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Willmar Notebook: Holter had long run with Cardinal tennis

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sports Willmar, 56201
Willmar Minnesota 2208 Trott Ave. SW / P.O. Box 839 56201

Willmar High School is looking for a new head coach for boys varsity tennis with the resignation of Loren Holter, head coach the last six seasons.

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"It's time to relax in the spring and play more golf," Holter said.

His association with Cardinal tennis extends back to 1990. Counting girls and boys tennis, he's put in 21 years and 38 seasons on the high-school courts.

His day job the last 30 years is elsewhere. He's site manager at the Kandiyohi Day Activities Center. The program, which also has a second site in Atwater, provides jobs for about 100 county adults with disabilities.

"It's got so the tennis was taking so much time at work," he said. "(In spring) you're watching the weather radar. Making alternate plans for practice or whether to postpone a match. And it will be nice to not to have to worry so much about winning and losing."

He's been the head coach since 2005 when he took over for Hal Miller. He'd been Miller's varsity assistant since 1990 and they were also doubles partners in summer tournaments.

He also helped Miller with senior high girls tennis for 14 years, and then worked with Erika Kath for two seasons when she took over as head coach when Miller retired from his dual duty as head coach of both tennis programs.

Holter got to coach both his sons, Ryan ('98) and Eric ('03) for a total of nine years. He is married to Betty DeJong, who grew up in Clara City.

Holter is home grown. He graduated in 1974 after earning three letters playing for Gil Idso, who retired in 1989.

Giving up the tennis job was no easy decision. "I enjoyed every minute," he said.

His top team was in 2007. The Cardinals took third in the Central Lakes Conference, beat perennial kingpin St. Cloud Tech 4-3 in the section quarterfinals but fell 4-3 to Moorhead in the 8AA semifinals. Final record: 12-5. Junior doubles pair Marco Vazquez/Matt Halstrom got as far as the section semifinals.

Activities director Jamie Thompson hopes to have a successor named both in fastpitch softball and boys tennis in September.

To N.Y and back

Kari Higdem (WHS '05) is back living in Minnesota after spending six years Manhattan.

She spent four years running both cross-country and track for the Columbia University Lions in the Ivy League while obtaining a degree in math and visual design.

She made many special friends over those years; some of the Easterners have ventured west curious to sample local customs on the "Edge of the Prairie."

Daria Schneider, who grew up in Boston's Brookline section has traveled the world competing in fencing but not before to Minnesota.

"What stands out is the food," she said. "The fresh farm food, like the corn and the meat, are so good."

And it's true, she added, the people are really friendly.

Kari took Daria and two others friends from out east to the Boundary Waters for a one-day portage.

"It's definitely one of the special places I've traveled," she said.

A fencer since age 10, she was the 2007 NCAA national champion in saber. She's a member of the U.S. National team and ranks 15th internationally.

Her focus now is on earning one of the two spots on the U.S. team for the 2012 London Olympics.

A recent highlight was a 2010 visit to the White House supporting Chicago's (failed) bid for the 2016 Olympics. Web photos show Daria in full fencing gear doing a fist-bump with President Obama.

Kari now lives in Minneapolis with her older sister Kirsten, a registered nurse at Fairview. Both girls won all-state honors in Cardinal cross-country and each qualified for state in track.

Willmar (pop. 20,000) and New York City (pop. 8.2 million) seem a world apart but Kari said she enjoyed every minute of her time in the East.

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