Chad Greenway talks Vikings football

Chad Greenway talks Vikings football

US Bank Stadium is the site for a Thursday night game between the Minnesota Vikings and visiting Dallas Cowboys. The Vikings are in need of a big win as the game kicks off around 7:30 central time. (photo from ESPN.com)

The Vikings host the Dallas Cowboys on Thursday night in a prime time NFL game at U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis. There’s no question the purple are in need of a quality win over a good team to get their mojo back from earlier in the season. Remember when the team was 5-0 and a “Super Bowl contender?” Sigh.

Chad Greenway took some time this week to speak with reporters about the upcoming game. My first encounter with Greenway took place a long time ago at the Dakota Dome in Vermillion, South Dakota. He was the quarterback/middle linebacker for Stickney-Mount Vernon as they took on my hometown Castlewood Warriors for the 9AA state championship. Most football teams talk about setting the tone early in the game, correct? Sticky-Mount Vernon set it during pregame warmups.

I was a young broadcaster doing sideline reporting and watched as the black-clad team took the field. I thought a college team got their schedules mixed up and were ready to take on the University of South Dakota Coyotes. Sticky-MV was a big squad. Castlewood relied on speed so they were looking at an uphill climb before the opening kickoff.

You can just tell about some players. Chad Greenway was a man among boys that afternoon on the astroturf. His talent level was so far above anyone else’s on the field, either his teammates or the opposition, that you just knew he was going places. He certainly did.

After a stellar career at Iowa as a Hawkeye, he’s been a Viking stalwart for a long time. The thing I like most about the guy, who just happens to be a fellow native South Dakotan is he doesn’t seem to have forgotten where he comes from. That’s a rare thing in today’s professional sports. Here’s some thoughts from Chad (Greenway, not Smith) on Dallas.

Med City Freeze prepare for season two

“Season two (for the Med City Freeze) is going to be a lot of fun.”

Those are the first words Tim Nela chose to say as he thought about the two rounds of tryouts the Med City Freeze held in recent months.  The Freeze held the tryouts to fill out their 2017 roster for the Southern Plains Football League season next year. That’s not the only reason they’re holding tryouts. They also need to put their team together to take part in the 2016 Winter Pigskin Classic coming up on December 17th at U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis.

“We definitely established a coaching staff,” said Nela, one of the four founders of the Freeze, “that was the main focus the first year (in 2016). Now we have players coming over from other teams that are coming over and we’ve got people who’ve played at all different levels of football.”

Med City Freeze football

The Med City Freeze football team hosted tryouts for the 2017 roster at the Rochester Community and Technical College campus in Rochester, Minnesota, on Friday, October 21. The Freeze will play in the Winter Pigskin Classic on December 17 at U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis. (Photo by Chad Smith)

Storm Soto is another one of the team founders, and he said the difference between year one and year two is incredible. The number of people trying out for the team last year was considerably lower than the number that turned out at the recent tryouts.

“Now that year one is done and everyone saw the success,” Soto said, “and year two is booming. It’s one of those unfortunate things that some really talented players won’t make the Freeze roster this year because of so much talent to choose from.”

He said people might be more attracted to the team because the Freeze were 7-1 in their inaugural season. Soto said players were able to see the kind of quality organization they put together and the good competition they play on a weekly basis during the season.

This year was a clean slate as far as filling the roster. Everyone that was on the roster last year was required to try out again, even Soto, Nela, and Jeff Sipple, the third team founder (Joseph Hockert is the fourth). Soto said some of the guys who made the team last year likely won’t make the roster this season.

“We aren’t just looking for the best athletes,” Soto said, “we’re looking for the best people too. The Freeze want people who are going to fit in with what we do. We want tenacious attitudes on the field but we don’t want attitude off the field.”

Nela described the drills at both tryout sessions as “pro style.” They didn’t necessarily do a bench press and run a 40-yard dash like players do at the NFL combine, but they did do a lot of conditioning drills.

“Jeff (Sipple) had the best times for all the agility drills,” Nela said, “but he worked harder than anybody in the offseason. Being the quarterback and one of the (team) founders, he understands that if you want to be on the field, you have to be willing to work for it.”

Soto said most of the players showed up in good condition. He called a couple of the players they’re adding to the roster next year, “studs.” Nela liked what he saw from the prospective Freeze players.

“They were guys out there that brought a different type of energy that we didn’t have in season one,” Nela said. “Some of these guys are going to make plays on the field, but off the field with the things we do outside of football, even on things like bus rides, they’ll be very good for the team.”

