Mickey McGuire played in the football hotbed of Wake Forest, N.C. The high schools are huge (his graduating class was around 600) and the hated rivals, both public and private programs, are just a few miles away. Major universities are within an hour's drive feeding the football fever on Saturdays.
McGuire was out of football two years. He found his way here (a 24-hour drive) when his former high school teammate, tight end Lawrence White, told him that he was transferring from an Iowa juco to a college "Up north" in Minnesota.
"He told me I should give it a try," said the crew cut 205-pound linebacker this week. "I wasn't doing much of anything. It's OK here, but cold," said McGuire.
He's looking forward to Saturday's game versus Minnesota West at Hodapp Field. Hopefully there will be a big crowd.
Many of his teammates expressed the same wish. Crowds for Ridgewater football seldom draw well. Maybe 400 tops, nothing close to Friday's high-school games.
Much of the Ridgewater crowds are parents and friends, many traveling long distances for the weekend. The games attract very few fans from the town and area though Coach Rob Baumgarn is doing his best to put on a good show, including fog and high amps as the players take the field.
But this Saturday with the teams unbeaten, plus homecoming and a 6 p.m. start the draw should be up.
The Warriors are quarterbacked by Cody Jaeger, a sophomore from Benson. Hometown boy Nathanial Swoyer is the fullback; his job is pass protection and spearheading the running plays.
"They're getting better at following my lead," said the sophomore captain with a smile.
Both West and Ridge received votes in the most recent juco national poll.
This is the first of three home games over four weekends. The road game is at Rochester, the Warriors' long-time nemesis. But for now, all the energy is directed at their Saturday evening opponent from Worthington.
RCW for Quinn Ann
You may have read on these pages of a fundraiser set for Oct. 1 at a volleyball game in Renville to help defray medical expenses for Quinn Ann Mikkelson, born in April.
She's the daughter of Jonathan and Danielle (Dahl) Mikkelson of Willmar. Jonathan, a Benson native, is a senior research associate at Pioneer Hi-Bred in Willmar. Danielle is a business teacher at Renville County West and last season's volleyball coach. She earned a dozen letters at Willmar (starring on two state tournament hockey teams) and went on to play sports at Concordia College, where she met her future husband.
Having covered Danielle athletic career, I emailed her asking how their infant daughter is doing and what do all those medical terms mean.
What follows is her detailed response with editing for length: "Quinn was born early at 31 weeks at the University of Minnesota Fairview Hospital. She was diagnosed with gastroschisis at our 20 week ultrasound. Gastroschisis is where children are born with their intestines outside their body. We knew we were a high-risk pregnancy and needed close monitoring so we ended up having the baby in Minneapolis where they could care for her.
"She has had a total of six surgeries and was in the hospital for 4½ months. She was also diagnosed with a rare condition called septo optic dysplasia at her one month checkup.
"Quinn is blind in her right eye due to a detached retina and we still do not know the capability of her left eye. Time will tell what she will be able to see and can do.
"She currently has a central line that gives her nutrition through IV and a feeding tube...
I was able to be with Quinn in Minneapolis over the summer as I have my summer months off. The decision was made when we knew her recovery would take longer than we had hoped, to resign from coaching. Fortunately, I was able to go back to work starting in the fall. At-home nursing and her grandma, Corinne Dahl, take care of her when Jonathan and I are working.
"We are so blessed to have her alive and with us at home. We really don't know what having a 'normal' child is like as this is our first. ... We have many follow up appointments in Minneapolis as she has many doctors following her at Children' Hospital Amplatz. She is now 9 pounds, 2 ounces. When she was born, Quinn weighed 2 pounds, 2 ounces."
Dixie Swim Club
Colleen Dorsey is back in town and starring at the Barn in a play which runs at the downtown theater through Saturday. The Dixie Swim Club is about five women from a national championship team who reunite each year "Proving the enduring power of teamwork that carries them through the challenges that life flings at them with heart and humor."
Colleen sent me a few notes this week on the play: "Sheree Hollinger (my character) wears Dave Dorsey's original football referee whistle from the 1970s when he, Al Swansson, Ed Nystrom, Wayne Nelson [and other Willmarites] were referees. I'm the team captain of the (fictional) Pemberton College Women's Swim Team. Our director, Jerry Morrison, was once a high school football offensive TE who, after an injury, decided to go into theater."
Colleen made her mark at Willmar High School in music and theater. Her younger brothers, Mike and Pat, each played on state tournament basketball teams later in the '80s. Dave, their father, starred at Montevideo High ... a long time ago.
"It's great to be back living in our wonderful community of Willmar again," said Colleen. "Cheering for the Cards, participating at The Barn, and being closer to family and friends have been just wonderful."
Also starring are Stacey Neuhaus, Nancy Rieke, Heather McCarthy and Laurie Allen.
Lentz and Welker
New inductees to the Cardinal Pride HOF will be introduced to the student body Friday afternoon at Pep Fest in the gym on Sept. 28 before the night game with Alexandria.
Jeff Welker ('76) and Andrea (Lentz) Winghart ('94) will also be feted at the induction reception (3:30 p.m.) and dinner (4:30) at the American Legion Post 167 and also at halftime of the homecoming game.
The dinner is $16. RSVP to Patti Johnson at 320-894-2164.
On the fly
- At Collegeville Saturday, this reporter ran into Mike Spanier, the Paynesville native, standing on the track in the north end zone visiting with his friend Bruce Hentges, the former St. Cloud Tech A.D. and football coach. Mike has been a football official for 34 years, the last 14 in the NFL. He's sidelined by the strike, mainly over pension and salary. The Sartell school administrator would rather be working on the weekends. "It's frustrating," he said. "I always considered my (NFL) job a gift." Bruce is semi-retired and a member of the St. Cloud school board. He also coaches in the Sartell football program; his son Scott, a Tech QB in the 1990s, is the Sabres new varsity head coach.
- Ranked in state high-school cross-country for the first time this season is Willmar girls team (12th in Class AA) and Willmar Community Christian sophomore Ben Burgett (12th Class A boys)
- Football attendance (rounded by me) at Cardinal games was 1,100 vs Buffalo and 1,400 for Brainerd. The figure includes adults, students and passes.