Archive for DEL Sports

KIP KOVAR: Amateur baseball and its parks never cease to amaze

Amateur baseball has always held a special place in the heart of Minnesotans. Whether you’re a father or mother of a ball player, a player yourself, or even just a local townie who just can’t get enough of watching the hometown nine, it holds a special place in our hearts.

The state amateur baseball tournament brings that all together, and it seemingly never gets old. As teams and fans come from all over the state to see some high-quality baseball, it’s the gorgeous parks the games are played at that sometimes go unnoticed.

Amateur baseball, and the Crow River Valley League in particular, never ceases to disappoint with countless beautiful ballparks just waiting to be enjoyed. Just ask Ryan Simonson and Marty Lambrecht of Minneapolis, better known as Ryno and Marty from the popular-growing Town Ball Tuesdays.

Green Isle will be on of three hosts for the 2017 Amateur State Tournament.  "The Yard" not only is a magnificent field for playing on, but also offers several different viewing angles for fans to enjoy.

Green Isle will be on of three hosts for the 2017 Amateur State Tournament. “The Yard” not only is a magnificent field for playing on, but also offers several different viewing angles for fans to enjoy.

Ryno and Marty, who have been friends for years, came up with the idea of Town Ball Tuesdays after discovering a love for small-town baseball. What started as an idea, quickly has Marty and Ryno running all around the state and getting requests from teams to come check out their parks at a constant rate.

“Marty and I have been friends for years,” Ryno said. “I’m a lifelong ballplayer and general baseball nut. We’ve done some camping and road trips together over the years, and we’ve always loved small towns and their great little bars and unique culture. When I got him (Marty) out to a town ball game, I think he started to get my passion for baseball a bit more.”

What started as just visiting parks and taking in games, grew to more as they wanted to be able to document their visits, and share their travels with people who love amateur baseball as much as they do.

“Eventually, we got to a point where we wanted to find a way to document and share our little stories about the parks, and the people, and Town Ball Tuesdays was born,” Marty said. “For me, there’s something kind of magical about the way these communities support baseball beyond just youth sports. It’s a sort of local pride and entertainment that came out in the 1800s, and for some reason, never died in Minnesota. I grew up primarily in Michigan, where there’s nothing like this at all. It’s beautiful to roll into a little town that is basically made up of a church, a cemetery, a bar, and an immaculately-cared-for baseball stadium.”

Amateur baseball hasn’t always been a major role in the lives of the creators of Town Ball Tuesdays, but since taking off, it’s become a family affair, as well.

“I’ve always been fortunate enough to bring my mom along sometimes,” Marty said. “She grew up going to games in all these same towns in her youth, and it’s great to hear her stories and learn how much it meant to her and her family. To have this town ball tradition right under my nose and to have no knowledge of it is a shame. If I can do anything to help spread the word and love of the game, I’m all for it. It’s such a treasure, that I feel is grossly under appreciated.”

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Hamburg is another one of the sites for the 2017 Amateur State Tournament. Hamburg offers a great setup for a hardcore or casual fan to enjoy a game.

Tuesdays were the night of choice for Ryno and Marty, as Tuesday is Marty’s night off from bartending. With the CRVL playing a multitude of Tuesday night games, the CRVL has become a favorite of the traveling duo.

“The CRVL is great because there tend to be a good number of games scheduled on Tuesday nights,” Ryno said. “All the parks are close enough to get out to for use, and the league boasts some of our favorite ballparks in the state.”

As far as their favorite park in the CRVL, well, that’s too tough of a decision to make based on the quality choices.

“That’s a tough call,” Ryno said. “I have sentimental attachment to Cologne, as Jason Kuerschner was one of the first people to really support what we’re doing with Town Ball Tuesdays and really make us feel welcome when we were just getting started. Young America’s park is really fun to be at. It’s so unique with its quirky little European village architecture. Add in the cozy dimensions, the home plate that’s so close to the grandstand that you can pick the umpire’s back pocket, you’ve really got just about everything we love in one package. Waconia has done such a great job with their overhaul, and Watertown, Brownton, and Glencoe all have amazing yards. Green Isle and Hamburg have really stepped up prepping for the tourney.”

