “He’s pretty good at kicking field goals.”

Zabel grew up playing sports as a kid, and his passion for baseball, football, and ice hockey have stayed with him through adulthood.

“It has been his life since he was a small boy — since he began watching football games on TV,” Nancy Zabel said.

The love for all things sports was passed on to Zabel through his genes.

“It was bred into me from the beginning,” Zabel said. “My dad was a basketball captain in 1960 and ‘61, and now, my nieces and nephews have it in their blood.”

When he’s not on the sidelines or in the dugout, Zabel still has his mind on sports.

Sitting on an end table next to the television in his living room is a pile of black VHS tapes with professional and college games recorded on the miles of tape. For a hobby, Zabel watches the recorded games, and records the statistics in a score book.

The oldest of three, Zabel was the typical kid, playing youth baseball and basketball in the Delano area. He said he never played hockey, but has always been a fan of the game.

“I always liked it. I couldn’t play because I couldn’t skate,” Zabel said. “Dad wanted me to play basketball in high school, so I never played hockey.”

In the spring, Zabel was an outfielder on the baseball team. One of his fondest moments is as a 9-year-old when his Mickey Mantle baseball team played in the 1982 state tournament in Delano.

“We rode in the Fourth of July parade to promote it, and Ray Christensen was the grand marshal,” explained Zabel. “The atmosphere (during the tournament) was great. We played under the lights.”

Wearing a Delano hat with the overlapping “D” and “T,” a football sweatshirt from the Tigers’ 2003 state tournament appearance, and a blue-ribboned medal from the baseball team’s 2004 section championship, Zabel recalled other events from the past.

He remembers when the 1988 Delano Athletics team he was on won the state amateur baseball championship, the football team upsetting Watertown-Mayer 27-20 in double overtime in 1984, and the football team’s second place finish at state in 2003.

“That’s a moment I won’t forget, playing in the Metrodome,” Zabel said of the football team at state. “In the semifinal game against Crookston, I nearly fainted when I walked onto the field. When we played Glencoe-Silver Lake (in the final), it was exciting for the whole team.

“I got on TV seven times.”

Memories like this are plentiful in Zabel’s head, and many of them are proven true by the collage of photos and newspaper clippings that decorate his bedroom walls, some from his own playing days and others from the teams he has helped coach.

In many of the photos, the players on the respective teams featured are celebrating victories. One photo shows the 2006 football team hoisting its Section 4AAA championship trophy this past Nov. 3 after defeating St. Anthony Village 6-3.

It was at that game that the players and coaches on the team showed Zabel how they really feel about him by presenting him the trophy.

“That was pretty emotional, he liked that a lot,” Sandberg said.

It was the second time Zabel’s emotions came out over a trophy. The first time was in 2003 when the football team returned to Delano from the state tournament run.

“I got the honor of bringing in the trophy to the gymnasium, with tears rolling down my eyes,” he explained. “It was the same year my Grandma Zabel died. I was close to her.”

Pavlovich explained the trophy presentation.

“The guys gave me the trophy, and I said, ‘That’s your trophy.’ I said, ‘Only one guy carries the trophy,’ and they gave it to Zabs,” the coach explained. “It is important to recognize people like Tim Zabel. I don’t think there is a better role model than Tim.

“We’ve always been there for Tim because he’s always been there for us.”

Zabel could probably recite everything that happened at the 2003 state tournament, as well as all the other events memorialized by his wall of newspaper clippings.

“It’s tough to stump him on anything athletic,” said Pavlovich. “He is Rain Man. He will tell you the score from 1982 and who scored the touchdowns.”

Zabel’s memory for sports and music is well-known.

“Tim is our connection to the past traditions of Delano. He loves to tell stories of his youth,” Delano varsity baseball coach Dan Paulson said. “He is great to have around because he has a passion for the community of Delano, the Delano schools, and Delano sports — especially football, baseball, and hockey. He has a tremendous amount of respect for the coaches, their staffs, and the games.”

And Zabel has a memory like a steel vault.

“He remembers everything,” Paulson said. “Kids love to quiz him on Delano players, stats, and games.”

Sandberg is one of those players. He is a member of all three teams Zabel helps — football, hockey, and baseball — and echoes Paulson’s take on Zabel’s ability to recall past games and statistics.

“His love for sports is like no other. Sports consumes a big part of his life, and his love for sports rubs off on other people,” Sandberg said. “We love having him around. His memory of Delano stats and Twins stats is amazing.”

