Reader Reply: February 2022

What’s your favorite memory from a high school sports team?

It was on the football field in Anamoose on a September Friday night in 1984 where the cheering, whooping and hollering took place. The crowd was going crazy and the players were jumping up and down in jubilation. A bystander would have thought this team had won the state championship, due to all the excitement. But no!

All this excitement and celebrating was because, after 24 consecutive losses, the school finally won a game! It was a 6-0 victory over the school they last defeated in the fall of 1981. The only score came on a 98-yard, record-setting scamper down the sideline within inches of going out of bounds.

The touchdown run and breaking the losing streak made local news and even earned a little blurb in USA Today. This is my favorite memory of many of my high school playing days.

Mike Rott
Verendrye Electric Cooperative

Because I was raised on a farm and spent my first eight years of learning in a country school, I did not have much exposure to sports, with the exception of playing softball during recess. I was interested in baseball, as my hero was Ted Williams, who played for the Boston Red Sox.

When I was in eighth grade, my oldest brother, Ernie, played for the Willow City Redwings as a senior and they won the state Class C tournament. I started high school the next fall and was really looking forward to being a basketball “Redwing.” However, because of health problems my father encountered, plus bad roads in the winter, my brother, Curtis, and I were not able to participate in basketball, as we were needed at home for cow milking and other farm chores.

When I was a junior in high school, my brother convinced my parents I wasn’t needed as much as before, because my two sisters were old enough to help with chores. I was student manager for the team and what a wonderful, happy year it was. Our Willow City Redwings went on to win the state Class C tournament just three years after my oldest brother played.

Sports writers noted the special achievement by a school of 75 students to win two state championships with new players and different coaches in three years.

I was only the student manager, but I was so pleased to be a part of that team. I felt if I ever had children, I would encourage them to get involved in sports. My wife and I had four children: two boys and two girls. They all got to play at the regional tournament for the Redwings.

I had the good fortune to watch my grandson, Warren, start for the Rugby Panthers when he was a junior and senior. The Panthers qualified for the state Class B tournament, but were not able to play because of COVID-19. The Panthers came back the next year with only two returning starters and took sixth place in the state tournament in March 2021.

I hope the joys I shared with them about the special time I spent as a student manager for the Redwings gave them the interest to play sports in high school. I still love to watch high school basketball whenever and wherever I can, but the Redwing team of 1956 will always be my special time in high school sports.

David Medalen
North Central Electric Cooperative

My favorite memory from a high school sports team is the play day event. In the 1950s, in the month of May, this one-day, outdoor, all-school event was for schools in McHenry County and took place at the Upham school. My participation was having an entry in the high jump and broad jump.

I was a tall teen and could claim the best jumps in both events. Ribbons were awarded for the first, second and third places in each event. It was a fun day, when we were together with schools from the north half of the county.

During those years, the city schools in the county numbered nine, with four in the north half – Deering, Granville, Towner and Upham – plus the one-room country and consolidated schools, which all participated in the annual play day.

Lucille Loftesnes
Verendrye Electric Cooperative

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