“I can’t make that call as I still have a few yet to see,” Marty said. “I truly seem to find things to enjoy about each park. That’s the beauty in this. They’re all so unique in charmingly, subtle ways. The fun is in finding out what’s what, and taking in all the great viewing angles.”

The regular season has just been a warm-up for the Town Ball Tuesday crew. With the 2017 Minnesota Amatuer State Tournament being held in some of their favorite parks, you can count on Marty and Ryno to be out enjoying the game we all love and sharing their experiences.

“We’ll definitely be floating around during the tourney as much as possible,” Ryno said. “Last summer was our first covering the tournament as Town Ball Tuesdays, and we had a blast. Dassel, Hutchinson, and Litchfield really pulled out all the stops to make it a great tournament, and we got to meet so many wonderful people from all over the state, some of whom already knew about us.”

“As the tournament draws nearer, my excitement grows,” Marty said. “The atmosphere definitely swells to a fever pitch. All three of these towns are making painstaking efforts to put their best foot forward.”

You can follow Ryno and Marty on their adventures via their Twitter or blog.

Twitter: @TownBallTuesday

KOVAR: Don’t make the same mistake, MSHSL

The world of sports is always changing. Whether it’s the way a game is played, how it is scored, or how it is viewed, changes are always happening.  Despite the popular thought that change is a positive, that’s not always true.

Last week, the Wisconsin Interscholastic Athletic Association made one of the biggest mistakes when it comes to high school basketball. Starting in the 2019-2020 basketball season, athletes in Wisconsin will be playing the game of basketball with a shot clock. This is a huge mistake.

The idea of adding a shot clock to the high school game has been a hot topic around the state, and around the nation, for that matter. All it takes is for one game to have a team stall for the discussion to come up again. What people don’t understand is that it takes two teams to stall.

If a team with the lead late in the game decides to hold the ball for a bit, so what? Come out and guard them. If the other team decides to sit back in a zone or not pressure the ball, that’s their problem. It takes just as much skill to play keep away from pressure defense as it does to score. If a team can hold the ball while facing pressure defense for an extended period of time, that’s the sign of a well-coached team that knows how to work together. It’s not a lame style of basketball to play. If your opponent is holding the ball well outside the 3-point line, go and play defense and get the ball. Don’t just whine about it.

While many people tend to be in favor of adding a shot clock for the reason that it will make games more exciting, I couldn’t disagree more. Sure, there are some games from time to time where a team with the lead hesitates to score at a pace that they usually do. Yes, a shot clock would force those teams to keep playing at a pace that is more up-tempo for the final minutes, but what about the other 30-35 minutes?

People who are in favor of adding a shot clock to the high school game argue that it will make games more exciting, while in reality, shot clocks make the game less exciting.

By adding a shot clock, you are completely eliminating a style of play in the game of basketball. There’s nothing wrong with a team that likes to run up and down the court and get as many shots as possible. There’s nothing wrong with a team that likes to be balanced when it comes to tempo. There is also nothing wrong with a team that likes to play slow and make sure they get quality possessions and shots each and every time down the court.

By adding a shot clock, you’re eliminating a complete style of how to play the game of basketball.

In my short career as a sports editor so far, I’ve had the pleasure and opportunity to cover high school basketball all around Minnesota, and Wisconsin somewhat, as well. The best part about that is seeing all the different styles in whichthe game is played.

During my time at the Winona Daily News as a part-time sports writer during my senior year at Winona State University, I got the chance to cover some teams in Wisconsin, as well as other southeastern Minnesota schools. Even in just the Winona Daily News’ coverage area, there were plenty of different styles being played.

There was Winona Senior High School, which had the bodies and skilled athletes to play an up-tempo style. There was the St. Charles Saints, which had a balanced attack of being aggressive and being patient for a good shot. And then there was the Rushford-Peterson Trojans, which are arguably coached by one of the best coaches in the state in Tom Vix. The Trojans have been of the top teams in Class A (they also won the state championship in 2015).

The Trojans play a slow pace on offense, and make the defense work while hardly taking rushed or bad shots. There’s nothing wrong with that style of play. It’s how they want to play and that’s the beauty of high school basketball.

Most of the games played by the Trojans have scores around the 50s or 60s, and there’s nothing wrong with that.