Paulson and Zabel have worked together since 1999, but the baseball coach says their relationship dates back well before they became colleagues.

“I remember him from my playing years in St. Michael-Albertville, back in the ‘80s,” Paulson said.

It’s obvious the players and coaches love having Zabel around, and the reverse is true, as well.

“It’s great to be around, everybody jokes around,” he said of athletics. “We are serious, but we can have fun.”

Zabel is also serious about attending every game, and is apologetic when he can’t make a bus trip.

“He e-mails me when he can’t make a game, and one day, the e-mail was one continuous sentence. It was an apology to me and the team that he couldn’t be there,” said Pavlovich, who read the message to his football team, telling the players, “‘He doesn’t get paid to be here, but he loves to be here, and he loves you guys.’”

And the reverse is true, as well.

“It’s amazing what he does and how committed he is,” Sandberg said. “He’s just a legend in Delano.”

It’s the people, and the parks, that sets amateur baseball apart

Take a drive down any highway, county road, or even sometimes a back road, and you’re bound to run into something that Minnesotans hold dear. No, it’s not one of the tens of thousands of lakes we have. It’s something that holds a special place in each community for all those who attend and play there.

Amateur baseball is a special thing. Those fields all across the state that amateur teams take a few times each week during the summer are something special entirely on their own. It seems like no matter what direction you go, you’re bound to run into a beautiful baseball field with an even better story behind it.

Todd Mueller, author of “Town Ball Parks of Minnesota”, did an incredible job capturing stunning photos, as well as sharing intimate stories that make these ballparks so special.

Mueller travels across the state to be able to feature some of the state’s best ballparks and stories. He features ballparks from Arlington and Belle Plaine, to New Ulm, Hinckley, Marshall, and Rochester.

Each park featured has great stories shared, along with breath-taking photos.

Mueller features 27 different ballparks in his book, and although there are more than 300 amateur teams in the state of Minnesota, even the ones not featured have their own special story and place in aspect of amateur baseball.

Minnesota is often referred to as the “State of Hockey”, but there really is nothing like taking in an amateur baseball game on a summer night. The beauty of amateur baseball, and what makes it so special, is how it brings people together, and lets grown men run around the bases a few times a week and play for the love of the game.

Amateur baseball also goes beyond the players. Behind every gorgeous field around the state, is a person or community that takes charge of making sure each blade of grass is perfect, and the chalk line is as straight as an arrow down the first and third base line. The time, resources, and work put into fields all across the state is something to take pride in.

Each ballpark around the state is a reflection of that team and that community. Each one has a story and a history that can be shared among others who love the game.

One of my favorite stories I was lucky enough to learn about an amateur ballpark during my time working in Sleepy Eye was how one of the best baseball players ever decided to come to the small town of Sleepy Eye to play a baseball game. Yep, the Great Bambino himself, Babe Ruth, came to Sleepy Eye in 1922 to play a game during a barnstorming tour with fellow Yankee teammate Bob Meusel.

Ruth and Meusel played a pickup game with players from southwestern Minnesota on the same field that stands today in Sleepy Eye. Ruth hit two home runs that game at the Sleepy Eye Ball Park, and even to this day, everyone remembers the day Babe Ruth came to town and played on that field.

Babe Ruth’s visit to Sleepy Eye isn’t the only time amateur teams or their fields have been recognized. When Target Field opened up back in 2010, one of the more interesting aspects of the new stadium was the new Town Ball Tavern, which pays homage to the beautiful thing that is amateur baseball.

Inside the tavern features photos and memorabilia from town teams all across the state. Even the state tournament champions are honored each and every year in the tavern. It’s pretty cool for the Twins, a professional ball club at the highest level, to recognize how big of a thing amateur baseball is in this state, and how much it means to the players and the towns. They even host the Town Ball Classic at Target Field, which allows two team from each class to play a game at Target Field.

It’s an honor for those teams to get the chance to play in a Major League stadium, but ask anyone and there’s nothing like being able to play the game you love, on the field that you call home and can truly call your own.

Amateur baseball is an amazing thing, but it’s the people, and their parks that they can call home and their own, that makes it stand alone.

Saints Field 30 years in the making


Sports Editor

As the DC Saints and manager Mark “Whitey” Forsman get set to host the 2016 Minnesota Amateur Baseball State Tournament, I have two memories about Saints Field I’d like to share.

The first shows just how far the field has come from days gone by.

The second shows how it got here.

• I grew up in Dassel. As a young, sports-loving boy, the Saints were a big part of my life. I’d go to as many games as I could.

