Category: Minnesota

New Minnesota governor Tim Walz was a state champion football coach at Mankato (Minn.) West HS

When Tim Walz was elected to serve as the new governor of Minnesota, the state gained a leader with a broad range of experiences and collaborative approaches.
It also gained a high school football coach at the top of the state’s food chain.
While Walz — who was sworn in as the state’s new governor Monday — spent recent years in the U.S. House of Representatives, his time in Minnesota began when he came from Nebraska, where he was the football coach at Alliance (Neb.) High School. In Minnesota, he served as the football coach and teacher at Mankato (Minn.) West High School. Within his first few seasons, Walz built up a program that would capture the school’s first state title.

He’s never lost sight of that experience, and though he remains a Cornhuskers fan, is proud to have incorporated part of his Nebraska roots into his time and life in Minnesota.
“We brought a lot of that Nebraska football here to Minnesota,” Walz told the Omaha World-Herald.
In fact, when asked for a story from his life that exemplifies his calling to serve, Walz told the Minneapolis Star Tribune about something he took on himself while coaching at Mankato West:
Tim Walz was an enlisted soldier in the Minnesota National Guard in 1999 and defensive coordinator of the Mankato West High School football team. A student at the school, where Walz taught geography, wanted to start a gay-straight alliance.
This was three years after the president, a Democrat, signed a law forbidding same-sex marriage. Soldiers suspected of being gay in Walz’s own unit could be discharged from the military. But Walz, now Minnesota’s Democratic candidate for governor, had seen the bullying some students endured and agreed to be the group’s faculty adviser.
“It really needed to be the football coach, who was the soldier and was straight and was married,” Walz said. In other words, he would be a symbol that disparate worlds could coexist peacefully.

Clearly, Walz was a coach who led for the sake of helping student-athletes. Now he’ll try to lead the state of Minnesota as a whole in the same way, something that should bring plenty of comfort for anyone who experienced Walz as a coach.

VIDEO: Minn. soccer team wins state title on insane 60-yard, double-OT goal

U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis has seen its share of wild finishes this year, what with the Minnesota Miracle pass from Case Keenum to Stefon Diggs  in January and the Eagles’ Super Bowl XLII win over the Patriots in February.
Now, the shiny new venue has quite the futbol highlight to add to stadium lore. Friday’s Minnesota Class A soccer championship game between The Blake School (Minneapolis) and Bemidji (MInn.) High School was scoreless through 80 minutes of regulation and 10 minutes of overtime.
To start the second OT, Blake sophomore Keegan James elected to boot the ball from centerfield, almost like a football kickoff.
And oh, did it ever work.

WE ARE SPEECHLESS! Keegan James with the unbelievable goal in the kickoff! The Blake Bears are your 2018 State Champs! Tune in SUNDAY on Minnesota Prep Spotlight for game highlights. GAME REPLAY: https://t.co/0aYXzzK2bg @BlakeBSoccer @SportsatBlake @mnsoccerhub @StribSports pic.twitter.com/4ysJevrWwm
— Minnesota Prep Spotlight (@MNPrepSpotlight) November 2, 2018

You can see James’ ball sail to the top right corner of the net, out of the reach of Bemidji goalkeeper Joe Fletcher.
The players’ reaction was as one would expect, given the play, the circumstances and the stakes.
“It was a feeling like no other,” James told the Bemidji Pioneer. “I was just happy. I was very tired at this point. Honestly, going 10 more minutes would’ve been very, very tough for my body, but I’m just happy we got it done.”
Per the Pioneer, the idea for the long shot came from teammate and senior captain Jake Lundberg, who said he had asked the referee if the play was legal.
“He’s like, ‘Why,’ and I was like, ‘Because we’re going to do that,’” Lundberg said. “And he goes, ‘All right,’ and winks at me. I know Keegan. He has a good shot that I knew would be able to get up and over, so I looked at Keegan and I’m like, ‘You’re shooting it off the kickoff.’ ”
From the middle of the Viking profile at midfield to the back of the net. Just how James, Lundberg and the Blake Bears drew it up. And they have a state title to show for it.