What? You haven’t heard of the River Falls Fighting Fish?

No, they don’t hang out in the Kinnickinnic River or Lake George, a minnow bucket or a creel. They do their thing on the RFHS baseball field and other area hardball establishments where they take on Bull Frogs, Honkers, Mudhens, Skeeters, and sometimes when they’re feeling especially feisty, Pirates and Bandits. These strange sounding monickers are those of the amateur town baseball teams from Beef River, Grantsburg, St. Paul, Hager City, Prescott and St. Croix Falls, respectively. The Fighting Fish beat the Beef River Bull Frogs to win the Wisconsin Baseball Association (WBA) championship last August 21. And you thought Fighting Fish was an unusual name for a baseball team? Did you know there was a Beef River, Wisconsin? Neither did I.

OK, so who are these guys, the Fighting Fish?

Many are people you may know, or have heard of:  Marty and Jack Herum, J.P. Feyereisen, Brian Giebel, Ryan Gilbertson, Adam Stuessel, Clint Kempf, Colin Pechacek, Adam Brathol, Tyler Hunter, Greg Cheever, Trevor Gutting, Jason Hunt, Brandon Gilbertson, and Nate Soley, all of whom are RFHS graduates who now live and work elsewhere, or are attending college. Then there’s Brad Erdrich, RFHS senior; Nate Schurman, Greenwood School Princicpal; Matt Walker, UWRF Football Coach; Joe Paatalo, RFHS teacher; Nathan Brom and Sam  Giliuson, UWRF grads and mixologists at Johnnies Bar; Ryan Bishop, RFHS Teacher and Baseball Coach;  Josh Eidem, team manager, UWRF grad and Cottage Grove teacher. Joel Schaffer, Dan Kretovics,and and Dan Morgan, all UWRF grads, live in or near River Falls and work elsewhere. Only Justin Peterson, Baldwin, and Rick Wells , Stillwater, must content themselves with no RFHS or UWRF connection, but nevertheless live in the River Falls “orbit.”

Doesn’t this team already have a place to play?

Yes, and though the RFHS field is adequate, lack of lights is a handicap. Because of scheduling conflicts and inability to play double headers (would require lights), only 10-11 home games can be scheduled for the state WBA champs this summer. That’s a dictionary definition of deprivation—for Fish fans, that is. And once people get to see this team in action, THEY WILL BECOME FANS, GUARANTEED. That happened to me last summer. On a lighted field, the team could play as many as 25-30 games, sometimes during mid-week, or on Friday nights, at more convenient times for working people.

Another handicap:  the RFHS field is relatively hard to get to. There is a parking lot west of the field, but to walk from there is difficult for older or handicapped folks. And a walk from the parking lot south of the high school is about a block.

Another drawback (for other than pure baseball fans like me, who are there for the art of the game only) : lack of opportunity to down a frosty one on a hot summer afternoon while watching the game.  No alcoholic beverages can be sold at the high school field. How ya gonna have the third “b” in  “baseball, brats, and beer” in that kind of circumstance? And, according to those in the know, beer sales are a significant part of team revenue.

Yeah, but isn’t a new ball park expensive? Who’s  gonna pay for it?

According to Josh Eidem, team manager, “the Baseball Bash held recently at Kilkarney Hills Golf Course, attracted 408 people and raised $6,700. in gross receipts. To date, we have raised just under $8,000. toward the project itself.” Though that’s a great start, Eidem says, there’s still a long way to get to the 400 to 500 thousand dollars needed to complete the project.

 

The Fighting Fish Baseball Board, composed of Cedric Ellingson, Fred Barr, Brian Pechacek, Ryan Bishop, Dave Dintemann, Josh Eidem, Joel Schaffer,  Clint Kempf, Tim Frey, Mark Hallberg, Brian Giebel, Curt Bruns, and Pat O’Malley “will begin meeting with local and regional business men within the next month to bring corporate sponsors on board to help pay for different parts of the ballpark, as well as to begin the Donor Brick Drive,” said Eidem, “and we hope the rest of the funding can come from a construction/development loan, to be paid in yearly installments from concessions and advertising sales.” Donor Bricks, or  engraved paver bricks, will be part of a “Donor’s Plaza” patio in front of the concession stand.