Soto said the Freeze have a big chunk of the roster already filled out and they hope to have everything done and players called in the next several days. There’s even more urgency than normal because the Freeze will be taking part in the Winter Pigskin Classic on December 17 at U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis.

“The (SPFL) league has put this on in the past at the Metrodome,” Soto said. “I think it shows a lot about the credibility of the SPFL to do something like this. I give a lot to league commissioner Jay Doyscher, who has busted his tail to legitimize this league, and I commend him for making this a possibility for amateur football players.”

The league will have games running all day at U.S. Bank Stadium, and Nela said it’s a great opportunity to see the stadium for those folks who haven’t been able to make it to a Vikings game.

“It’s $15, you could spend all day out there and watch some good football,” Nela said. “We’re playing the Buffalo Ridge Wildcats, an undefeated team last year that featured the best offense in the league.”

The team will have half a dozen practices to install the offense and defense, getting everyone in their right positions. The Freeze game kicks off at 6p.m., but the gates open for the all-day event at 9 that morning.

The Freeze will be hosting a couple of fans buses for those who don’t want to drive to the Cities and pay for parking. Pre-sale tickets are $15 dollars, with the door price at $20. For more information, check out the Med City Freeze Facebook page or email medcityfreeze@gmail.com.

Building a football team on October 21st at the RCTC campus.

Med City Freeze debut on Saturday night

The Med City Freeze is set to make its Southern Plains Football League debut on Saturday night against the North Iowa Bucks. Kickoff is at 7:00 at the Rochester Community and Technical College Regional Stadium.

The last several weeks have involved practicing and getting the offensive and defensive systems in place, as well as getting a new team used to playing together. It’s been a lot of hard work for the Freeze to get to this point.

Practice a grind

“From the football aspect of things, it’s been a grind,” said Storm Soto, Med City Freeze co-founder, Team President, and tight end. “We extended some of our recent practices from two hours to three to get some good work in.

Med City Freeze make their debut.

The Med City Freeze, pictured at a recent practice, is getting set for their debut game on Saturday in Rochester against the North Iowa Bucks. Kickoff is at 7 at the RCTC football field.

“From the organizational side of things, we’re still working on things like getting sponsorships,” Soto said. “We’ve also been making commercials and things like that, and this final week before the game will involve getting things all set up.”

Dalton Haas is the offensive coordinator who runs the play calling. He’s a two-year league veteran as a player and was a Rochester John Marshall standout. He said practices really took off once the players really got the playbook down pat.

“Everyone is getting comfortable,” said Haas, “they don’t have to think about the plays called, they’re just going out and making plays. The transition from the first practice to the seventh was amazing with the number of big plays in practice.”

Players in good condition

There wasn’t a lot of extra conditioning work necessary as most players came into practice in good shape. That allowed the Freeze to really get to work on learning the plays.

“A majority came in good shape,” Soto said.   “You could tell a lot of guys put in extra work in on their own from the first week of practice up until now. I think we’re going to be one of the best conditioned teams in the league.”

Balance on offense

As the team has picked up the offensive playbook, it looks like the key word to describe their playing style is balance. Freeze fans should see a good mix of running and passing the football.

“You’ll see a good dose of the running game,” Soto said, “and our passing game will feature plays out of all of our formations and sets. Our passing style will be aggressive, and we’ve got the right players to do so.”

Fans will see all kinds of well-known football sets they see in other football leagues.

Med city Freeze make their debut.

It’s offense versus defense pictured here at a recent Med City Freeze practice. Physical and gritty is how they describe their style of play as they open the season Saturday in Rochester. Kickoff at RCTC field is 7:00.

“You’ll see a little bit of everything,” Haas said. “You’ll see Pro-I, shotgun, passing, running, with nothing to complicated, just being solid on the basics.”

Learning curve for new team

Getting a brand new team to learn to play together was a challenge. However, there might have been some benefits to being a brand new club.

“In a way, I think it was a good thing,” Haas said, “because everyone started at square one. Everyone was learning together, so the learning curve was equal for the whole team. It was a good bonding experience, because we had players who were catching on helping those who were a little behind.”

The Freeze is a brand new team this year, but they do have some Southern Plains Football League veterans to build around, including a couple players who helped to found the team.

“Storm Soto has played five years,” Haas said, “our quarterback, Jeff Sipple, has played four years, so we have some experience. We have a lot of people who’ve played at all levels, from high school all the way up to D1-AA, so we’ve got a lot of football experience overall.”