By adding a shot clock to the game of high school basketball, you are completely eliminating Rushford-Peterson’s style of play – a style of play that has them respected as one the best teams in Class A the last decade or so.

Following my time in Winona, I headed west to the small town of Sleepy Eye. During my year in Sleepy Eye, I was amazed at how the style of basketball was different than what I played in high school, and what I covered in Winona.

Not only does the concept of adding a shot clock affect the styles of basketball being played, it also affects school districts and communities, as well. The truth is, shot clocks are not cheap to install. Depending on which scoreboards teams have in their gyms currently, adding a shot clock could run anywhere from $5,000 to $20,000. Not only does installing a shot clock cost money, but a qualified person must be able to run it, and most likely be paid to run it, as well. Also, some hoops may not even be able to support a shot clock, which begs the question, where are these shot clocks going to be displayed?

Yes, some schools will be able to afford installing a shot clock with no problem. In fact, there are some high schools around the state that already have shot clocks.

But what about the small schools that struggle to make budgets meet? What about the school that barely have enough money to put a basketball program out on the court, or even have a gym?

In today’s day and age, I feel we’re always looking how we can improve things or make things better. We constantly evaluate how we can add things to make it more exciting, while losing sight of what’s really in front of us. The fact is, high school basketball isn’t broken. So, let’s not fix it.

This isn’t the National Basketball Association. This isn’t the National Collegiate Athletic Association, and this isn’t professional basketball overseas.

The number of kids who will play basketball at the collegiate level or professional level is miniscule compared to why high school basketball is so great. High school basketball is not a training camp or minor league system for colleges and pro teams. It’s about the kids, the school, and the community enjoying the sport they love.

There’s nothing wrong with high school basketball. Let’s keep it that way. I sincerely hope that the Minnesota State High School league doesn’t make the same mistake the WIAA just did.

Whether you are for or against adding a shot clock at the high school basketball level, let’s not lose sight of why we love the game at this level, and the reason behind that love.

Crow River Valley League looking for Hall of Fame board members

On behalf of the Crow River Valley League, I am writing this open letter to all our fans, past players, current players, past officers and other baseball enthusiasts.

Since the fall of 2016 the league members and officers have begun the discussion of starting a Crow River Valley League Hall of Fame.  We have some initial ideas, about some things to do and incorporate.

However, the purpose of this letter is to find out what you fans, past players, former officers and baseball enthusiasts have to say.

The league is looking for people interested in being a part of the inaugural board to get this thing off the ground and going.  We are looking for motivated individuals interested in being included in this new venture for our league.

If this is something that you would be interested in being involved with please contact your local teams Manager or the CRVL Sec/Treas Jason Kuerschner at 612-598-4820 or via email at colohollander10@yahoo.com.

We are looking to put together a standalone committee/board by the fall of 2017, and have our first induction class ready by no earlier than the 2019 season.

We have a lot to do between now and then, but with your support and ideas we feel that this can be a great way to showcase the history of the Crow River Valley League.

Thank you for your interest in this league venture.  Please don’t wait for someone to ask you to be a part of this committee, contact your team’s manager or the Sec/Treas today and offer your talents to this committee.

Sincerely,

Jason A. Kuerschner

CRVL Sec/Treas

Ron Baumann Memorial Baseball Clinic a big success

The Fourth Annual Ron Baumann Memorial Baseball Clinic took place on Sunday, May 21 from 2-5 PM at Barrett Field in Winsted. Despite the cooler temperatures the clinic hit an all time high with 72 players attending. This year we had players from Winsted, Howard Lake, Watertown, Lester Prairie, Maple Lake and Annandale. The clinic was separated into 2 different ages groups with Session 1 being for boys and girls ages 6-9 and session 2 for players ages 10-12. The clinic covered pitching/throwing, hitting, infield work and outfield footwork and the older group ended their session with a competitive but FUN game.
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 The clinic is held in honor of Ron Baumann, who had a  passion for playing both baseball and softball. When his  playing days came to an end, he stayed involved in the  game by becoming an umpire and umpired numerous,  high school, summer league games and many MSF and  ASA state tournaments. Ron passed away in June 2013  after a courageous battle with Leukemia. He passed his  passion and love for the game on to his four boys and in  his honor this clinic was established as a way to give back  to the community and honor his love for the game.DSCN3446
 The clinic would not be possible without the help of the  wonderful coaches that assisted with the different stations:  Caleb Marconett, Nathan Granum, Derek Gagner, Ken  Tufte, Tim Baumann, Nate Baumann, Nicole Baumann,  and Corbyn Stender. Each player who participated in the  clinic received a T-shirt, cookie, and bottle of water. We  would also like to thank our sponsors, B & B Tire and Auto  for their donation of the bottled water, Twisted Piston  for doing a great job on the shirts. B’s on the River,  Jacque B’s and Rivers Edge Golf Course for there donation as well. A big thank you to Shirley Baumann, Janessa Baumann for helping with the cookies, Lisa Baumann helping hand out and take shirt sizes, and Hailey and Brooke Baumann for taking several clinic pictures.
Submitted by Rick Baumann