Frisbie Architects is doing a considerable amount of design work as an in-kind donation to the project, Eidem said. “We are currently working with them on a grandstand design, and expect to seat between 250-300 people in the main grandstand,” he added. Louie Filkins of Ogden Engineering has built us a grading plan, Eidem said.

But Eidem stressed that the ballpark project “isn’t just a baseball project. Building a ballpark is an investment in River Falls that has the potential to encourage people to move here and draw current residents together. In these tough economic  and politically divisive times, it’s important that we have enough public places with a reason to gather to reaffirm the common bonds that tie us to River Falls and to each other.”

And it’s not just about baseball for the Fighting Fish: the 2010 season was dedicated to the RF Food Pantry, an effort which contributed approximately $1,000. in food and money collected.

Now, at least, you’ve heard of the River Falls Fighting Fish. Anyone interested in sponsorship ideas, or who has thoughts about how to help with the ballpark project, please contact Josh Eidem at 651.335.0030.

Falcon fans who attend the opening practice of both men’s and women’s basketball tonight, Saturday, October 15, will be part of the first ever Midnight Madness event at UWRF. Part of the anticipation may be dampened upon discovery that former University of Minnesota player, Colton Iverson, did not transfer to UWRF, as announced in my last blog, a stunner, on April Fools’ Day. I say that for the legions of fans who actually believed that he transferred. But that was then.

This is now, and anticipation is high for both the men’s and women’s teams. Festivities begin with a “tailgating” party at Junior’s Bar at 10:30 (p.m., not a.m.). Doors open at Karges Gym at 11:30.

One of the highlights of the evening will be a dunk contest. Several astute judges, all selected on their ability to dunk, will decide the winner. Among them will be Jake Voeltz, last season’s all conference performer for the Falcons; Roger Ternes, UWRF Athletic Director, and I. Coach Berkhof has asked Roger and me not to exhibit our talents as dunkers for fear of intimidating the players. We, of course, will gladly oblige.

The main reason this blog is last minute is that crowd anticipation is so great that I was asked not to give advance  publicity in order to ensure that all fans could actually squeeze into Karges.

The women’s team opens the season vs. Simpson College in the Luther College Tournament on November 18. The next night they play Luther College. On November 22, they travel to Concordia University in St. Paul for their third game. Their first home game will be on November 30 against the College of St. Scholastica.

Hopes are high for the Falcon women as they bring back their entire starting lineup, a  16-11 team that finished in a tie for fifth place with Oshkosh on a 7-9 conference record.

The men’s team, 20-8 overall last season, 12-8 in the WIAC and second place finishers to champion Stevens Point, returns four starters:  Ollie White, Shane Manor, Brian Kimble, and Aaron Anderson. Manor was named to last season’s All Conference Team. In addition, Wade Guerin, honorable mention All Conference two years ago and out last season because of injury, returns. Also back from two years ago is Colin Utke, a player who saw lots of action as a freshman, and Taylor Peterson, a promising guard who was out all last season with an injury.

Coach Jeff Berkhof, named WIAC coach of the year a season ago, has recruited five promising freshmen, including Shane Manor’s brother Bo of Altoona. Two transfer players, Ethan Thomforde and Chris Palmer, increase the optimism in the Falcon camp. Thomforde comes to the Falcons from Augustana University, a Division 2 school in South Dakota. Palmer played at St. Mary’s University in Winona last season. He finished second in scoring and first in rebounding in the Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference.

The Falcon men open their season at Viterbo University in LaCrosse on November 15, then travel to Bethel College for a two day tournament. They will face Loras College on November 18 and play the following night in the championship game.

 

 

  • In a shocking development on the local basketball scene, Colton Iverson, 6 foot 10 inch, 258 pound Junior forward/center for the Minnesota Gophers the past three years, announced yesterday that he has decided to transfer to UWRF to play his final year of basketball.

The Yankton, South Dakota, native had previously said in an email to the Yankton “Press and Dakotan” that he was following a “gut feeling,” and that a transfer is  the “right move” at this time in his career. He added that it was a “tough decision after playing three years for head coach Tubby Smith and the Gophers.”

