I have been playing golf on the Highland Park Varsity team since 7th grade, and I’ve lettered each year. Our team has also won conference 4 times since I have been on the team. I have had the privilege to be coached by Gary Podus, who has been the Highland Park golf coach for over 40 years. He has helped me become a better golfer with his instruction and guidance. As a team, Highland Park has done very little in sections, and I, as an individual, have never made it past sections.
This winter I have been hard at work trying to better the weaker parts of my game. I have been asking my uncle, Cameron Beckman, a former PGA tour pro, and a 3-time PGA tour winner, for advice and guidance. I have been asking him for advice on my putting and short game, as this is the area I feel I am the weakest, and where I feel I lose the most strokes.
Other than Highland Park golf, I am a junior member at Southview Country Club. I have been a part of the club since the summer of 2013, and it has helped me improve my game immensely. I have worked with the Assistant Golf Professional, Will Drestch, for the past two summers. I plan to work with him more this summer before I head off to Saint John’s next fall. He has helped me with my weight shift, in my golf swing, and to achieve better body rotation through my golf swing.
As of now, I am currently a 10.5 Handicap. I mainly base this off of my scores at Southview Country Club and Highland National Golf Course. I am going to work hard to lower my handicap this summer. My goal is to have a 3 Handicap by the time I am at Saint John’s this summer. It may be a lofty goal, but through determination and hard work, I believe I can achieve it.
On Tuesday, December 5th, 2017, Russia was banned from the 2018 Winter Olympic Games in Pyeongchang, South Korea because of allegations of heavy doping. Russia’s athletes accused of doping will not be able to attend the Olympic Games, and government officials from Russia are also banned. The athletes who passed drug tests cleanly will be able to declare as independents, and will wear neutral uniforms. Russia’s anthem will not play during the Opening Ceremony, and their flag will not be displayed. According the the New York Times, “In barring Russia’s team, Olympic officials left the door open for some Russian athletes. Those with histories of rigorous drug testing may petition for permission to compete in neutral uniforms. A panel appointed by the International Olympic Committee will rule on each athlete’s eligibility.” Winter sports that Russia has excelled at, such as biathlon and cross-country skiing, could be completely wiped out because of the large amount of drug violations.
These drug violations are not a new occurrence though, according to a New York Times article written in 2015, “an elaborate overnight operation at the 2014 Sochi Games, a team assembled by Russia’s sports ministry tampered with more than 100 urine samples to conceal evidence of top athletes’ steroid use throughout the course of competition. More than two dozen Russian athletes have been disqualified from the Sochi standings as a result, and Olympic officials are still sorting through the tainted results and rescinding medals.” This was all run through the nation’s deputy prime minister, Vitaly Mutko, who was Russia’s top sports official during the 2014 Sochi Games. He has now been banned for life from the Olympic Games. Russia will also be competing in the 2018 World Cup in June. They have not yet been banned from the World Cup; FIFA still has to make a decision.
On Saturday, October 7th, 2017, Highland Park Senior High inducted the following individuals, and teams, into the Athletic Hall of Fame: John Heller, Louise Kramer, Charles Portis, Gary Podas, the 1999 Basketball Team, and the 1977 Volleyball Team. All of the inductees that were inducted into the Highland Park Athletic Hall Of Fame had notable accomplishments in their sports, while also helping the school thrive.
We attended the luncheon on Saturday morning, and listened to the various inductees and what they had to say. The first inductee was John Heller. He served as Head Football Coach from 1985-2000 and as the Athletic Director from 1995-2009. He did not say much about his accomplishments as the Highland Park football coach, but focused more on his amazing achievements as the Athletic Director. In an approximately 15 minute speech, he gave the audience a great story of how he was able, with the help of many parents, students, and teachers, to add on a field house to the school, and help install brand new lights onto the football field.
The next inductee was Charles Portis, and the 1999 Boys Basketball Team. Charles Portis was a school counselor and coached boys basketball from 1989-2010. He helped lead the 1999 Boys Basketball Team to a great season and a state title.
Next up, was Louise Kramer and the 1977 Girls Volleyball Team. No one from the 1977 team was able to attend the luncheon, and neither was Ms. Kramer, but we did get to hear a few words of their accomplishments, including a quote from Ms. Kathleen Kramer (who is not related the coach of the 1977 Volleyball Team) “The team that year went 6-0 in conference and went on later that year to win the state tournament with coach Louise Kramer.” Kramer coached from 1972-1978.
The final inductee was Gary Podas, who is the current golf coach at Highland Park Senior High. He has been the coach of the boys golf team since 1979, and has lead numerous boys golf teams to conference titles and state. He is the longest serving coach in the SPPS district.
On Tuesday, October 3rd, Brian Dozier and the Minnesota Twins faced sensational rookie Aaron Judge and the New York Yankees in the American League Wildcard Game. Aaron Judge, who is six foot seven, hit a rookie record 52 home runs this year, breaking Mark McGwire’s record of 49 home runs as a rookie in 1987. Along with Aaron Judge, the Yankees have a good pitching staff, boasting an ERA over the 2017 season of 3.72. They also had an astounding 1,560 strikeouts! But the most impressive of the pitching staff? Rookie pitcher Luis Severino. Throughout the season he was constantly in the Cy Young Race (Award for the league’s best pitcher; awarded in both the National League and American League) and had an impressive 2.98 ERA with 230 strikeouts. He will start on Tuesday.
With the Yankees seeming to be the favorite in the Wild Card matchup, don’t count out the Minnesota Twins. According to Baseball Reference, the Minnesota Twins ranked 9th in the American League in home runs, with 206, and 4th in the AL in batting average, with .260. The Twins offense, lead by second baseman Brian Dozier, who lead the team in home runs (34) and RBI (93), will look for a spark from him in the Wild Card game. The Twins will also be looking for production from Joe Mauer, who finished the season with an impressive batting average of .305.
The ace of the Twins, Ervin Santana, also had an impressive season. He finished the year with a 3.28 ERA, 16 wins, 211.1 innings pitched, 5 complete games, and 167 strikeouts. With Ervin Santana on the mound Tuesday, the Yankees have something to fear.
Both with impressive rosters, powerful offenses, and great pitching staffs, this is bound to be a great matchup. The American League Wild Card Game will be played at Yankee Stadium on Tuesday, October 3rd, at 8 P.M. Go Twins!