Column: My Past Meets The Present

I had one of those past-meets-present days on Wednesday—the kind that don’t come along very often but seem to work out just right. About a week ago I learned my alma mater, Luverne High School, was going to make its first-ever trip to the state boys’ hockey tournament. Anxiously I waited for the Minnesota State High School League’s website to post the tourney’s schedule so I could determine whether or not it was doable to get over to St. Paul to watch the game.

Naturally, Luverne would play on a Timberwolves game day. That made it difficult. But if it worked out just right, I’d be able to catch morning shootaround, get the quotes and content ready with the help of my colleague Kyle Ratke, then sneak away across the river for a couple hours to help support my hometown.

You have to understand, this isn’t exactly a regular occurrence. Luverne had never made it to the state hockey tournament before, and generally the teams that come out of our particular conference and section don’t have a great track record at state. They don’t usually match up well with the perennial contenders like Hermantown, St. Thomas Academy and Warroad. It just doesn’t happen. So not only making it to the tournament but also having a chance to face Hermantown right away requires a ton of organic support from our town of 4,800. That includes alumni who proudly grew up there and have since relocated.

So as luck would have it, the Knicks had shootaround availability at 9:30 a.m., and Luverne played at 11. I covered New York, Ratke covered Minnesota, we combined quotes together for our shootaround and GameDay Live Blog pregame notes, and we had a portion of our afternoon game day content covered even with Luverne playing right in the middle.

I went to the game, got a chance to catch up with family, old friends and former teachers, and I once again got the opportunity to appreciate the school spirit and hometown energy that makes state tournaments in Minnesota. I used to cover a bunch of state tournaments ranging from hockey and basketball to swimming and danceline. It doesn’t matter what sport it is in here in Minnesota, the state tournaments bring out the very best in these athletes and their fan bases.

That was another nice little blast from the past.

And after the game, I returned to Target Center for the nightcap of my day-night doubleheader: The Wolves hosted the New York Knicks that that evening. It was my childhood, early career and current position coming full circle all in the span of a few hours.

Now, the games themselves didn’t go exactly as I might’ve drawn this fairytale up. Luverne lost to Hermantown that morning—although they played an incredible game, and I was impressed with how strong their team was from top to bottom—and the Wolves dropped a winnable game against the Knicks that night. But both teams got a little redemption later in the week. Luverne won its next game against Chisago Lakes in the consolation semifinals, and the Wolves responded by dominating the Pistons for three quarters in a 114-101 win over Detroit on Friday night.

Both my teams got back on track quickly.

I’m proud of my hometown, not only for the effort their hockey team put together this week at the state tournament but also for the support they provided in the team’s journey. It was great to see so many familiar faces at the X this week, all of whom were wearing the Cardinals’ red and white. It brought me back to a time when I, too, either played for those LHS teams or wore Cardinals colors to support my own classmates.

And just as quickly as that game ended, I was transported back to present day where I do get to enjoy the dream job I hoped for when I was sitting in those Luverne High School classrooms a decade ago.

A lot has happened since then, and I wouldn’t have changed any of it.

That’s what made Wednesday so special.

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