This is the first blog for g_mandakota. First of all, Mike H, thank you for the invite to participate. For those of you who care, g_mandakota is from northeast SD.

I was thinking of a topic for my first blog. After last night’s Sioux Falls Event Center Vote, we are going to have a non-Sioux Falls Event Center Debate. On one side we have the Arena location supporters. On the other side we have the Build It Downtown (BID) supporters.

The vast majority of non-SF residents go to Sioux Falls for three reasons; healthcare, shopping, and entertainment. The amount of money the “non-metro” residents spend in SF is a major economic factor for SF.

The Arena supporters start out the debate by stating there is one common thread that ties us together. We all prefer to get in and out of Sioux Falls the easiest way possible in the least amount of time. We all hate the traffic of Sioux Falls specifically Minnesota Ave and 41st Street. Hate is a strong word, but it is very fitting when it comes to fighting the traffic of SF.

We go to the Empire Mall to shop as it is easy to get in an out. We come into Sioux Falls on I-29, take Exit 77, and take a short drive to the east on 41st St to the Empire Mall area. We get in, spend our money, and get out. We elect to avoid our hate for SF traffic and spend that extra hour it takes to go downtown (30 minutes in and 30 minutes back out) to travel back home.

We love the ease and familiarity of getting in and out of the Arena location to attend events. We take Exit 81, head east on Russell St., and arrive at the Arena without having to fight the normal SF traffic.

There are several of us that attend SDHSAA Events, Summit League Events, and other events at the Arena. We either spend several days in Sioux Falls, plan on spending only one day to attend the event, or attend based on a “spur of the moment”. It is possible to make it a one-day experience by spending 2 hours driving to Sioux Falls, 3 hours for the event, and spend 2 hours driving back home. We are tired when we get home, but we all agree it was worth the trip as we really enjoyed the live experience. In the end, the deciding factor is time and money.

If the Event Center is built downtown, you can add an additional hour of travel plus the stress of the SF traffic. Due to these two factors, us one day or “spur of the moment” attendees, opt to stay home. We can listen on the radio or watch on TV, and not have to deal with the extra hour to go downtown and the stress of Sioux Falls traffic.

The BID supporters point out the fact that downtown Sioux Falls has unique specialty stores and the beautiful Falls Park area. They point out the parking in the Arena location is congested, and that once us non-SF residents get used to the one-way streets in downtown Sioux Falls that we will learn to love the ease of getting in and out of downtown SF. If the EC is built downtown, all of these amenities of downtown SF will be that much better. In the end we will help improve downtown SF, and can take pride that we helped enhance the downtown experience that only a downtown location can provide versus the Arena location. In the end, they point out the obvious that we will attend SDSHAA events and the Summit League tournaments no matter the location as they are unique to SF.

As with all good debates, the Arena supporters respond to BID supporters. Everyone agrees SF has done a wonderful job of improving the Falls Park area and developing downtown. We will visit downtown Sioux Falls and the Falls Park area when we have an extra couple hours such as when we take on one of our mini weekend vacations to Sioux Falls. One such popular weekend vacation is the Ramada Inn and Water Park next to the Arena.

We do realize there are congested traffic issues at the Arena during the event. It is not the “event traffic” that concerns us as “event traffic” issues will exist no matter whether the EC is located. There is “event traffic” at the Fargo Dome, Metrodome, and Target Field. It is the ease and amount of time it takes to get in and out that is our number one concern.

Yes, we may still attend the SDHSAA and Summit League events if the EC is built downtown as there is no other option for those events. However; it will take us an extra hour to attend the downtown event, which is the difference maker between the need to spend the night in Sioux Falls versus returning home the same evening. Several of us simply cannot afford the extra cost of overnight lodging. We do have the option to watch Mike H on SDPB or Tom Nieman on Midco Sports.

If the same event is being held in Fargo such as a Bon Jovi concert, we will weigh our options between the Fargo Dome versus the Downtown Sioux Falls Event Center. The distance between Fargo and Sioux Falls are similar. As much as we want to keep our SD money in SD, we will elect to go to Fargo since our time and hate for local SF traffic is more valuable than where we spend our money. This is especially true when we only have the time for one day and/or cannot afford overnight lodging.