Falcon coach Jeff Berkhof said of the surprising revelation:  “When I saw the announcement of Colton’s decision, I thought about the fact that he would have to sit out  for a year before he could play for another division one program, so I decided to take a gamble and contact him. He can play for us next season.”

When asked why he would want to play for a division three team after competing in division one, Iverson said, “You know, I’ve always thought about the advantages of being a big frog in a small pond. I’m really looking forward to it.”

Iverson averaged slightly over five points and five rebounds per game this season in a reserve role for Minnesota.  However, he started 27 games as a freshman, averaging 5.3 points and 3.6 rebounds per game. His role was largely that of a reserve in his sophomore year, though he played in all 35 games.

With several players returning next season, the Falcons are looking forward to a great year, especially with Colton Iverson aboard. And may you, too, have a great year, even if you are an April fool for believing this blog.

According to information  on the UWRF Athletics website, all  fans who attend Saturday’s Falcon men’s basketball game (Karges Center, 4:00 p.m.) vs UW Whitewater are asked to wear white in order to “Whiteout Whitewater! Enthusiasm continues to build around this season’s team, now with a 15 game win streak, a 12-0 WIAC record, and a 19-2 overall record. No Falcon basketball team in the history of the sport has accomplished these numbers. In the “modern era,” the closest team to achieving such awe inspiring numbers was the championship team of 2004 featuring Rich Melzer.

That team finished 21-7 overall and 12-4 in the WIAC, good enough to win the championship. But that team did not approach the 15 game winning streak, nor did they, at this point in their season, achieve the other numbers cited above.

So, is the 2010-11 team as good as the Melzer-led team? One thing is certain:  the current team is much better balanced, with three players averaging double figures in scoring, and a fourth,  Aaron Anderson, at 9.8 points per game. By contrast, no player other than Melzer had an average better than 8+ points per game. Melzer’s 26.9 points per game carried the team. That team, at least theoretically, was an easier team to defend. However, the current team, according to Jeff Berkhof, “does not have a true center.” A contest between the two teams would be very interesting to see. I don’t think it’s going to happen.

I’m more convinced of the current team’s prowess as the season progresses. A recent article in the “Eau Claire Leader-Telegram” called this season, considering that no Falcon team has finished better than sixth since Melzer graduated, “remarkable.” Leading scorer, Shane Manor (Jr., Altoona), was quoted in the article: “We’re playing together. We play great team ball, work hard.We like each other. It’s just a good overall team.”

So dig out your WHITE duds, maybe even the old WHITE Bucks (shoes of the fifties for those who weren’t around then), and help the Falcons WHITEOUT  WHITEWATER. I have a feeling the team will be WHITE HOT, and that Ollie WHITE will do especially well. By the way, the Falcon women play Whitewater right after the men’s game.

In case you doubt what I’ve said, may I remind you:  I could have been a Rhodes Scholar except for  my grades. Not a lot of people know that. And there’s a reason–but I wont go into it.

TIFFANY GREGORICH, JR., ALTOONA, AND JAKE VOELTZ, SR., RIVER FALLS, WERE NAMED THE WIAC  BASKETBALL PLAYERS OF THE WEEK FOR THEIR OUTSTANDING PERFORMANCES RECENTLY. IT’S RARE THAT A PLAYER FROM ANY ONE WIAC TEAM IS SO HONORED, AND DOUBLY UNUSUAL WHEN FALCON PLAYERS FROM BOTH MEN’S AND WOMEN’S TEAMS ARE NAMED IN THE SAME WEEK. GREGORICH IS THE FIRST FALCON TO BE NAMED ON THE WOMEN’S TEAM THIS SEASON. VOELTZ IS THE THIRD. JONTAE KOONKAEW HAS BEEN SO HONORED TWICE EARLIER THIS SEASON.

GREGORICH SCORED 51 POINTS IN TWO GAMES LAST WEEK, 31 IN A 71-62 LOSS AT WHITEWATER, 20 IN A 61-47 WIN OVER STOUT. HER TOTALS FOR THE TWO GAMES:  49% (17/35) ON FIELD GOALS, INCLUDING 5/12 ON THREE’S; 85% (12/14) ON FREE THROWS; 11 REBOUNDS (SHE’S 5’5″); FIVE STEALS; THREE ASSISTS.

