Sunday, December 28, 2014

Nick's Notes: An Early Christmas Gift

Nick’s Notes: Absence makes the Hart grow fonder

December 24, 2014
Marshall Independent
Christmas came early for Marie Hanson.
The Tracy-Milroy-Balaton cross-country coach got a letter on the final day of October from the Reed Hart Trust notifying her of a donation to the cross country program.
Hart was an avid runner from Pipestone who was active in the southwest Minnesota and southeastern South Dakota running community.
Hart died in July at the age of 87 and Hanson knew that he had left some money to the program in September.
"I remember thinking, 'What a great guy, such a nice thing to do for us. We aren't even his hometown.' I assumed it would be a couple hundred bucks, which would have been great," said Hanson via email.
However, when Hanson opened up the letter in her classroom while her eighth period students took a quiz, she was shocked.
"I opened the letter and it took the wind out of me. I felt paralyzed because I couldn't tell the students and I couldn't leave my room! I probably had the strangest facial expression for the remainder of the hour," she said.
Hart had left $20,000 to the program.
"Right after class I ran (yes, ran) to my assistant coach's classroom and let her read the letter, then to my Activities Director, and then to the Superintendent. Everyone's eyes widened and mouth dropped as they read the amount," she said.
Hart had also left the same amount to other local programs including Fulda, Worthington, Okabena, the Prairie Striders Running Club, as well as few others.
This was an emphatic finish for a man who enjoyed running and everything that came along with it.
"He was the only hero I've ever had in my life," said his cousin Doug Hart, who now lives in Mount Pleasant, South Carolina. The two grew up together in Pipestone.
After serving in World War II and in Korea, Hart decided that he didn't want a conventional career.
He worked as a craftsman on government contracts all over the globe.
That's where he honed his love of running.
"He really started jogging when he went to Kwajalein. He was so isolated out there he didn't know what to do," said Doug. Reed went on to form running clubs there and in Riyad, Saudi Arabia.
When he retired to Pipestone in 1985, he continued jogging.
He helped form running groups in the area. He also made race trophies by hand out of wood. He ran two 10K races at age 85.
"It became a passion of his. It wasn't that he was out to win any races. He never won a race when he competed. He did it because of good health. That's what he tried to foster for everyone," said Doug.
Hanson said that the she is planning on using the funds to help improve the Tracy Box Car Days road race, which supports the TMB cross country team.
"Area runners are in for a treat this summer," she said.
Hanson said the team plans to honor Hart and his generosity as well.
Doug said that a quote that describes Reed is, "The sign of a truly contented person who enjoys the scenery while being forced to take a detour."
Even though Hart has crossed his last finish line, his spirit and generosity will continue on for many more races.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Nick's Notes: Asking for Help

Nick’s Notes: Asking for Help

December 11, 2014
By Nick Hansen (nhansen@marshallindependent.comMarshall Independent
I first heard about it on Facebook.
On December 7th, 2009, a friend of my former high school teacher and cross country ski coach Patti Soderberg posted that she had passed away the previous evening.
Patti died accidentally in her hot tub. The pain and grief from her loss quickly rippled through my small community of boarding school alumni and teachers.
I called my former roommate, my ex-girlfriend, and got checked on by some former teachers
Her death hit us all in the collective gut. Patti was a bright, bubbly person who always liked to have fun. One time she brought double-stuff Oreos into my dorm wing at 10 p.m.
She quickly regretted that decision when she tried to get eight high school boys into their rooms thirty minutes later.
She wasn't the most technical of ski coaches, but she enthusiastically cheered us on while we raced, even if we were the slowest skiers on the course, which we often were.
Our high school team was a quirky bunch. We weren't great skiers, but we found joy in being out on the trails together. A lot of that joy came from Patti.
If she couldn't make you smile, her two slobbery St. Bernards, Skada and Freya would. That's why we were all shocked when we learned of her struggle.
Patti was an alcoholic. I don't think anyone in our tight-knit boarding school community knew about her illness. I didn't find out about it until after I graduated.
I stayed in touch with her and her husband after leaving high school, but I never broached the subject. It was hard for us to understand her burden because she made every effort to lighten ours.
Through Patti, I learned that cross country skiing is the ultimate team sport. Even though you are on the course by yourself, you don't do it alone. You have people help you wax your skis.
Your coaches go over the race course with you. You draft with your teammates and they encourage you. And sometimes, you have someone waiting for you with a hug and a warm meal after the race. That person was always Patti.
I don't believe in the archetype of the self-made person, especially in the sports world.
Individual effort and self-motivation go a long way, but there is always someone there who offers a helping hand when you need it.
So if you need help, please let others know. Whether it is with an inner struggle or a small problem, don't be afraid to reach out. The world can't afford to have any more bright lights like Patti snuffed out too early.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Geist gets start in DII title game

This was my favorite story from the weekend. Greta has been battling another round of Hodgkin's lymphoma. Coach Terry Culhane gave her the start and there wasn't a dry eye in the house.

 By Nick Hansen ( , Marshall Independent
LOUISVILLE, Ky. -Even though Greta Geist hadn't played volleyball in nearly a month, it was an easy decision for Southwest Minnesota State coach Terry Culhane to start her in the national championship match against the University of Tampa.
Geist is battling a reappearance of Hodgkins Lymphoma and will be starting another round of treatment after the season.
Even though Geist was subbed out right away, she got a standing ovation from both SMSU and Tampa fans.

Article Photos

Photo by Anna Haecherl-Smith
SMSU’s Greta Geist waits to be introduced for the Division II National Championship match on Saturday.
"It was an out of body experience," said Geist after the match.
Geist has been on her teammates mind ever since she had to take a break from playing in early November.
She noticed that her neck started hurting again and the pain became out of the ordinary after a Thursday practice.
The mother of a teammate took her urgent care on a Saturday morning and Geist went back to her house near the Twin Cities later that day. She had an appointment with her doctor on Monday.
"Right when my oncologist felt my neck she knew my cancer was back right away. That was really hard to hear," said Geist. After more tests at the University of Minnesota Children's Hospital, they found out that the cancer was 2 centimeters bigger than it was the pervious time.
"My treatment is going to be way harsher. It's going to be like the springtime, times 1,000," said Geist. The cancer is still stage two and Geist said it hasn't spread anywhere else.
Even though the Mustangs' season ended on the court, they're committed to being good teammates in the offseason.
"We are a close-knit group. We're good teammates during the season. We need to continue to be better teammates while Greta battles through this," said Culhane after the match.
"We'll rally for her. We'll be together through this battle for her," said teammate Whitney Burmeister.
The Mustangs warmed up in their violet t-shirts that were emblazoned with the words "Team Greta."
Geist was happy she was able to make the trip to Louisville, even though her doctors were initially hesitant.
She sat on the bench with clipboard in hand and was fully invested during the match. She got out of her chair and cheered when teammate Kenzie Beekman made a particularly powerful kill.
Geist has appreciated the support of her teammates and coaches, even though she couldn't be with them all the time.
"My teammates are amazing. It helped me a lot and will help me through the experience of my treatment, too," she said.