Speaking of Sports

By John Fragodt, Sports Reporter

Minnewaska Area High School and Pope County, here I come!  I am so much looking forward to joining the team at the Pope County Tribune and covering Minnewaska Area High School sports.

First of all, thank you to former sports editor Mark Beasley for welcoming me to the community the way he has.  I’ve known Mark for many years, but only recently got to really know him.  He’s a great guy who has helped me get comfortable in my new role as the sports editor at the Pope County Tribune.

I also want to thank the rest of the PC Tribune staff, which has made me feel so much at home even though it’s only been a little over a week.

Prior to starting my new job at the PC Tribune, I worked for the Swift County Monitor-News for 35 years, covering KMS and Benson High School sports, school and community activities, while also helping to cover Wheaton/Herman-Norcross sports for the Grant County Herald as well as other miscellaneous duties.

My wife and I moved to Pelican Lake about five years ago and have been living there fulltime for the past three years.  During the last few years, whenever the Lakers hosted the Benson Braves, I would try to attend those games to take pictures since it was only four miles away from our “new” home, and was actually kind of like a “home” game for me.  

When I arrived inside the Minnewaska gym, or at the football/track facility, I would always try to look for Mark to say a quick hi before starting to watch the game and take pictures.  Little did I know how things would turn out and that I’d eventually be taking over for Mark as the new sportswriter for the PCT.

When I was first approached by PCT Editor and Publisher Tim Douglass about the sportswriter position, I was very happy, to say the least.  Here was a perfect opportunity for me at the perfect time in my life.  That doesn’t happen very often, but it did to me.  And so, here I go. 

I’ve always respected the student-athletes from Minnewaska Area and the great success they have had over the years.  The Lakers were always tough opponents for the Braves, and they always seemed to have great individual athletes.

I’m also aware of the great student-athletes and names from Glenwood/Starbuck’s past, including the Toops, Ostranders, Rutledges, Ver Steegs, Johnsruds, Toivenens, Gregorsens, Roerings, Grubers, Guggisbergs and so many more.  

I’m very eager to learn more sports history for the Lakers’ sports programs, and I’m looking forward to having a working relationship with Matt Pederson, a longtime sports and WCC historian, who I’ve had the pleasure of knowing for many years.

I first got to know Matt when he approached me after a girls’ basketball game in 2008-09 when my daughter, Abby, made 14-of-14 free-throws against the Lakers.  The next day, I got an e-mail from Matt letting me know that Abby had made a state records’ list.  She is still one of only 28 players in the history of the state to go 100 percent from the line during a girls’ game with at least 14 attempts.  Yes, Matt will be a great resource for me.

There are a lot of great Scandinavians around the Pope County Area, and I’m glad to join them.  I’m 100 percent Norwegian from my dad’s side of the family and 100 percent German from my mother’s.  A Norwegian name like Fragodt should fit in rather nicely in this area.

I was able to get my first taste of working for the paper during Waterama weekend.  I attended events Thursday and Friday, and also spent the entire morning Saturday taking pictures, mostly out at Barsness Park.  Glenwood and Pope County, you sure know how to host a celebration.

I’ve always thought a newspaper should be informative, yet also fun to read, so I plan to include some fun and entertaining things in my weekly column and in the sports pages, including trivia, jokes, interesting facts, brain teasers and more.

I will also have an area high school scoreboard each week, which will highlight the win-loss records and results for area schools playing in the WCC, Camden and Pheasant Conferences.  We might add some more conferences as time goes on.

If you get a chance, don’t be afraid to stop me and say hi, and don’t be afraid to contact me if you have sports ideas or any pictures and/or information from an event that you’d like highlighted in the Pope County Tribune.  Just send the information to sports@pctribune.com and I’ll get back to you with any questions.

Please forgive me if I repeat things that might have been in the paper before, or misspell things/names, etc.  And, don’t be afraid to send me comments, criticisms and corrections — or, the three C’s of feedback as I like to refer to them as.

I’ve always thought that student-athletes deserve as much recognition and coverage as they can get.  They work hard and sacrifice a lot of time and effort to compete on high school athletic teams.  I will do my best to make sure they are recognized for all their hard work and sacrifice.

Yes, making a big change like this is never easy and I’ll admit I’m both nervous and anxious.  However, I’m also looking forward to the new challenges and opportunities of covering a new school district.  And heck, I’ve been covering the WCC for 35 years and following sports my entire life, so things won’t be entirely new for me.  Plus, I’ve gotten to know so many great people in such a short time and am looking forward to meeting many more.

Yes, life is constantly changing and you either let it pass you by, or you move with the flow.  I’m ready to begin the next phase in my life and I look forward to serving the area for many years to come at the Pope County Tribune.

Pope County, here I come!