Sunday, November 22, 2009

South High Pride

I got an e-mail from the South High Foundation tonight that brought the following story to my attention. The Minneapolis South High Nordic Ski Team won a national sportsmanship award for helping an opposing team member participate in sectionals. This is yet another reason why I am proud to say I'm a South High Alumna. You can find this story and a list of other winners at this site. As a former coach, I always tried to emphasize sportsmanship to my players. Too often it is the showboats and cheaters that garner the attention. I'm glad to see there is an organization that rewards what is right about sports.

One last thing - note they were skiing in -4 degree weather. That's Minnesota for you. We play outside when others dare not. Rock on, Ski Team.

Minneapolis South High School
Nordic Ski Team

The Nordic ski team from Southwest High School in Minneapolis was preparing for a sectional in February when the coaching staff recognized a serious problem. Libby Ellis, the team's best and the state's second-ranked skier, had not competed in enough races to qualify for sectionals. To compound the issue further, Ellis was in Norway. Tony Aspholm, the coach at South High School – Southwest’s arch rival – learned about Ellis' dilemma and wanted to help. Aspholm organized his team quickly for an impromptu meet with Southwest. This was significant because Aspholm's South High team had competed earlier that same day. The last-minute competition would give Ellis the necessary number of races to compete in sectionals. There was still the problem of getting Ellis home from Norway. Ellis arrived in Newark at 2 p.m. only to find out her connection to Minneapolis had been cancelled. She finally landed in Minneapolis at 9:30 p.m. and immediately headed to Theodore Wirth Park. There, her Southwest High teammates and her opponents from South High stood ready. The competition began at 10:30 p.m. with a temperature of minus 4 degrees. The two teams completed the meet less than 12 hours prior to the start of sectionals. Ellis went on to win at sectionals and qualified for the state meet. Sacrifice is giving up something for something greater. In this case, the South and Southwest teams saw something great in Libby Ellis. Their sacrifice validated her victory; proving that even individual achievements require a team effort.

The Minneapolis South High School Nordic Ski Team is being recognized by the Citizenship Through Sports Alliance and the St. Louis Sports Commission.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Veterans Day

Bernadette, Ken, Zac and I went diving this morning out at Electric Beach. I was pretty nervous about it, seeing as the last time I tried diving at this spot I had a bad experience. (I'm not sure I wrote about that one - suffice it to say it was not a good day.) Granted that was more than four months ago now. Face the fear and do it anyway, right? So after a little bit of over-reacting on my part we made it out past the shore break and followed the reef out towards the exhaust tube. Electric Beach (also known as Kahe Point) is across the highway from, you guessed it, a power plant. There's a pipe that runs under the highway into the ocean that expels warm water attracting lots of sea life. It's a shallow dive, only 20-25 feet around the pipe, but it's always interesting.

I hadn't been diving since our manta ray dive on the Big Island in July. Time flies. I forgot how much I like it down there. We saw a turtle cruise by. I tried to remain motionless as the turtle came a little closer to check me out. It was the closest I've ever been to one. They really are amazingly graceful. Zac and I watched him get tossed around by the current of warm water being forced out of the pipe. The turtle seemed to enjoy it. A little later during the dive Zac got a little too close to the current as well and was jetted up to the surface. It was pretty comical watching him get shot to the surface. (It was shallow enough that we didn't need to worry about decompression sickness.) I laughed about as well as one can laugh while diving.

We also saw what I believe to be a great barracuda. The fish was not one that Zac or I had ever seen before. It looked much different than the other fish for two main reasons - 1.) Its size. It was about three feet long, but not skinny like a cornet fish. It was a more substantial. 2.) It's teeth. Yes. Teeth. They were kind of scary. Doing some research in our critter books once we got home, I concluded with a certain amount of confidence that we saw a great barracuda. Apparently they're like sharks in that they don't usually cause people trouble. Now if I was a little silver fish, I would have much to worry about from a barracuda. Some of the websites I consulted said that barracuda's are attracted to the sparkle of the silver fish so divers might want to consider leaving the sparkly stuff at home when diving. Also, they tend to get more confused about who to bite when the water is murky. The water was quite clear today. Phew.