Back then, there was no electronic scoreboard, just a board down the right field line where the numbers got put up by hand. If you got there early enough, you might be one of the lucky kids who got to hang them up.

There was a dirt infield, saggy wooden bleachers, and an uneven and treacherous outfield. Put generously, it was kind of a dump.

So dumpy, in fact, that after a big rain there would be massive, knee-high puddles in the dips in the outfield. One of my fondest childhood memories is sliding and diving through those outfield puddles with Vince and Nick Corbin, who lived next door to the field.

• By the time I was old enough to play for the Saints in the late 90s and early 2000s, Whitey had already started to make some of the improvements you see today.

The outfield had been evened out, the infield was now grass, an electronic scoreboard and PA booth had been added, and the grounds were manicured. While it still had old bleachers, it wasn’t  a dumpy field any more. It was on its way to being a ballpark.

Whitey expected his players to help maintain and improve the field. No matter if they were starters or bench players, as I found out.

One afternoon before a game, Whitey held a fieldwork day. I blew it off. I think my girlfriend (now my wife) was in town or something. Or maybe I was just lazy.

At the time, I was in the midst of my best Saints season ever, hitting in the leadoff slot and playing every game.

When I came to the field for the game later that day, my name wasn’t on the lineup card.

I don’t remember if Whitey said anything to me or not, but he didn’t have to. The message was clear. If you’re on this team, you help with the field.

I didn’t miss any fieldwork days after that.

• I left Minnesota for Michigan’s Upper Peninsula in 2004, and lived there for seven years.

I continued playing ball, in a six-team league called the “Twilight League.” It was thusly named because none of the fields had lights, so the games had to be finished by twilight.

Most of the teams were named after bars.

Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed playing. It was baseball, after all. But nothing makes you appreciate our area ballparks like playing on a Twilight League field. I was nearly decapitated one game playing third base, when a sharp one-hopper hit a rock and caromed off my melon.

When I returned to Minnesota in 2011, Saints Field had transformed from a nice field into the gem it now is – immaculate, expansive, gorgeous.

I tried explaining to my sons the other day, as they accompanied me to yet another game in Dassel, how special Saints Field is.

“Boys, this is one of the best ballparks in the whole state of Minnesota. You guys should feel lucky you get to come here all the time,” I said.

My boys are eight and nine years old. They’re good kids, their teachers tell me, but they have no frame of reference because they’re eight and nine, and are too young to remember Dad playing at rocky Toivola field.

So their replies of, “really? Cool” and other vague murmurings – instead of the reverence I was hoping for – was understandable, I suppose.

To them, it was just the ballpark in Dassel, a normal place they go to watch games with Dad.

They don’t really get it.

Some of you might not either.

Whitey has spent the last 30 years turning a dumpy field into something truly remarkable for our community.

In a recent interview, Whitey talked about the mechanisms and motivations for building the park.

First off, he emphasized, it was never just him. Throughout the years, he’s had help from players and volunteers, donors (an anonymous donor has donated $25,000 in each of the last five years), the city of Dassel, and many others.

Secondly, it was never for personal recognition. I can attest to the fact that he is reticent and reserved in talking to reporters.

(I think the only reason he talked to me is because I used to be one of his players, and thus he half-trusted me).

But the bottom line is that Whitey built this ballpark for the community, and the kids. Kids like my own boys.

“Our kids should have a nice park to play baseball, in all levels,” he said. “This is the reason why we do it.”

On behalf of past, present, and future baseball players, I say: thank you, Whitey.

Saints Field will be on full display, in all its glory, over the next three weekends. 

I highly encourage you to come visit one of the best ballparks in the state, and experience the epitome of the Minnesota townball.

Wildcats set to open up state tournament run Friday night

WINSTED – The Winsted Wildcats will face the Roseau Royals in their first game of the Class C State Tournament. The Wildcats on Royals will Friday, August 19 in Hutchinson at 7:30 p.m.

The Wildcats earned the No. 3 seed in Region 2C. They drafted pitchers Pat Tschida and Justin Kohls from Watertown. With their last draft pick, the Wildcats selected Jackson Schnetttler from Hamburg.

The Royals come from Region 10 and earned the No. 2 seed in that region. They Royals post a 13-6 record so far this season.

Can’t make it to the game and want to stay updated on the Wildcats? Follow Kip Kovar on Twitter for live updates throughout the game.

Twitter: @Kovar_HJSports

Attached below is the complete Class C bracket.