VOELTZ HAD 40 POINTS IN TWO GAMES, 28 IN AN 85-79 OVERTIME WIN IN WHITEWATER, 12 IN AN 86-71 WIN OVER STOUT. HIS TOTALS:  60%  (15/25) ON FIELD GOALS, 83% (10/12) ON FREE THROWS, 18 REBOUNDS, THREE BLOCKED SHOTS, THREE ASSISTS. TWELVE OF HIS REBOUNDS CAME AGAINST WHITEWATER, ALLOWING HIM TO CLAIM A DOUBLE/DOUBLE.

THE FALCON MEN (6-0 WIAC, 13-2 OVERALL) PLAY LACROSSE WEDNESDAY, 7:00, IN RIVER FALLS. THE WOMEN (3-3, WIAC, 11-4 OVERALL) TRAVEL TO LACROSSE WEDNESDAY FOR A 7:00 GAME. BOTH TEAMS PLAY IN RIVER FALLS SATURDAY AGAINST PLATTEVILLE. THE MEN’S GAME IS AT 4:00, THE WOMEN’S AT 6:00.

THE LACROSSE MEN’S TEAM WILL FEATURE THE LEAGUE’S HIGHEST SCORING PLAYER, TONY MANE, WHO IS AVERAGING OVER 23 POINTS PER GAME. SO BE THERE TO SEE THE FALCON MEN EXTEND THEIR NINE GAME WINNING STREAK. THERE ARE NO WORTHY EXCUSES FOR BEING ABSENT.

HOWEVER, IF YOU DON’T WANT TO COME TO THE GAME, NOBODY’S GOING TO STOP YOU. HOW’S THAT FOR AN ELEVATED THOUGHT? I SHOULD GIVE CREDIT TO YOGI BERRA, BUT I DON’T WANT TO. HE SAID SOMETHING ALMOST AS GOOD ONCE.

SPORTING THE BEST RECORD AT THIS DATE IN THE LAST 20 YEARS, AND MAYBE EVER, THE UWRF MEN’S BASKETBALL TEAM (11-2, 4-0 WIAC) WILL PLAY STOUT (7-5, 2-2 WIAC) AT KARGES (CAR-GUESS) GYM WEDNESDAY, JANUARY 5, AT 6 P.M. THE WOMEN’S GAME WILL START AT 8:00.

PAST RECORDS REVEAL THAT NO OTHER FALCON TEAM HAS ACCUMULATED 11 WINS THIS EARLY. THE 2001-2 TEAM WAS 9-2, AND THE CHAMPIONSHIP TEAM OF 2003-4 WAS 8-3 AT THIS POINT. IT IS ALSO POSSIBLE THAT NO OTHER FALCON TEAM HAS BEEN 4-0 IN THE WIAC AT THIS DATE, BUT I’M TOO LAZY TO CHECK THAT STAT.

LOOKING BACK EVEN FURTHER, BETWEEN 1966 AND 1990, A PERIOD OF 24 YEARS, ONLY 7 TEAMS HAVE WON 11 OR MORE GAMES IN THE ENTIRE SEASON! SO IS THIS A GREAT YEAR IN FALCON BASKETBALL (SO FAR)? OF COURSE. AND SHOULD WE CELEBRATE THAT FACT WHILE WE CAN? WITHOUT DOUBT! AFTER ALL, WHEN OPPORTUNITY KNOCKS, FALCON FANS RESPOND. OR DON’T THEY?

THEREFORE, WE NEED LEGIONS OF RAUCOUS, WILD-EYED, FIRE BREATHING FALCON FANS PRESENT WEDNESDAY. INDEED, WE REQUIRE A RETURN OF THE “KARGES KRAZYS” OF 2004, ESPECIALLY CONSIDERING THAT STUDENTS ARE STILL ON BREAK.

