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Winter sports are upon us

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opinion Wadena, 56482

Wadena Minnesota 314 S. Jefferson, P.O. Box 31 56482

When this column hits the newsstands, Wadena-Deer Creek High School will already be knee-deep in the 2013-14 winter sports season. Dance, wrestling, boys and girls basketball, boys and girls hockey, and cheerleading will be rolling, not to mention the conclusion of the fall play in the Memorial Auditorium. Winter is a time when one needs a shoe horn to fit another activity in our gyms and ice sheets. Then our glorious Minnesota winter will show herself and already crazy winter sports schedules will become even crazier as activities directors scramble to make up lost games.

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Some new coaches have joined the ranks at Wadena-Deer Creek. Jason Mielke joins the staff as head boys basketball coach. Jason, a third-grade teacher at WDC Elementary, has a wealth of basketball experience with boys and girls. He is joined by Josh Hendrickx, a New York Mills alumnus, and former WDC three-sport standout Kevin Tumberg, who will guide the C-squad. Katrina Wahlin moves up to be the assistant girls basketball coach, while fellow Crookston Pirate alum and current WDC head girls tennis coach Katy Westrom also joins the girls' hoops staff. Veteran head coaches Beth Motschenbacher (dance), George Behl (girls hockey), Keith Ferris (girls basketball), Chris Holman (boys hockey), Holly Becker (cheerleading) and myself (wrestling) all return to action guiding our winter programs.

In addition to new coaches, our coaches have added some new opportunities for our student-athletes. Expectations for student strength and speed training are now more uniform throughout all of our programs and for all of our athletes. Training will be held for students in grades 9 to 12 Monday, Wednesday, and Friday mornings from 7 to 7:45 a.m. The program will consist of core lifts and training that will benefit all of our student-athletes in all of our sports. Student-athletes will be encouraged to complete two trainings per week if they are in an activity and three if they are not. Additionally, eighth-grade students will be trained on proper technique and form in physical education classes.

The new training program is an extension of the summer W.I.N. program that was highly successful and was sponsored through our WDC Community Education program. The purpose of the extra training is three-fold. First, stronger student-athletes will be healthier and less prone to injury. Second, strength and speed help build confidence. Lastly, by having our athletes all participate in the same program at the same time, we as coaches, believe we can build more cohesive teams and student-athletes can better encourage each other and we hope to encourage more students to be involved in multiple activities throughout the year.

As WDC has faced declining enrollment over the years, we have seen the number of participants in extracurricular activities decline as well. In the "old days" when WDC graduated 120-plus students, it was a little less noticeable when students didn't participate in more than one season. As we have gotten smaller, it has become a lot more noticeable. We, and hopefully as a community in general, want to encourage students to take part in as many activities as possible and enjoy working with their friends and contributing to the success of as many school-related activities as possible.

As the winter season approaches, I invite our communities of Wadena, Deer Creek and Bluffton to come to our gyms, auditorium, and ice arena. Our kids will be working hard and working not only for a good season, but laying the groundwork for a culture of success in the future. I encourage our communities to also support the kids as they work to become stronger, faster, and more confident. I look forward to a good season and seeing full bleachers cheering for the Blue and Gold.

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