UNBREAKABLE: Gavin Kritzeck’s leadership, resiliency an inspiration to all

HOWARD LAKE – Gavin Krtizeck’s life changed in an instant. At one point, he was just a teenager who recently got his license. That all changed when he was injured in a car accident shortly before the Section 4A True Team Meet a year ago. Fast forward to today, and the junior sprinter for the Howard Lake-Waverly-Winsted track and field team is back to being one of the team’s top sprinters, and one of the best in the area as well.

Through the accident, the recovery, and the return, Kritzeck was able to rally his team together and work his way back to being a part of the team once again during his junior season. Being able to run, practice, and compete with his teammates is something Gavin has worked hard to accomplish this past year.

After Gavin Kritzeck inspired his team to win the Section True Team meet a year ago, he’s earning the respect and admiration of conference coaches and athletes this year with the way he has recovered from a severe car accident a year ago.

After Gavin Kritzeck inspired his team to win the Section True Team meet a year ago, he’s earning the respect and admiration of conference coaches and athletes this year with the way he has recovered from a severe car accident a year ago.

A WORLD SHAKEN

On the evening of May 7, 2016, the Kritzeck family was shaken. Gavin was in a one-vehicle car accident that evening, and suffered major injuries. Kritzeck was airlifted to Hennepin County Medical Center.

In the accident, Kritzeck suffered a fractured spine which took surgery to repair.  The surgery lasted multiple hours as doctors put screws and pins in his spine to help heal the damage. Kritzeck also suffered other minor injuries, but in the words of the doctors, he was lucky to be alive.

Following the surgery, doctors decided a halo was necessary to keep Gavin’s head still so that his fractured vertebrates in his neck could heal. Other injuries Gavin suffered and had to overcome included fractured ribs, a broken sternum, and a bruised lung.

When Gavin arrived at the hospital, he was unable to feel his legs. According to a post on Gavin’s Caring Bridge page, Gavin’s family said that the neurosurgeon wasn’t sure why the feeling came back to his legs, other than it was a miracle.

With the feeling back in his legs, the recovery for Gavin began.

THE RECOVERY BEGINS

The recovery process for Gavin was slow and painful. Not only was he dealing with major injuries, he was away from the team he wanted to be with so much.

Shortly after the surgery and having his halo added, Gavin began physical therapy. Although physical therapy starter well for him, it wasn’t always easy. The more Gavin did, the more pain he felt the next day.

“It was kind of tough,” Gavin said about completing physical therapy and being patient as he healed. “I knew what I had to do to be able to get back to where I was. That kind of pushed me to work harder.”

A few days later, Gavin began to walk around his bed and around his floor at the hospital. As he began to walk more and more, families and doctors were seeing improvement each and every day.

Eventually, Gavin was released from the hospital, but not before he was an inspiration to his team, his school, and his community.

AN INSPIRATION TO ALL

The next day following Gavin’s surgery, the HLWW track and field team competed in the Section True Team Meet without one of their top sprinters, and without one of their friends.

The team wore orange shirts with the words, “Team Gavin” proudly displayed across them. While Gavin continued to work hard to make a full recovery, his team was thinking of him.

After an emotional practice on Monday when the team heard the news, the Lakers rallied around Gavin as they won the True Team Meet for the first time in school history. They won it for their teammate.

