Vikings fan: ‘Something to be proud of’
MINNEOTA — Minneota residents don’t make any secret of their love for their hometown high school sports teams.
From the downtown banners proclaiming “Home of the Minneota Vikings,” to folks wearing team apparel, like Dave Fahey was behind the counter of Gislason Ace Hardware on Wednesday, the support for Minneota players was right out in the open.
“I’m not sure I’ve ever seen a town that is so into sports,” said Jordan Dressen, manager of City Hall Bar and Grill in Minneota.
Normally, if a Minneota team makes it to a state championship, “The whole town goes,” Donna Buysse said.
COVID-19 safety rules mean that the whole town can’t be there when the Minneota High School girls basketball team plays in the Class A championship game on Friday afternoon. But local residents were still vocal about their support for the team.
“It’s been exciting for the girls. We hope they do well,” Shirley Gladis said.
Part of the talk about the girls basketball team centered on Tuesday’s semifinal game against Mountain Iron-Buhl, which came down to a 53-53 tie that was broken in the final seconds with a one-point free throw by senior Abby Hennen.
“Oh, that was a good game,” said Julie Kack. Kack was one of a few people who had stopped in for lunch at City Hall Bar and Grill on Wednesday. The group said it’s been great to see the Minneota girls have a shot at the state title, especially after COVID cut the 2020 basketball tournament short. They also praised coach Chad Johnston, and the effort that the Minneota players have been putting in.
“They’re go-getters,” said Rita Bottelberghe. To put in the kind of work some of the athletes do for both volleyball and basketball, she said, “You’ve got to be dedicated to the sport.”
“I think the sportsmanship is quite high,” in Minneota, Fahey said. “They all support each other and give it their all.”
And why is Minneota so outspoken in its support for high school athletes?
Some local residents thought it was a way to highlight the positive in the community.
“It just makes you feel good. It’s something to be proud of,” said Kathy Bulander.
The next challenge ahead for the Minneota girls basketball team will be tomorrow at 1 p.m., as they face Belgrade-Brooten-Elrosa in the Class A championship game at the Target Center. While in-person seats for the game will be limited, the game will be broadcast on 45TV and streamed online at www.prep45.com. Dressen said he plans to stream the game at City Hall Bar and Grill on Friday.