Dave Newman has been the sports editor at the New Richmond News since 1988. He has covered the action in the Middle Border Conference, Dunn-St. Croix Conference and Big Rivers Conference for nearly 30 years.
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It has already been a successful summer for the New Richmond Post 80 American Legion baseball team. The New Richmond boys have locked up the championship in the Southern Division of the St. Croix League in their first year in Legion ball. This weekend the New Richmond team will try to qualify for the American Legion AA state tournament. New Richmond's team will be one of seven teams competing in a AA regional tournament this weekend in Medford. New Richmond's first game in the double-elimination tournament will be played at 10 a.m. on Friday.
For the past two-plus years, Alie Thanig has been a leukemia patient. She is now a leukemia survivor. Alie may not remember her sixth birthday more specially than any others, but her parents certainly will. On June 27, Alie's sixth birthday, she took her final chemotherapy treatment in her battle with ALL (Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia). Alie is the daughter of Jeff and Sarah Thanig of Somerset. ALL is a cancer of the white blood cells, the cells in the body that normally fight infections. It is the most common leukemia in children.
Casey Eckardt has been a success as an athlete, as a coach and as an official. He views the New Richmond athletic director position as the next challenge in his athletic career. Eckardt officially began his role as New Richmond's athletic director on Monday, though he was already in his office last week. New Richmond sports fans may recognize Eckardt from the basketball games that he has worked here in the past. They may also recognize him as the long-time Eau Claire Memorial baseball coach who guided the Old Abes to the WIAA Division 1 State Tournament this spring.
The Minnesota Twins have made a $5,000 donation to help in the renovations of New Richmond's historic baseball park, Citizens Field. The updating of Citizens Field began last fall and Phase I of the project is well underway. The new third base dugout has been completed and the concession stand is well on its way to being finished. Fencing and landscaping projects have been started as part of Phase I of the project. Citizens Field has been the primary baseball field in New Richmond since opening in 1937.
Mr. Been is on duty. New St. Croix Central athletic director Nic Been (pronounced bean) stepped into his new role last week. Been succeeds Warren Van Ranst, who retired after the 2007-08 school year. Been had a special reason to seek a job in the area. He will be marrying St. Croix Central volleyball coach Kerrie Holmlund this fall. Been graduated from UW-River Falls in 2000, but has picked up a broad base of teaching and athletic experience since then.
There will be a new varsity boys basketball coach in Somerset this winter. On Monday night, the Somerset Board of Education approved the hiring of Brent Larson as the new Spartan boys varsity basketball coach. Eric Olson, who had served the past seven years as the Spartan varsity coach, was not offered a contract by the Somerset Board of Education. Larson volunteered for the past two seasons to help the Spartan boys team.
His career sprouted from a fascination with black widow spiders. His interest in spiders led Gordon Grice to write the book "The Red Hourglass, Lives of the Predators." Grice's book was published in 1997 to glittering reviews. Grice, who has lived in Somerset since 2000, will be doing a presentation at the Somerset Public Library this week as part of the library's summer series on bugs. His library presentation will be based on venomous bugs. Grice is scheduled to have another book published next spring.
Darren Kern got an offer he couldn't refuse. Kern is leaving the Somerset School District after one year filling the newly created Director of Pupil Services position. Kern's last day in Somerset will be this Friday. Kern has been hired to become the Director of Student Services in Osseo, Minn., which is the fifth largest school district in Minnesota. The Osseo district includes 19 elementary schools, four junior highs and three high schools. At Somerset, Kern was in charge of three areas. In Osseo, he will be overseeing 10 areas.
Jim McCullum has been head coach of the New Richmond Tigers girls softball team for 19 of the 20 years of the team's varsity existence. His tenure as the Tigers' head coach has come to an end. McCullum resigned his teaching and coaching positions in New Richmond to become Dean of Students at the Next Step Transition Alternative Learning Center. His new position is an administrative role in the North St. Paul-Maplewood-Oakdale School District. "I look at this as a chance to be the man I always wanted to be," McCullum said.
The National Wrestling Hall of Fame Class of 2008 will have a western Wisconsin flavor. The 2008 Hall of Fame class includes: Bob Olson, former New Richmond and Somerset coach; Lindy Johnson, former St. Croix Central and UW-River Falls coach; Joe Jilek, long-time wrestling official from Glenwood City; Bill Lockington, former Arcadia coach; Ed Lenard, former Cadott coach. Induction will be held on Sunday, Aug. 10, at the Holiday Manor Inn and Convention Center in Menomonie. Social hour is at 3:30 p.m., with the dinner at 5 p.m.