On a more solemn note . . .

As we were driving home we heard this story on PRI's The World, brought to us locally by Hawaii Public Radio. It's the story of the 100th Battalion, 442nd Infantry and how they rescued the "Lost Battalion" of Texas National Guardsmen in WWII. The story is less than 10 minutes long, but it is worth your time. The members of the 442nd were Japanese-American. Many of them had family members in internment camps, yet they were fighting for us, working to save the lives of their fellow soldiers. What kind of extraordinary men do that? What kind of men say, "You took my family's home, you sent my family to live in a camp in the American West, you deprived my family of their rights, but I will fight for you, America. I will fight for you because of what you stand for. I believe in your dreams and ideals. And though you sometimes fail terribly at living up to those goals, I'm willing to fight and die for them."

Sacrifice. It's what Veterans Day is really about. Sacrificing their time, their physical and mental health, their lives. Many of our veterans are volunteers. Some were drafted. But all of them deserve a big thank you for doing what most of us can't or don't.

Happy Veterans Day.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Softball, football and laundry

I'm stuck on an island without a single batting cage. They can play baseball year-round out here, but heaven forbid you go practice your swing somewhere! More on that later.

The Huskers are playing right now, but we can't see them. Apparently because we're in Hawaii and almost as far west as possible we get Pac-10 games most of the time. Now why anyone would want to watch Pac-10 football is beyond me. I have little to no love for that conference. USC, the Oregons, the Arizonas, Washington, etc. They all kind of irritate me. I'd much rather be watching Big Ten or Big 12 football. Heck, I'd take an SEC or ACC match up in place of a Pac-10 game. But here we are, watching USC play at Arizona State, when we could be watching Oklahoma playing at Nebraska, like a large swath of the middle of the county. (Including my peeps in Minnesota who seem to have taken an interest in the Huskers, trying to understand the man who is my husband.)

Zac gets cranky at the amount of tv time my Gophers get, whether it be football or hockey. Between the Big Ten Network and some of the Fox Sports channels I think I've been able to see all but one Gopher football game and most of the Gopher hockey games. At least the NCAA Women's Volleyball tourney is coming up soon, so hopefully we'll be able to catch some Husker action in that sport. Maybe I could petition ESPN to air some more Huskers games, in the name of marital harmony.

Zac played softball this afternoon. It's a slow-pitch league comprised of teams from different Navy commands. Zac didn't grow up playing baseball or softball, so much of this is new for him. I admire his desire to learn and to contribute. Not many people are confident enough as adults to try and learn a sport with as many convoluted rules as softball. Zac's team has had a rough season. They're not win-less, but they don't have a lot of wins. Today was another tough loss. I like to go and be supportive, but everyone gets pretty cranky about the outcomes. Zac is not a gracious loser, especially when he feels like he performed poorly. I can't understand how he can get down on himself when the team doesn't ever practice and the only time he ever gets to bat is twice a week where he sees maybe four pitches.

This brings me back to the lack of batting cages. I'd love to go with him to a batting cage so he can get 30-40 swings in. So we can work on form in a nice, controlled environment. (I'd offer to go throw batting practice to him, but I don't have 20-30 softballs sitting around the house to make it time-effective.) What I don't get is that baseball is pretty big out here. Some major league players have come from Hawaii. I can't imagine that there aren't a fair number of kids on Oahu that wouldn't mind taking batting practice. Maybe the schools have their own facilities. Regardless, it's still frustrating.

Well, the dryer stopped so I guess I'll get the clothes and fold them while I look at my laptop updating the Husker game ever couple seconds. Nothing says "excitement" like Gamecast.

Friday, November 6, 2009


Once upon a time there were two little girls, sisters, who were the best of friends. They had a lot of adventures together. One day they conquered a massive pile of snow in their front yard. Victory was sweet.

I can't wait to go home to visit.