by Paul Langfellow
This past weekend MYAS hosted the Girls Grade State Championships grades 3-8 at 14 different sites, marking the 32nd year of the popular event featuring teams from across the state. The growth of the tournament has once again exceeded the previous year.
Tom Paulson, White Bear Lake Boys Head Track Coach and host coordinator for the championships held at White Bear Lake High Schools’ South Campus, talked about the importance of the event as a key fundraiser. “This tournament is actually being run by the girls track team, they will be using this for buying clothing for team members, hiring additional coaches and putting on the awards banquet,” he explained. “This is my 20th year of doing tournaments with MYAS, so I know what to expect.”
Having recently opened a new field house for athletic events, Paulson noted that White Bear’s improved facilities make it a plus to have everything at one site. “The field house has a 200 meter track which I am pretty excited about!” said Paulson. “We are the only high school in Minnesota that has a 200 meter indoor track that can be used for track meets. The field house also has five basketball courts—it’s just a great multipurpose facility.”
For Brianna Seibel, co-head coach of the White Bear Lake Girls Track and Field program, fundraising has not always been easy. “In the past our program has not done a ton of fundraising, it is mostly passive fundraising. We’re excited to offer team warm ups as apart of the fundraiser so that our whole program is matching,” she explained.
Siebel stresses how accessible track is for a broad range of athletic abilities and financial incomes. “We are hoping to be able to offer scholarships for students whether that is in the form of track shoes, spikes, or registration fees,” she said. Previously other programs have benefited from the MYAS Grade State Tournament, but this was the first year for the Girls Track Team to be involved. “This will be a huge influx in funding, we are excited about the opportunities this fundraiser will offer.”
Hosting such a large state championship, meant everyone helping out. “We have a mixture of athlete parents and students helping with the tournament—they’re doing admissions, court supervision and concessions,” said Seibel.
Last weekend’s tournament was an overall success for both the program and for players and coaches involved with Grade State. “It’s a great tournament, the seeding works really well,” recognized Coach Jackie Tewes from Jordan 5th Grade Maroon. “We were really able to get in a bracket where there is very equal and level playing which is nice— just to give you a better idea of where your team is falling throughout the whole state.”
That wasn’t always the case with other tournaments that her team played in earlier during the season. “It’s nice that we have a tournament like this where we can have more equal competition,” said Tewes. “I think the biggest thing I want for my girls to learn is to truly put everything together that they learned throughout the year and understand how basketball is such a team sport. Some girls are going to have good days. Some girls are going to have bad days. It never depends on one person. Hopefully by now they are a team and they are there for each other. When we work together that’s when we play our best.”
White Bear Lake High School hopes to continue working with MYAS in the future to further expand the tournament. Tom Paulson is optimistic about the future of the Grade State Tournaments. “I think it’s great to see the youth doing activities,” he said. “MYAS does a great job on that part of it.”
In addition to White Bear Lake, Fridley High School and Fridley Middle School also hosted last weekend’s Grade State tournament. Jason Karsten, Fridley site coordinator, explained how he hopes the tournament will benefit the program overall. “The money made helps defray registration fees for players in our program. It goes into our general fund and helps pay for uniforms, equipment, rent, tournament and league fees,” he said.
Karsten discussed the logistics and set up of the tournament at Fridley. “We have two courts in the middle school and two courts in the high school. The unique thing about our courts is each one is separated from the other, so there is less noise and more room than there might be in a field house.”
Karsten listed what he hopes would come from hosting the tournament. “One, a healthy profit for our Association. Two, other teams and associations impressed with how Fridley hosts a tournament. Three, get kids excited and motivated to put-in off-season work to come back better the next season.”
Click here for final brackets/results from both White Bear Lake and Fridley
Click here for photo gallery from White Bear Lake games
Click here for photo gallery from Fridley