AND AFTER THE MEN’S GAME, THE CROWD MUST REMAIN IN ORDER TO WATCH THE FALCON WOMEN (10-3, 2-2 WIAC) TEAR STOUT (5-7, 0-3 WIAC) TO SHREDS. THE WOMEN’S TEAM HAS A FOUR GAME WINNING STREAK, WITH RECENT VICTORIES OVER HAMLINE, CONCORDIA UNIVERSITY, CONCORDIA-MOORHEAD COLLEGE, AND ST. SCHOLASTICA. SCORING IS REMARKABLY BALANCED, WITH THE STARTING FIVE OF TIFFANY GREGORICH, ALISE HOLST, MARANDA DOHRN, BRITTANY GREGORICH, AND TAYLOR HOUSE ALL AVERAGING FROM 9 TO 11 POINTS PER GAME.

SO–WORDS TO THE WISE ARE SUFFICIENT:  BE THERE WEDNESDAY NIGHT!

AND SPEAKING OF WISDOM, ACCORDING TO ANN LANDERS, WHAT ARE TWO THINGS YOU SHOULD NEVER DO IN BED? ANSWER:  POINT AND LAUGH.

LOOKING FOR SOMETHING TO DO WEDNESDAY, DECEMBER 28 AND THURSDAY, DECEMBER 29? BUY ONE $7.00 ADULT TICKET FOR THE WEDNESDAY GAME AND USE YOUR TICKET STUB TO GET IN FREE THE NEXT NIGHT.  WEDNESDAY NIGHT THE FALCONS (9-2, 4-0), RANKED 17TH IN THE MOST RECENT D3 BASKETBALL POLL, WILL FACE MACALASTER COLLEGE. THURSDAY THEY WILL PLAY SIOUX FALLS, SD, A DIVISION TWO NAIA TEAM AT KARGES CENTER ( CAN YOU SAY “KAR-GUESS”?–IF YOU CAN’T GET THE PRONUNCIATION RIGHT, CAN YOU GET ANYTHING RIGHT?). BOTH GAMES START AT 7:00 P.M. TICKET PRICES FOR AGES 5-18 AND OVER 60 ARE $4.00.

AND HERE’S AN EVEN  BETTER DEAL:  IF YOU’RE A JUNIOR OR SENIOR HIGH SCHOOL STUDENT, YOU GET IN FREE BOTH NIGHTS (IF YOU’RE WEARING YOUR SCHOOL T SHIRT OR SWEAT SHIRT.) ARE THERE BETTER DEALS THAN THAT IN TOWN? I DOUBT IT.

MACALESTER IS 0-6, SIOUX FALLS IS 8-4, INCLUDING AN 87-80 WIN OVER UW STOUT. BE THERE TO SEE THE FALCONS RISE TO 11-2.

THE FALCONS ARE LED BY SHANE MANOR (JR., ALTOONA), JAKE VOELTZ (SR., RIVER FALLS), AND JONTAE KOONKAEW (SR., APPLE VALLEY) WITH 15, 13, AND 12 POINTS  PER GAME RESPECTIVELY. KOONKAEW IS COMING OFF A STELLAR PERFORMANCE AGAINST HAMLINE. HE SCORED 29 POINTS (CAREER HIGH), GRABBED 5 REBOUNDS, SHOT 9/12 ON FIELD GOALS AND 10/12 ON FREE THROWS, AND HAD ONLY ONE TURNOVER.

AND HERE, FOR PURPOSES OF FALCON MOTIVATION, IS A QUOTE FROM AN NBA ALL STAR:  WHEN ASKED WHETHER THE NEXT SEASON WOULD BE BETTER THAN THE DISASTROUS PRECEDING SEASON, JASON KIDD SAID “WE’RE GOING TO TURN THIS TEAM AROUND 360 DEGREES.”