Physical style up front

The best way to describe this year’s team is physical and gritty, and its starts with the big boys up front.

“We’ve got guys up front that don’t mind getting after it and putting people on their butts,” Soto said. “Our defense will be physical, and in the secondary we have great length and speed. Linebackers are physical and they get to the football quickly.”

As mentioned, Dalton Haas is the OC. He and Brandon Luhmann handle the offense. Jordan Pogalz is the defensive coordinator and Jason Born is a defensive assistant.

First game keys

The goal against the North Iowa Bucks is obviously to win the game, but to get there, it’s going to be very important for a brand new club to make as few mistakes as possible.

Med City Freeze make their debut.

The RCTC football field in Rochester is the home field of the Yellowjackets, and will be the home field Saturday for the Med City Freeze in their Southern Plains Football League debut on Saturday at 7pm.

“Just the basics of not fumbling the football,” Haas said, “and each player just doing his assignments on not getting carried away. It’s all about fundamentals, and when that happens, everything else will fall into place. I think the biggest thing is we’re just anxious to get out and play someone else.”

With roster turnover from year to year, it’s hard to know exactly what to expect from North Iowa on Saturday.

“They have a lot of good talent over there,” Soto said, “but year in and year out it’s hard to tell because teams are always recruiting someone different, so it’s hard to get a scouting report. That first week is where you get your scouting reports, and then you trade notes with other organizations.

“The biggest key will be to put four good quarters together,” Soto said, “and fly around the field from start to finish.”

Admission is only $6 per person, and 13 and under gets in for free.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tony Stewart announces retirement from NASCAR

Four time NASCAR champ Tony Stewart announced his retirement today..

I’ve never been a huge NASCAR fan.  After all, they drive in circles and turn left a lot.  Okay, I’m kidding.  I know there’s a whole lot more to it than that.  It takes a lot of skill to drive at that level, and in terms of sheer racing skill, few could drive better than this guy.

Of course, he didn’t always help himself.  He was a huge hothead in his younger days.  He still can be, although, he’s 45 (the same age I am) and I can tell you it’s not as easy to get that irate as it was 20 years ago.  It takes way too much energy.

But in the era of Jimmie Johnson and Jeff Gordon as the dominant racers of their day, this guy doesn’t have to take a backseat to anyone.

He said during the conference that the tragic accident resulting in the death of Kevin Ward, Jr. had nothing to do with his decision.  I’m not sure that’s 100% true.  He’s 0nly human, and that would be a burden far too difficult to carry and still remain at the top of your game.  Wouldn’t you see that every time you got behind the wheel of a racecar?

He’s still sticking around NASCAR as an owner, but he won’t give up racing entirely.  He’ll still do some racing, but it just won’t be in the Sprint Cup Series anymore.

This is his opening statement from the press conference earlier today:

 

The day Sleepy Eye met Babe Ruth in 1922

Major League Baseball is getting into the stretch run of its 2014 season.   We love our baseball, hot dogs, apple pie, and Chevrolet, as the old song goes. The American pastime is featured in many of the countries biggest cities, and occasionally, some of our smaller cities and towns too.

All the way back in 1922, one of Major League Baseball’s biggest stars showed up in one of America’s smallest cities. A fellow by the name of George Herman Ruth, affectionately known as Babe, made an appearance in Sleepy Eye, Minnesota, an event they still talk about today.

Babe Ruth and Bob Meusel pose for a picture before a barnstorming game in Sleepy Eye, Minnesota, in 1922 (Photo courtesy of the Brown County Historical Society)

Babe Ruth and Bob Meusel pose for a picture before a barnstorming game in Sleepy Eye, Minnesota, in 1922 (Photo courtesy of the Brown County Historical Society)

Life was a lot different for the biggest Major League Baseball stars back then. There were no multi-million dollar salaries, and money was only just beginning to flow into baseball, as it was the only major pro sports league of its time.

Babe Ruth was one of the reasons money had begun to flow into Major League Baseball. In March of 1922, he signed a three-year contract with the New York Yankees for 52,000 dollars. His reason for signing that contract? “He wanted to make a grand a week,” said Randy Krzmarzik, a Sleepy Eye resident who’s written a couple in-depth articles on the Babe’s visit to the area.

Ruth, like many major leaguers of hid time, would conduct what he called “barnstorming” trips. “Up to that point, he was making more money on the trips than he was in baseball,” said Krzmarzik.   “He continued to barnstorm, even after signing the contract, because it was so lucrative,” said Krzmarzik. “Plus, I think he was someone who really enjoyed getting out, and the idea of sitting around doing nothing during the offseason, when he could be out making money, meeting people, and hitting home runs, was too good to pass up.”