In the end, we agree on one fact after the debate. The “rural” SD residents will go to Sioux Falls, Fargo, and Sioux City for entertainment. The amount of money we spend at these events more than likely is the difference maker between the Event Centers making a profit versus not making a profit even if the metro areas do not believe we make a difference. The entire of SD will help pay for the Event Center. It is our decision where we attend the Event, which will be largely dependent upon the ease of getting in and out and the value of our time.

The following blog comes from The Genz ( by Dan Genzler of Sioux Falls, S.D.. This piece is about USD’s Bethany Buell at the NCAA Track Championships on Friday, June 10.

She’s the first.

Bethany Buell of The University of South Dakota women’s track and field team finished 13th in the women’s pole vault at the NCAA Track and Field Championships at Drake Stadium in Des Moines. As a result, Buell earns second team All-American honors from the U.S. Track and Field and Cross Country Coaches Association USTFCCA).

Buell was successful at two heights at the meet, including 13’1 1/2, which placed her 13th. Surrounded by competitors from across the nation, Buell is the first Coyote to step onto this stage and she fared well becoming USD’s first DI All-American in any sport. She was joined by a group of Coyote supporters in red and white in the stands near where she was competing, which I am sure provided some comfort.

She cleared the opening height of 12’9 1/2 on her second try, after barely missing her opening jump. As the bar moved to 13-1 1’2, Buell cruised over the bar without problem.

Then the rain came and competition shutdown for 30 minutes. Just as the competition was to start anew, the rain came again, which delayed the pole vault. However the meet continued in the rain and Buell tried three attempts at 13’5 1/2, coming close but not quite good enough.

The competition ( was won by Oregon’s Melissa Gergel who had a vault of 14-7.25, which tied an NCAA meet record of Kylie Hutson of Indiana in 2010. Buell, the highest placing freshman in the competition, finished ahead of vaulters from Florida, Michigan, Clemson and Minnesota in a competition in which six vaulters cleared 14 feet.

Yet this redshirt freshman from St. Louis, Mo., showed that she has a bit of the “South Dakota” pride that she has exhibited on a regular basis as a Coyote. Just think, this freshman has three more bites at the NCAA apple before maybe more in this sport lies ahead in her future.

As part of the The Genz blog (, I provide some little known facts, mostly pertaining to the sports world. For you readers of the unusual, how about some “pointed,” spitballing kind of stuff.

A little Pointer…

USD-Springfield was a state-supported institution in Springfield, S.D., founded in 1881 and closed in 1984 to become the Mike Durfee State Prison. While USD-Springfield had its grand athletic moments, its nickname of “Pointers” always has interested me. It (Pointers) represented an area of South Dakota famous for hunting, particularly pheasants. Pointer referred to a hunting dog symbol created in 1924 and the logo was redesigned in 1968 by a student, Charles Raymond, to “liven it up a bit and represent the less serene attitude of students” at what was Southern State Teacher’s College, according to Ray Frank’s book, “What’s In a Nickname.”

Nice point.

A spitballing, five-out guy

Clarence Elmer Mitchell was born on Feb. 22, 1891 in Franklin, Neb. (south of Hastings, Neb., near the Kansas border), and is thought to be the last of the spitballers, who had their hey day in the pre-1920s. A winner of 125 games (139 losses), Mitchell played in the majors from 1911-1932 for the Detroit Tigers, Cincinnati Reds, New York Giants, Brooklyn Robins, Philadelphia Phillies and St. Louis Cardinals. After the spitball was outlawed in 1920, he was one of 17 pitchers allowed to continue to throw the pitch and is believed to be the last legal left-handed spitball throwing pitcher. His greatest and worst baseball distinction may be that he made a record five outs in two at-bats during the 1920 World Series against the Cleveland Indians. In game five of the World Series, he hit into an unassisted triple play. His rising liner was caught by Cleveland Indians second baseman Bill Wambsganss, who doubled off the lead runner and tagged a runner between first and second base. To make things worse, in his next at bat Mitchell grounded into a double play, making five outs in two at-bats, a World Series record.

