Friday, December 13, 2013

Day 67 - Proud Hawkettes Dance Team Coach

Today's post is from Hawkettes Dance Coach Molly Carlson

Last night the Hawkettes Dance Team had an amazing performance at the Wright County Conference Kick Meet, and they took home a well-deserved first place. As one of their coaches, I of course could not be more proud of them. However, the overwhelming sense of pride I have in this team dates back much farther than last night.

Thirteen years ago, I was beyond excited to accept the job as MWHS Dance Team Coach. The team at that point struggled with dance technique, and didn’t really know what success felt like. However, they had the enthusiasm, drive and eagerness to learn that any coach would dream of. It took a few years, and an unimaginable amount of effort, but soon we worked our way up and became contenders. I’ll never forget that first time, in 2004, that the Hawkettes made it to the State Tournament. I had never felt such pride in my life.

Looking back on my thirteen years of coaching, I love thinking about the connections that I have been able to make with my dancers. I am so proud of my dance team alumni, and I miss working with each of them so much. I have always tried to teach them as much (if not more) about life as I do about dance. Two of the alumni that I am most proud of, Emily (Bryce) Gibson and Lexie Warlof, are now Hawkettes coaches themselves. I am so grateful that I get to coach alongside these two amazing people.

Every year I have been a coach, I have been more and more proud of my team. And it’s not just due to the success that they’ve had or the amazing dancers that they have become. In fact, their success is only a small part of why I am so proud to coach this team. There are so many bigger, more important things, that make me proud.

The Hawkettes are excellent ambassadors for our school in many ways: they proudly represent MWHS at dance competitions, at other athletic events, and at various community appearances. They conduct themselves with maturity, grace and humility wherever they go, and they represent our school in a way that would make every community member proud.

The Hawkettes hold an annual Junior Hawkettes Camp every year, and I always feel so much pride in my team during this event. During this week the Hawkettes become amazing teachers and make it so fun for the younger dancers. So many of them were Junior Hawkettes themselves, and I take so much pride in seeing how far they have come.

While I am so proud of what these dancers do throughout their community, I am even more proud of what they do out on the dance floor. They truly know what it means to be a unified team (they have SO much fun being together and performing with one another), and that team unity shows in their dancing. At practices, I am always astounded by the drive they have, the initiatives they take on independently (without their coaches having to tell them to do so), and the extremely positive attitudes that I see day in and day out with this team.

I find myself thinking every year about my current team, and how it’s never going to be THIS good again. I find so much joy in working with my team every single year, that it’s easy to think that it can’t get any better. But it does. Every year I enjoy my job as Hawkettes Dance Team Coach more and more. Every year I am more and more proud...not just of how they do, but of who they are. They are one of the classiest groups of young women around, and I truly love being their coach.

2013-14 Hawkettes Dance Team

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Thursday, December 12, 2013

Day 66 - Celebrating Academic Achievements

Today's post is from English teacher Kate Schilling

2013 marks my fourth year at MWHS, and I am proud to be a part of the Westonka community. I graduated from college in the spring of 2009 at the height of the recession. Needless to say, teaching jobs were scarce, and the prospects for getting a job near my family in the Twin Cities seemed slim. Landing a job at MWHS has been a true blessing--it’s a rare gift to have your first job be at a school where you can envision spending your whole career.

One of my favorite parts of working at MWHS is being part of the Celebrations Assembly Committee. This dedicated, creative crew of teachers coordinates quarterly assemblies that celebrate the hard work of our students. Each quarter, students can earn chances to win fantastic prizes through a number of personal accomplishments, including being on the A honor roll, improving their GPAs, having perfect attendance, and embodying good citizenship. Along with the students, the community gets excited about celebrations assemblies too. Generous donors contribute the prizes so that we can recognize what our kids do well, and that is a remarkable thing.

MWHS and the Westonka community encourages our kids to do what’s right for themselves and their school. We honor our kids’ dedication in a public format because their achievements are worth talking about, worth recognizing, and worth celebrating! 

December 6th Celebration Assembly Video.
(Unfortunately this video will not play on mobile devices.)

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Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Day 65 - Nordic Ski Team is Overflowing with MWHS Pride!

Today's post is from Nordic Ski Coach Sue Harrison

Have you been to the “Scramble”? If so, you will know why I am so proud of the MWHS Nordic Ski family. If not, come next December and feel the MWHS Nordic Ski team pride. It is contagious at this outstanding community event!

A brief history of the MWHS Nordic Ski Team: We started as a club in 2007 with about 20 skiers; 17 girls and 3 boys. I was the novice ski coach with inexperienced skiers. Support came in many ways: one exceptionally helpful Estonian exchange student/skier, many helpful parents, encouraging friends and assorted ski coaches from other teams to offer moral support and guidance on how to get kids skiing. The kids were enthusiastic and the snow was good and we had lots of fun! The second year the club grew to about 30 skiers. Following that, I petitioned the school board to allow us to be an unfunded high school varsity sport. This passed the school board and we have done our own fundraising to support the team ever since!