THE FALCON MEN ACHIEVED A 73-60 BASKETBALL WIN OVER STEVENS POINT LAST SATURDAY, A FEAT THEY  HAD NOT ACCOMPLISHED SINCE 2004 WHEN RICH MELZER WAS A SENIOR AND UWRF WON THE LEAGUE CHAMPIONSHIP. THE POINTERS ARE THE REIGNING DIVISION 3 NATIONAL CHAMPIONS AND WERE RANKED NUMBER ONE IN THE COUNTRY BEFORE SATURDAY. POWERING THE WIN WERE FORMER RFHS WILDCAT JAKE VOELTZ  WITH A DOUBLE/DOUBLE, 17 POINTS AND 11 REBOUNDS ( 6 OF THEM OFFENSIVE REBOUNDS), AND JONTAE KOONKAEW, WITH 20 POINTS, FOUR ASSISTS, AND NO TURNOVERS. EIGHTEEN OF KOONKAEW’S POINTS CAME IN THE SECOND HALF. THE POINTERS LED 31-30 AT THE HALF. ROUNDING THE SCORING FOR THE FALCONS WERE SHANE MANOR WITH 13 POINTS AND AARON ANDERSON WITH 11. U.T. UDOW, A JUNIOR TRANSFER FROM MARY COLLEGE IN BISMARCK, ND, MADE SIGNIFICANT CONTRIBUTIONS WITH 8 POINTS AND 9 REBOUNDS IN 22 MINUTES OF PLAY. UDO’S FOUR FREE THROWS IN FOUR ATTEMPTS NEAR THE END OF THE GAME WERE NOTEWORTHY.

HOWEVER, THEY WILL NOT BE ABLE TO REST ON THEIR LAURELS AS EAU CLAIRE, WITH AN IDENTICAL 2-0 WIAC RECORD, WILL BATTLE THE FALCONS  FOR UNDISPUTED FIRST PLACE. GAME TIME IS 7:00 P.M., WEDNESDAY, DECEMBER 8 AT KARGES GYM.

THE FALCON WOMEN  WERE NOT AS FORTUNATE, LOSING TO STEVENS POINT 75-67. THE LADY FALCONS WERE LED BY BRITTANY GREGORICH WITH 18 POINTS. THEY WILL PLAY AT EAU CLAIRE THIS WEDNESDAY, DECEMBER 8. THE FALCON WOMEN MAY BE A YEAR AWAY FROM CHAMPIONSHIP CONTENTION BECAUSE THEY DO NOT START A SINGLE SENIOR. HOWEVER, DESPITE SHOOTING A POOR 37% TO STEVENS POINT’S 52%, THEY HUNG IN AND WERE COMPETITIVE.

SPEAKING OF MELZER, HE IS NOW PLAYING FOR HAPOEL HOLON, A TEAM IN ISRAEL. HE STARTS FOR THEM AND IS AVERAGING ABOUT TEN POINTS PER AGAME.

FINALLY, MORE FROM “GREAT THINKERS OF OUR TIME”:  ”SMOKING KILLS. IF YOU’RE KILLED, YOU’VE LOST A VERY IMPORTANT PART OF YOUR LIFE.” (SAID BY BROOKE SHIELDS , DURING AN INTERVIEW TO BECOME SPOKESPERSON FOR A FEDERAL  ANTI SMOKING CAMPAIGN.)

FOLLOWING LAST NIGHT’S TWO WINS OVER THE SUPERIOR YELLOW JACKETS, BOTH THE FALCON WOMEN (5-1, 1-0 WIAC), AND MEN (5-2, 1-0) LOOK FORWARD TO FACING THE STEVENS POINT TEAMS SATURDAY, DECEMBER 4, AT KARGES GYM. THE MEN’S GAME BEGINS AT  3:00 P.M., THE WOMEN’S AT 5:00. BOTH POINTER TEAMS ARE RANKED HIGHLY, THE MEN AT NO. 1, THE WOMEN AT 6TH.

LEADING THE WOMEN IN THEIR 78-58 WIN WEDNESDAY NIGHT AT KARGES GYM WAS TIFFANY GREGORICH. SHE HAD A DOUBLE/DOUBLE WITH 23 POINTS AND 11 REBOUNDS, AND WAS THE OUTSTANDING PLAYER ON THE FLOOR, AS WELL AS THE SHORTEST AT 5’5″. THE   FALCON WOMEN ARE A YOUNG TEAM WITH ONLY  ONE SENIOR, TESS LARDIE, A VERY CAPABLE RESERVE.

