Jason Mayer, the new leader of the girls hockey program at Willmar High School, knows well the players he's inherited.
The Wadena native has coached in the hockey association's girls youth program for eight years.
He has been hired to coach the girls varsity program that was under Chad Akerson and then interim coach Lee Wierschem in 2009-10.
He's a non-school employee who came to Willmar in 1998 and has worked at Rice Hospital for 11 years. The past 2½ years he has been director of Laboratory Services at Rice.
"I'm very excited," he said. "I'm looking forward to getting started."
He's underway this month working with 20 future varsity and JV players on the summer ice at the Willmar Civic Center.
Mayer, 38, coached 12U most recently, plus he's worked with spring league and select teams.
He plans a strong recruitment effort "top to bottom" to build numbers. Right now, he said, numbers at 10U and 12U are around 10 or 12 per team, which is on the low side.
The 1990 Wadena graduate played three years of high school hockey but did not play in college. He and his wife Lori have two daughters, Brooke, a sophomore who plays hockey, and Camryn, a seven-year-old, whom Jason notes "is just starting her hockey journey."
Foot Lake 4
The 16th Annual Foot Lake 4, which is a week from Saturday, drew 383 "on-time registrations," according to Jean Raatz, whose Rice Hospital Foundation office handles registrations. Last year's four-mile circle run had 623 finishers, 153 of them walkers.
Sandra Schagel, communications coordinator at Rice and the event coordinator, said for the first time both the male and female overall winners will receive a $100 cash prize. She explained the race committee felt the need to replace the "beautiful geese" trophies carved by Phil Scheevel of Spicer that went to each overall champion.
The meticulous carvings were singular pieces of art that set the FL4 post-race awards apart. Schagel said Scheevel, also a past member of the race committee, has retired from his FL4 involvement due to other time commitments.
Also stepping down this year is Leon Lentz, an energizing force in establishing this race and designing the original course in 1995. After 15 years, he will be running instead of volunteering.
Added this year will be an increased attention to the fanfare at the finish line where Cardinals girls basketball announcer Dave Broze will take the microphone.
Baseball thrives on tradition and history. Jim Johnson, a 1950 Kerkhoven graduate who played in the Cornbelt League, has written a book about one of the most unusual characters in Minnesota Amateur baseball.
Johnson will discuss the extraordinary pitcher Esten "Dummy" Hanson at a book signing at 7 p.m. today at the Historical Society on State Highway 71 North.
Raised on a farm near Sunburg, Hanson attended the school for the deaf in Faribault where he received training as a printer and as a pitcher. He returned home in 1898 and for the next 10 years became one of the top attractions and best pitchers in the state.
Fans and newspaper reports referred to the young Norwegian, affectionately or not, as "Dummy" throughout a short career that ended in 1908, at age 30, when stricken fatally by spinal meningitis while pitching in North Dakota.
Johnson, a retired lawyer and the older brother of Mike Johnson, a former high school and community college coach here, said contemporary accounts report Dummy was a strikeout pitcher with a back-breaking curve ball, a new pitch in these parts.
The 200-page book includes eight double pages of photographs.
Kampsen is MVP
Ridgewater College's freshman catcher Shane Kampsen has been named 2010 MCAC Player of the Year. The former Paynesville Bulldog hit .530 with 63 RBI. Also named to the all-state team were sophomore Matt Christensen of Aitkin (.421, 62 hits, 5-1 W-L, 2.16 ERA) and sophomore center fielder Luke Frauendienst of Henderson (.473, 27 steals).
On the fly
- Ridgewater College women's basketball player additions include 5-8 forward Bobbi Uecker of Buffalo Lake-Hector and 5-7 guard Samantha Cunningham of Atwater-Cosmos-Grove City.
- Andy Jacobson posted three victories before tasting defeat in the semifinal round Tuesday of the 4th MGA Mid-Players' Championship at Interlachen.
- To complete the record on the Cardinals' eight-grade hurdler Miranda Roelofs: she first broke the nine-year-old standard (47.77) in the 300 lows at the Central Lakes meet (47.5) and then lowered the record, as reported in this column last week, with a time of 47.07 at sections.
- Willmar Recreation is sponsoring tournaments in softball and 6-on-6 grass volleyball on Willmar Fest weekend. Teams are still being accepted for each. Call 320-231-8490.