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Thiery leaving YMCA after 7 years on the job

One of Bryan Thiery's last chores as an activities director at the YMCA was to supervise the Law Day/Memorial 5k at Robbins Island.

"I'm going to miss the people the most," he said this week. "It's not too often you have a job where you get to work and feel like it's home."

After seven years with the local YMCA, Thiery, 35, has moved to St. Michael and bought a house.

"I wanted to be closer to my girlfriend (Angie Behrens)," he explained. "She's a nurse who works for the University (of Minnesota) hospital."

He's picking up what work he can, but it hasn't been easy in these challenging times.

He plans to follow Angie's career path and become a registered nurse, after first becoming a certified nursing assistant.

Thiery was a two-sport athlete at Willmar, excelling in swimming where he is a long-time record holder. After graduating in 1993, he earned a criminology degree at St. Cloud State and worked for over five years at the Prairie Lakes Detention Center, now Prairie Lakes Youth Program.

He started as a volunteer with the YMCA mentoring program and was hired in 2002 to direct it.

He became Community Outreach Director which involved adult and youth programs and counselor training.

"The Y was the talk of the town when I started and it has never stopped," he said. "Looking back there are so many cool things you can do now, not just youth but all ages, that just weren't available before."

Full-contact summer camp

The Cardinals got an early start on preparations for the 2010 football season. With a seasoned team of returning starters, this is the most anticipated fall since 2000, Willmar's last championship season.

Thirty-seven players and the full coaching staff spent Saturday, Sunday and Monday at the North Dakota State team camp.

This was full-gear, 11-on-11 tackle with the Fargodome the main field. The 13 teams came from four states, and also included Lac qui Parle Valley from this area.

The team camp is a first for Willmar. Coach Jon Konold did team camps at Mankato West where he was an assistant before becoming head coach here a year ago.

The scrimmages, which began Saturday evening, were preceded by physical tests and measurements which will be put in a Bison data base. New defensive coordinator Dustin Carlson also got to install the first elements of a new defense.

Konold expects 80 players in grades 10-12 in August, plus 45-50 freshmen.

The camp, which included instruction, cost each player $145 and included dorm lodging and all-you-can-eat buffets. The practice time, including position drills and video reviews, came out to about 20 hours or a full week of pre-season practice.

Despite the heavy hitting without conditioning against teams from Cambridge, Moorhead and Fargo South, Willmar suffered no injuries except for a few rug burns from one of the outdoor fields which had an older type of artificial turf.

A reunion twisted<?b>

Jason Mayer, the Cardinals' new girls hockey coach, and his wife, Lori, returned to their home town of Wadena on Friday. Looking ahead, this was supposed to be a joyous occasion -- an all-school reunion.

But the twister that roared through the U.S. Highway 71 Community last Thursday turned it into a visit to a virtual war zone.

"It's a miracle nobody was killed," said Jason this week, back in Willmar where he works at Rice Hospital. "There were only minor injuries. There are places with no trees left. I had friends lose their house. It was very disheartening. The photos, the videos, they don't do it justice."

The tornado took a particularly heavy toll on public buildings and parks. The high school building where Jason graduated 20 years ago, and Lori a year earlier, appears too badly damaged to be saved.

All the athletic fields and the adjoining fairgrounds suffered heavy damage. Especially depressing for Jason -- all that remains of the community center/ice arena that his parents helped found and where he played hockey growing up is a cement slab.

The reunion was canceled. The Willmar couple spent Saturday helping clear trees. There were a few gatherings of classmates in the evening.

He figures about one-fourth of the town took a direct hit.

"There's nothing to do but start over," Jason said.

Swanson honored

Retired Ridgewater College coach Val Swanson has been honored with another award recognizing her long coaching career and contributions to the sport of volleyball.

The North Country Region USA Volleyball Founder's Award recognizes individuals with a minimum of 15 years advancing the sport.

Swanson, whose stepson Joe Sussenguth, now coaches the team, won over 700 matches and was recognized as NJCAA Region Coach of the Year six times from 1982 to 2005.

State tourney

Volunteers are needed to help at the State Amateur Baseball Tournament the weekends of Aug. 20-22, 27-29 and Sept. 3-6.

Needs include concessions, team hosts, parking lot, dugout and stadium attendants and National Anthem singers.

Shifts are three hours. Contact Mary Sawatzky at 320-894-3808 or

Rand Middleton
Tribune photographer/videographer. Began working in radio and at weekly newspaper in Munising, Michigan, in 1972. Started parttime at West Central Daily Tribune Sept. 1974. Fulltime news/sports beginning Feb. 1979. Married to Tribune news clerk Donna (Miller) Middleton, formerly of Kerkhoven. 2 grown children. 
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