No one is sure how the tiny town of Sleepy Eye got on the same barnstorming schedule as bigger towns like Denver, Kansas City, and Omaha. “It’s always been a little bit of a mystery,” said Krzmarzik. “I’ve never really found something that said this is the specific reason.“ There seem to have been a couple different theories floating around since then.

One theory involved the Knights of Columbus. Krzmarzik said, “One rumor is that some of the local chapter of the Knights of Columbus got involved in attracting Ruth to Sleepy Eye.” Ruth was a Catholic, and was said to be fond of the local KC chapters that honored him in New York.

The Herald-Dispatch newspaper at that time was quick to credit the local business community. The paper was quick to praise the “alertness of the Sleepy Eye businessmen” for securing the visit of the stars.

In addition to the Babe, the barnstorming tour included his teammate, Bob Meusel. They left for the tour on October 11, the day after that year’s World Series finished up.

The stop in Sleepy Eye was initially intended to be a for-profit venture. Krzmarzik said, “The stars were to receive the first 2,000 dollars of the gate receipts, less a war tax.” Anything after that was to go to the event promoters for profit.

Randy Krzmarzick of Sleepy Eye, Minnesota, has written articles on Babe Ruth’s visit to Sleepy Eye back in 1922 (Photo courtesy of SleepyEyeOnline.com)

Randy Krzmarzick of Sleepy Eye, Minnesota, has written articles on Babe Ruth’s visit to Sleepy Eye back in 1922 (Photo courtesy of SleepyEyeOnline.com)

The promoters were hoping for a big turnout, and installed temporary seating all the way down the foul lines. They were hoping for a crowd of up to 10,000, or at least a large turnout if the October weather would cooperate. It did not.

The big day was set for Monday, October 16. As the sun began to rise, temperatures were sitting at a low of 27 degrees, with a bitter Northwest wind blowing, and the first snow flurries of the year riding the air currents.

The Brown County Journal newspaper said, “There was no guarantee of a minimum payment to the stars, so Babe and Bob gambled against the weather conditions, popularity, etc., and lost at Sleepy Eye.” Krzmarzik said, “It may not have been a money-making event, but it still was a memorable day for those who braved the weather.”

About 500 people showed up at the event, some coming from as far away as the Twin Cities and Marshall.

After an all-night train ride from Omaha, the stars were greeted by a very chilly band, and presented a key to the city by then Sleepy Eye Mayor Fialka.

After all the festivities wrapped up it was time to play baseball with the Yankee stars. Babe and Bob played on different teams, with some of the best players around southern Minnesota were enlisted to fill out the teams. Krzmarzik said, “Local Brown County players included Wally Cady of Comfrey, Art Mach and Roy Black from Springfield, Bill Born Roy Borchert of New Ulm, and Noel Hoffmann and Len Current of Sleepy Eye.”

Ruth showed his baseball versatility, playing right field, then second base, and lastly, pitched the ninth inning. His forte, as baseball fans know, was hitting. He hit two long home runs off Sleepy Eye’s town team pitcher Sylvester “Sox” Schueller. The New Ulm Review said the home runs were, “Wicked liners and not rising more than 50 feet off the ground.”

Schueller was quoted years later as saying, “He hit those balls so hard, they still ain’t found them yet!” Krzmarzik said someone claimed to have found one of the baseballs after the game. “There was somebody that claimed to have a ball Babe hit, but I don’t know if we can prove that,” said Krzmarzik. “Where the actual home runs ended up, I have no idea.

Meusel played left field for the other team and went hitless. Ruth’s team wound up winning the game by a 9 to 7 score.

After the game, Ruth and his entourage attended a banquet at Saint Mary’s High school auditorium, which is now the second floor of the elementary school. Then, they held a dance at the Standard Opera House, above where the palace is now. The Yankee stars then hopped on a train for Sioux Falls, South Dakota, and another game the next day.

The visit to Sleepy Eye must have made an impression on the baseball legend. Krzmarzik said, “During an interview the next day, Ruth told a local reporter he couldn’t believe how many people came out to watch the game in Sleepy Eye because the weather was so cold and miserable.”

Here is a link to a very good story done by Fox Sports on the Babe’s visit to Sleepy Eye:

http://www.foxsports.com/north/video/remembering-babe-ruth-s-visit-sleepy-eye-minn-071014