“Honestly, that was one of the most special meets I’ll probably ever have in my career,” Lakers coach Andy Hertwig said. “The emotions of Monday’s practice, where kids were crying, only to come back Tuesday and have personal bests after personal bests. It was honestly so special. There’s no other way to put it. It was so exciting. Not only the team, but the community. Everyone was wearing the orange team Gavin shirts. It was something I’ll never forget.”

“I think that was the main reason we went last year,” teammate and friend Brennan Barth said. “He was our main motivation. It was a big deal.”

After winning the Section True Team Meet, members of the team, along with the trophy, made appearances in Gavin’s room. Despite not being able to be there to support his team, knowing his team was thinking of him meant everything to Gavin.

“It meant a lot to me that they were supporting me,” Gavin said. “It showed me how much they have my back and stuff.”

While still working through physical therapy, Gavin was able to attend the State True Team meet in person as he was able to get away from the hospital for a bit.

“That felt good to be there for them after everything they did for me,” Gavin said about attending the state meet. “I was just glad I could support them.”

THE COMEBACK

Flash forward to today, and Gavin is back as one of the top sprinters on the team, and one of the best in the conference. Although there were struggles and pain along the way, Gavin knew he would be able to get back to the sport he loves.

“Once I got out of the hospital, I knew that eventually that if I worked hard, I’d be able to get back,” Gavin said. “It’s great just to be back. All my teammates make it just a bunch of fun just to be on the team. It felt great to be back and running and everything.”

Not much has changed since Gavin returned to the team this spring. According to coach Hertwig, Gavin continues to show a work effort that is unmatched by anybody.

“It’s funny because he still has that same drive,” Hertwig said about the difference between Gavin before the accident and after. “He worked unbelievably hard last year as a sophomore to put himself in a situation to be All-Conference.  I still see that same drive, but maybe I see just a little bit more of a chip on his shoulder. While he’s racing, or even during a workout, I’ll see just a little bit more of a fight. He’s always been a really hard worker, but I maybe just see it a little more now. In some races, it’s just like, I want this more than you do.”

That extra fight and work Gavin puts in doesn’t go unnoticed. Whether it’s his friends,  teammates, or peers, there was no doubt in their minds that Gavin would be back to his old self.

“The dude is like unbreakable,” Barth said. “That’s what it’s about. Even his spirit and everything he does, you can’t match that. That’s just what he’s about. That’s what has impressed me the most about him.”

“It’s crazy,” teammate and friend Noah Bundrock said. “I don’t understand how he did it. I saw him lifting all throughout the fall and all through spring. It’s pretty crazy.”

While having one of your top sprinters back is always a plus. It’s the friendships, motivation, and leadership that Gavin brings to the table that has his coach and teammates glad he’s back.

“He’s one of my best friends,” Barth said. “It’s cool to hang out with him. It’s nice to have him around and not in the halo, neck brace, and all that stuff. You get to see who he was before.”

“He’s not necessarily the most vocal guy,  but he definitely leads by example,” Hertwig said. “You will see if someone is not doing what they should be doing, he will be quick to get on them and say hey, let’s get going. He knows what it takes to be successful. He’s worked from basically not being able to walk, to would have been All-Conference had he not blown out his hamstring  in the final 10 meters.”

Not only has Gavin earned the respect and affection of his friends and teammates, the conference and area teams have admired him as well, and rightfully so.

“It’s amazing,” Hertwig said. “It really is. I got some emails from opposing coaches too that were just saying so happy to see Gavin back on the track. One coach even said, happy to see him back out on the track, maybe not so happy to see him kicking our butts for the rest of the year. The level of respect he has throughout the conference says what kind of athlete and character he has.”

Gavin came up just short of his ultimate goal of being All-Conference as he blew out his hamstring at the conference meet this past week. That doesn’t mean he’s done though.  He has a chance to be back for the Sub-Section meet coming up May 23. Even with the injury, there’s no doubt that he’ll be working hard to get back to try and help his team.

“Probably the biggest thing, he is the hardest worker,” Hertwig said. “He gets pissed off if he gets beat in any rep. There’s a lot of times where I’ll jump in and do the workouts with him, and he will not let me beat him ever. That just sets the tone right there.”