(INCIDENTALLY, KARGES, NAMED AFTER RUDOLPH KARGES, A FORMER CHEMISTRY PROFESSOR AND ATHLETIC BOOSTER AMONG FACULTY, IS PRONOUNCED “KAR-GUESS,” NOT “KAR-JESS,” A MIS-PRONUNCIATION HEARD FREQUENTLY OVER THE P.A. SYSTEM. HOW DO I KNOW? I KNEW  THE GUY AND HOW HE PRONOUNCED HIS NAME. IS THAT GOOD ENOUGH?)

THE MEN HAD A TOUGHER TIME AT SUPERIOR WEDNESDAY. NEVERTHELESS, THEY  PULLED OUT A 62-58 WIN, AND WERE LED BY JAKE VOELTZ, SHANE MANOR, AND BRIAN KIMBLE WITH 16, 14, AND 10 POINTS RESPECTIVELY.

IF YOU ARE NOT NOW MOTIVATED ENOUGH TO SHOW UP SATURDAY, THEN STAY AT HOME AND WATCH INFERIOR ATHLETIC ENTERTAINMENT OVER THE TUBE. YOU’RE OBVIOUSLY BEYOND HELP.

I’LL CLOSE WITH A QUOTE FROM “GREAT  THINKERS OF OUR TIME”:  ”WHENEVER I WATCH TV AND SEE THOSE POOR STARVING KIDS ALL OVER THE WORLD, I CAN’T HELP BUT CRY. I MEAN I’D LOVE TO BE SKINNY LIKE THAT BUT NOT WITH THOSE FLIES AND DEATH AND STUFF.” (SAID BY MARIAH CAREY.)

Falcon football coach John O’Grady ended his career on a high positive note November 13 as his team edged UW Eau Claire 45-42. Despite a final season record of 1-9, O’Grady’s players and former players honored him on the field after the game. Former players pinned a large plastic banner on the fence behind the Falcon bench showing a picture of O’Grady and a statement at the top:  ”Influencing Lives, One Game At A Time.” Under the statement was a long list of names of former players numbering over one hundred.

On the field the jubilant players shouted his name in chorus repeatedly at the end of a victory celebration. It was a fitting end to a long and successful coaching career at UW River Falls. A video of the celebration and final drive which assured the victory can be seen on the Falcon athletic site.

The men’s basketball season is now three games old and the Falcons are 3-0. Saturday, November 20, they beat Northwestern College of St. Paul 83-65 to clinch the championship of a two day tournament there. The night before they easily defeated Simpson College, 90-69. Two Falcons were named to the All Tournament:  Aaron Anderson, MVP, and Shane Manor.

There is reason to be optimistic about the upcoming hoops season. Four starters from last year return, along with a talented transfer from UW Superior. In addition, at least three new members and a returning sophomore have shown early promise.

Jontae Koonkaew, and Jake Voeltz, both honorable mention all conference players, Brady Hannigan, and Aaron Anderson return. All four are seniors. Voeltz is a former River Falls High School star. The transfer is junior Shane  Manor, a 6’6″ player who probably is the most completely skilled member of the team. He transferred to River Falls a year ago, but had to sit out last season because of the transfer. Lost this season is Wade Guerin, 6’8″  junior center, who had back surgery in August. He will return next season.

Along with the aforementioned players, three recruits/transfers are worthy of mention. U.T. Udow,  a 6’3,” junior transfer from Mary College, Bismarck, North Dakota, came off the bench to lead the team in scoring with 16 against Northwestern. Brian Kimble, a 6’0″ junior guard transferred from College of the Canyons in California. He is a capable player who will see a lot of action this season. Taylor Peterson, 6’3″, is a freshman guard from Roselle, Illinois. He has a shoulder injury now, but showed a lot of promise in the exhibition game at Concordia University in St. Paul. The returning sophomore, Ollie White, has earned a starting position.

The Falcons’ first real test will come Tuesday night, November 23, at St. Thomas, undefeated so far and ranked 14th in the nation (Division 3). The next home game is Saturday, December 4, at 3:00 p.m., against last year’s Division 3 National Champs, Stevens Point.

Evidently, Norm Van Brocklin, former Vikings coach, did not like sports writers. To wit, he once said:  ”If I ever needed a brain transplant, I’d choose a  sports writer. I’d want a brain that had never been used.” Obviously, I’m not a sports writer.