If a person can age 10 years in nine months, I think I, along with many coaches, athletes, and parents, may have done so between last September and May. Between the limbo of starting or not starting fall sports, then starting winter late and all of the other challenges and curveballs that Covid threw at us last year, the summer break and reset was probably needed more this past summer than in any other, certainly in my career and maybe in the history of the educational system.

With that being said, I’d like to say a sincere and heartfelt thank you to all of our students, coaches/advisors, fans, officials, bus drivers and school staff and administration who made things as good as they possibly could be for our students last year. I have said many times over my career, “Greatness is defined by how you deal with adversity.” I want to stress how truly great our school district, students and community are. There were many challenges that came our way, but we showed our Wolverine Pride and truly made the best of some difficult circumstances. I am truly thankful to our fans and athletes who followed guidelines, whether they agreed with them or not, to allow us to play and participate. I appreciate the respect with which I and our supervisors were treated while working through the pandemic and all of the various rules.

While we are seeing that the pandemic is not yet over, we are expecting a return to a more normal experience, both in school and in the athletic and fine arts arenas. Full, pre-covid schedules have been prepared, along with planning for regular concessions and normal levels of excitement and crowds at our contests. While we know this could change, it is refreshing to plan for “normal” high school experiences.

While very little of the Covid experience over the past year and half has been positive, I think there are some positive changes that you will continue to see based on last year. WDC will continue to offer online ticketing. That went well and allows for people to utilize debit cards instead of bringing cash to the games. It made for quicker check-ins for fans and is helpful for us as a district in that we are not dealing with as much cash on a nightly basis. We will be expanding this to allow people to purchase season passes online as well.

Livestreaming, at least at the Varsity, JV and C levels, is also here to stay. Livestreaming was well received and allows more people access to our events. We have made the investment in the infrastructure to do this in our main gymnasium and football field to continue to offer this service to our fans, as well as visiting fans.

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I hope to see everyone back at our activities this year. As things began to open up in the spring, I was so inspired and encouraged by the following we had at our spring activities. If you were at the section final for baseball in Deer Creek, you know exactly what I mean. High school sports and fine arts are a great place for our community to gather and something we can all take pride in. The school and community pride that was on display last spring was incredible and I hope it continues as we open the gym for volleyball, the courts for tennis, the field for football and the course for cross country.

One of the real issues we continue to face in Minnesota is a lack of qualified high school officials as well as bus drivers. Official numbers are at a critical level. We are going to see, and we did see last year, changes in schedules and cancellation of events because people are not officiating. We have a huge need for junior high officials in sports like volleyball, basketball, and baseball/softball. If you have a passion for the game, enjoy kids and want to earn a little spending money, please contact me and I will get you started. For those interested in officiating at the Varsity/JV level, I can put you in contact with people who can help you. Check for yourself at www.mshsl.org to find out more about officiating at the high school level.

Bus drivers are also needed. We can’t travel if there is no one to drive. It’s as simple as that. As one drives through Minnesota, nearly every town or hamlet has a sign begging for bus drivers. WDC is no different. We need you, if you are qualified to drive. Contact the school, help our kids.

I’d like to say Covid is no longer a concern, but, if you’ve been watching the news, you know that is not the case. Cases are going up and talk of masks and protocols continue to swirl as I am writing this article. We are going to have to continue to practice good hygiene, stay home if we are sick and be constantly aware of what is happening. I know that no matter what the circumstances, we have great people in place to help guide our young people and get through anything that comes our way. We are planning on having a great year at WDC. Our coaches, advisors and students are excited to get going and excited to represent our school and communities.

Thank you for your continued support of our student athletes and artists. Wadena-Deer Creek is a great place to be and our communities are strong and vibrant. We will continue to do our best to provide a positive and healthy environment for our students to grow and learn.

Go Wolverines!