This is not a cheap sport to fund. We spend over $5,000 per year on buses alone! We have waxing costs, conference fees, race entries, an assistant coach and more. We manage to get it all paid for through the incredible success of our “Scramble: Omelets Served Classic and Freestyle” event. This breakfast and silent auction is held the 2nd Sunday of December at the American Legion in Mound. Last Sunday the Legionnaires made 288 omelets in 3 hours for our event! The entire team and all of our parents are involved in making the Scramble a yearly success story. The skiers sell tickets and work the event, and parents solicit donations for the silent auction. This year we had over 200 items donated. It is very exciting to see the list of auction items grow as the event gets closer! Also, many delicious treats are prepared for the Bake Sale table by parents and skiers. It all gets set up on Saturday night, so that Sunday morning the Scramble can begin. The Legionnaires are there making an omelet every 90 seconds, the parents oversee the ticket table and bidding at the auction and the skiers clear tables, pour coffee and juice and help with dishes. It all is over in a blur with people coming and going, alumni skiers and parents stopping by and friends and families eating, bidding and supporting the Nordic Ski team. It makes me incredibly proud of our ‘ski family’ to see how we all come together for this festive and fantastic community event!

All along the way, from our 1st day as a club through today at our first meet of our 5th varsity season, I have been proud of the support these skiers and parents show this team. From food for meets to fundraising, from chaperones to drivers, from water stop volunteers to City of Lakes Luminary production teams, this amazing group of skiers and parents is there to help! This doesn’t even address my pride in them as skiers/students and as role models. This team is overflowing with MWHS PRIDE!

Karla Humbert and Tracy Inglis
Coordinators for “Scramble: Omelets Served Classic and Freestyle”

Seniors on the 2013-14 Nordic Team

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Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Day 64 - Be the Change you wish to see at MWHS

Today's post is from MWHS Boys Basketball Coach Tyler Biwan

It was Gandhi who once said “You must be the change you wish to see in MWHS…” or something along those lines.

Prior to the start of the season I met with each of our eight seniors individually to hear them out on how they currently felt about our basketball culture, chemistry and identity at MWHS. Given their three years in the program, there were a lot of great [very frank and honest] assessments made. I ended nearly every conversation with, “okay - what are you going to do about it?” Receiving perplexed looks, my challenge to our seniors has been to go above and beyond in leaving their mark on the program.

I have a great group of Senior Moms who have graciously put time into our Golden Ticket initiative. With this, each boy in our program has 5 tickets to hand out to friends for free admission into our basketball game – a season-long initiative. I don’t have any history at Mound to know what past seasons have looked like, but our boys assured me the student section has been bigger and louder than any year they remember (side note: students, you have been awesome – keep coming). We may not be the most talented team in the state, section or conference. However, our players vow to put on a show of energy, toughness and unity for those who take time out of their busy schedule to support and cheer us on for 36 minutes. With that, they are truly marketing and selling the program within MWHS. Their Pride in the program is contagious, and seeing the results in fan and student support two games into the season, I get excited thinking about the short and long term future.

If our players truly take Pride in being a White Hawk, they must spread that Pride throughout the program, school, even into the community. Change doesn't happen overnight, nor does it happen alone. The program is not about me, our coaches, or our currently varsity team. It’s about those who play next year, five, ten years from now in the same White Hawk jerseys (well, hopefully we have new jerseys by then, but you catch my drift). Our current seniors; being able to return from college and beyond to future basketball games and take Pride in saying “I was part of this foundation – I left my mark.” That is MWHS Pride.

Go White Hawks!
Ryan, Tynan, Coach Biwan and Gabe

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Monday, December 9, 2013

Day 63 - White Hawks Wrestling Pride

Today's post is from WALA Teacher and Head Wrestling Coach Todd Munsterteiger

Former MWHS principal (and later superintendent) Gene Zulk would always start his introduction at public events with “I’m Gene Zulk, and I am proud and privileged to be the principal at MWHS”. That made an impression on me early in my career, and I can also say that I, Todd Munsterteiger, am truly proud and privileged to be the head wrestling coach at Mound Westonka High School. Wrestling isn’t the most well-known sport, and certainly doesn’t get the attention, fans and accolades other sports do at our high school. However, the amount of hard work, late nights and weekends, and literal blood, sweat and tears it takes to be successful far outweigh the more “popular” sports. There is little fame that goes with being a wrestler, and practices and competition are far from “fun”. Wrestling is one of the most physically demanding sports, and win or lose there is no one else to blame but yourself. Every single moment on the mat you are putting yourself out there in a battle of wills that takes extreme focus, and takes you to the brink of mental and physical exhaustion. Experiencing this as an athlete and being able to share this journey with our kids gives me extreme pride.

Although I am always proud of our wrestling team and program, there was an extreme sense of pride last Saturday as we won the Fridley Invitational for the first time ever. Over the years, we have done well at this tournament; and last year we fell just short of winning the championship. I knew we had a shot this year, but after losing a few starters and not being full-strength, I was not sure we had enough to get the job done. We, as coaches, asked a few kids to step up and fill in the holes, hoping we could win a few matches to help the team score. Step up they did, as we placed all twelve wrestlers in the top five, with everyone winning at least two matches. The excitement of winning come from behind matches and watching our kids realize their potential right before my eyes was one of the most fulfilling moments I have had in my eighteen years at MWHS. Watching our entire squad being handed the first-place trophy, while hearing the roar of the parents who tirelessly donate their time and energy for the program was a feeling like no other. It was the culmination of hours of hard work on everyone’s part, and a snapshot of how great we can be if we stay the course.

Todd Munsterteiger, Proud and Privileged Head Wrestling Coach and the White Hawk wrestlers after their big win in Fridley this Saturday

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