What ever happens to the Lakers and Gavin at the Sub-Section meet, he’ll know he did everything he could to get back to doing what he loves the most. In the end, it’s the relationships, memories, and fun that Gavin created that mean much more.

“They mean a lot to me,” Gavin said about all the support, memories, and friends he’s had over a crazy past year. “I know that if I ever need anything, they’ll be right there for me.”

 

PREP SPORTS SCHEDULE: Thursday, May 11

Prep sports schedule for Thursday, May 11.

 

CENTRAL MN CONFERENCE – BASEBALL

Eden Valley-Watkins at Paynesville (DH)

HLWW at Holdingford (DH)

Maple Lake at B-B-E (DH)

Kimball at Pierz (DH)

 

MN CHRISTIAN ATHLETIC ASSOCIATION – BASEBALL

West Lutheran at Legacy Christian

Heritage Christian at PACT Charter

St. Croix Prep at Maranatha Christian

SW Christian at LP/HT

 

WRIGHT COUNTY CONFERENCE – BASEBALL

Annandale at New London-Spicer

Holy Family at Waconia

Glencoe-Silver Lake at Dassel-Cokato

Hutchinson at New Prague

Orono at St. Anthony

Mound Westonka at Rockford

Litchfield at Watertown-Mayer

 

MN RIVER CONFERENCE – BASEBALL

LeSueur-Henderson at Sibley East

 

CENTRAL MN CONFERENCE – SOFTBALL

Holdingford at HLWW (DH)

Pierz at Kimball (DH)

B-B-E at Maple Lake (DH)

Paynesville at Eden Valley-Watkins (DH)

 

MN CHRISTIAN ATHLETIC ASSOCIATION – SOFTBALL

SW Christian at LP/HT

Heritage Christian at PACT Charter

West Lutheran at New Life Academy

 

WRIGHT COUNTY CONFERENCE – SOFTBALL

Rockford at Mound Westonka (DH)

Watertown-Mayer at Litchfield

Dassel-Cokato at Glencoe-Silver Lake

Delano at Orono

Waconia at Holy Family

New Prague at Hutchinson

 

MN RIVER CONFERENCE – SOFTBALL

Tri-City United at NYA

LeSueur-Henderson at Sibley East

 

TRACK AND FIELD – CENTRAL MN CONFERENCE

HLWW, Dassel-Cokato, Eden Valley-Watkins, St. John’s Prep, St. Cloud Cathedral, Zimmerman at Maple Lake, 4 pm

 

TRACK AND FIELD – WRIGHT COUNTY CONFERENCE

CHOF, Glencoe-Silver Lake, International School of MN, Liberty Classical Academy, Mayer Lutheran, Patrick Henry, SW Christian, and West Lutheran at Watertown-Mayer, 4 pm

 

TRACK AND FIELD – MN RIVER CONFERENCE

CHOF, Glencoe-Silver Lake, International School of MN, Liberty Classical Academy, Mayer Lutheran, Patrick Henry, SW Christian, and West Lutheran at Watertown-Mayer, 4 pm

 

GIRLS GOLF – CENTRAL MN CONFERENCE

HLWW, Paynesville, B-B-E, Kimball/Eden Valley-Watkins, Pierz, Maple Lake, Osakis at Pierz Golf Course, 4:15 pm

 

BOYS GOLF – WRIGHT COUNTY CONFERENCE

Annandale, Mound Westonka, Dassel-Cokato, Glencoe-Silver Lake, Litchfield, New London-Spicer, Rockford, and Watertown-Mayer at Burl Oaks Country Club, 4 pm

 

GIRLS GOLF – MN RIVER CONFERENCE

Belle Plaine, Jordan, LeSueur-Henderson, Mayer Lutheran, Sibley East, St. Peter, and New Prague at Montgomery National Golf Course, 12:30 pm

 

BOYS GOLF – MN RIVER CONFERENCE

Belle Plaine, Jordan, LeSueur-Henderson, Mayer Lutheran, Sibley East, St. Peter, and St. Anthony at Montgomery National Golf Course, 12:30 pm

 

Follow Kip Kovar on Twitter for in-game updates, scores, rankings, and analysis throughout the season on all your favorite teams.

Twitter: @Kovar_HJSports