Here are the first Minnesota volleyball preseason rankings of the year:
Class AAA Rankings
1. Eagan (8)
2. Prior Lake
3. Lakeville North
5. Champlin Park
7. East Ridge
Class AA Rankings
1. Maple Lake (8)
4. Southwest Christian
6. North Branch
7. Sauk Centre
Class A Rankings
1. Mayer Lutheran (8)
4. Bethlehem Academy
6. Rush City
8. Wadena-Deer Creek
The first Minnesota volleyball rankings are out. Lots of good volleyball teams make their home in southeast Minnesota and we’ll have coverage on our website at bluffcountrynews.com. Spread the word for family and friends that live out of town.
Southeast Minnesota has several good teams in the Class A and Class AA rankings. The first official day of practice is August 14. Fall sports is basically upon us. Can’t wait to get going on the seasons again.
The Med City Freeze open Southern Plains Football League play on Saturday, April 30, at the RCTC Regional Stadium in Rochester, Kickoff is at 7. (photo from hometeamsonline.com)
The Southern Plains Football League officially has a new member from Rochester. Say hello to the Med City Freeze football, a new amateur team featuring players from around southern Minnesota, Iowa, and as far away as Chicago, Illinois and Atlanta, Georgia.
Three men from Rochester are the leaders in getting amateur football back in the area. Rochester John Marshall graduates Storm Soto, Tim Nela, and Jeff Sipple all love football, and simply wanted to bring amateur competition back home to Rochester.
“Jeff and I played for another team in the league, the South Central Hawgs (in Truman, MN),” said Soto, “and we had been commuting back and forth for three years. After the most recent season, we sat down and built a plan to do this in Rochester. We asked Tim to join us and founded the Med City Freeze.”
Tim Nela is a Rochester native and listed as a running back on the current Freeze roster. They’re excited to bring a brand new team into an already established league.Haw
“It is 9-man, amateur tackle football,” Nela said, “and it’s an adult league, so players are 18-plus. We’ve brought a team to a league that’s already established in its twentieth year. It’s not a situation where we created a team and then created a league.”
Three Rochester John Marshall graduates spearheaded the effort to bring amateur football back to Rochester. From left: Jeff Sipple, Tim Nela, and Storm Soto. (photo by Chad Smith)
That doesn’t necessarily mean the new roster has no experience in Southern Plains league play.
“Storm is going into his fifth season,” Nela said, “and Jeff is going into his fourth. This will be my first season in the league.”
Other veterans on the roster include Nathan Polansky, a running back from Rochester in his third season, as well as Duane Quam, a fullback/linebacker from Byron, who is going into his third season.
How does a brand new team go about finding players to fill out the roster? In a word: tryouts.
“We had a series of two open tryouts,” said Soto. “We evaluated players based on skill level and picked the strongest 40. We can have a roster of up to 50, but only 40 can dress, so we stuck with that number.”
Soto added, “We all have a lot of confidence in the roster we’ve assembled.”
The roster includes a lot of recognizable players from Rochester and some familiar names from around southern Minnesota as well.
“They’re kind of from all over,” said Soto. “Rochester, primarily, but we have people from Jackson, Minnesota who are traveling down I-90 to play, as well as players from Plainview, Pine Island, and Stewartville.”
It’s already time to start practicing for the April 30th opener against the North Iowa Bucks at the Rochester Community and Technical College Regional Stadium. The first practice is actually this Sunday, February 21.
“A lot of guys have been training on their own,” Nela said. “It’s crazy. For example, we were already up at working out at 5:00 this morning. We believe so much in what we’ve assembled that when the first game hits, we’re ready to put on a show.”
Between now and the first game, the biggest challenge will be to get a roster of players who’ve never been on the field together to gel into a unit.
“It’s going to be a big challenge,” said Soto. “There’s a lot of new personalities that we’re taking on, but the key will be to have everyone buy into what we’re doing. If they do that, I’m confident we can go all the way to an SPFL championship.”
The team locations range from eastern South Dakota, through Minnesota, and all the way into Iowa. The Freeze will be members of the Eastern Division, so they won’t have to travel quite that far.
It is amateur level competition, but the three-team founders said don’t let that fool you. You may be surprised at how skilled some of the players are.
The skill-set has a good range,” Soto said. “In this league, you have high school players all the way up to former NCAA Division One players. Last year we played against four or five guys that were Division One, including players from the University of Northern Iowa and the University of Minnesota.”
He added, “It’s a very physical and demanding league.”
The Freeze has coaches ready to start practice on Sunday.
There are costs associated with getting a brand new team off the ground. The Freeze began a Kickstarter campaign to help offset some of those costs, and they’d appreciate any help the public can give:
The Freeze kick off the season on Saturday, April 30, at the RCTC regional stadium with a 7:00 kickoff against the North Iowa Bucks.