With those diddies in your mind for the rest of the day, don’t forget to check back here later when I post some “real” stuff from the NCAA Track and Field Championships later today from Drake Stadium. Remember, local women’s pole vaulting phenom Bethany Buell of USD will compete at 5:30 p.m. I will let you know how that goes. Until then, read on at Calling All Sports…

Cross-posted on my personal sports blog, Just Another Damn Sports Blog–MH

This weekend, I was reading Matt Zimmer’s excellent piece on the fiscal troubles of the Sioux Falls Pheasants baseball team, and how the team is struggling to get fans to the gate. Of course there are a lot of reasons for the downturn: a sluggish economy, not nearly enough corporate sponsorships, high gas prices, you name it…

Yet it seems that one of the biggest reasons people are staying away from the Birdcage? A name change. Seriously!

For those of you who are wondering what’s going on, here’s a recap… the former Sioux Falls Canaries was sold last season to a local ownership group. Previous to that, the Canaries had been pretty much a second-tier team in the Northern League and American Association. The team finished consistently near the bottom of the league standings and went through more managers than George Steinbrenner on a cocaine binge. So the new group decided to clean house… new office staff, new commitment to making a winning program, heck they decided to even change the name of the team and the uniforms!

Last year was one the best in the team’s nearly 20-year old history. The newly-christened Pheasants tore through the American Association like Kanye West at a Taylor Swift concert, falling just short of getting their second American Association championship in three years. Sounds like a pretty good start, right?  Only one problem… no one came to the games!

Granted, the new owners didn’t help out their cause early on… firing a popular general manager, refusing to honor a popular Canaries tattoo promotion, and cancelling several other popular promotions didn’t make them any fans. But it seems the owners did make some corrections and made other improvements, including better concessions. But the important thing is they invested IN the team. Because when it comes down to the nitty-gritty, the way you have a successful professional baseball team is to have a quality product on the field that people will come and pay money to see. And it seems like that’s what the owners are now doing.

But a stubborn group of people are saying that isn’t good enough… they want the old name back and they want the new owners run out on a rail. SERIOUSLY?!?!

According to some of these folks, the new group is messing with the “Tradition” of the team. Really? Well, let’s look at that tradition and some of the “highlights”…

1)      The original owner was the second coming of Steinbrenner. Only instead of simply hiring a new manager, he pulled a Henry VIII and made himself the boss. And got tossed out of many games because, simply, he was an idiot.

2)      The next group of owners owned several other teams in the Northern League, including the St. Paul Saints. Seriously, between a team in a market of over 300,000 compared to a team in a market of just over 150,000, where do you think their emphasis was going to be? Which explains why the Canaries had a bunch of unpaid bills and a lot of ticked off businesses before the current group paid all the bills.

3)      The managers and coaches in the past… one manager made his bones by walking over hot coals to motivate his teams… like Lou Holtz’s magic tricks for the 1976 Jets, only… stupider. Oh, and let’s not forget the pitching coach that was banned by Major League Baseball for being suspended for using cocaine…. SEVEN TIMES! Boy those were some banner years, weren’t they?

4)      One playoff appearance prior to winning the AA title in 2008.

Boy, some “tradition”, huh?

Of course, some complain that because of the name change, they feel “disrespected”. Well, if you’re going to feel disrespected because some independent minor-league baseball team changes its name, then you’ve got bigger issues than Charlie Sheen. As Matt Zimmer points out, this isn’t the New York Yankees. Now if the Yankees decided to change their name to the New York Silly Ninnies and wear pink and teal for their uniforms, then yeah, I could see people getting torqued off. Because that’s tradition. A minor league baseball team that isn’t even old enough to go into a bar doesn’t have enough years to even be considered to HAVE tradition.

Here’s the gist of it… Sioux Falls is in danger of losing one of its premier drawing points of the summer… besides the heat, humidity and mosquitoes. And I bet you dollars-to-donuts that the same yahoos that are having this temper tantrum about the name change are going to be the first to whine and caterwaul when this team either folds, or the owners are forced to sell to a new group which relocates them to the middle of Iowa.

And if that happens, I PRAY that a potential team owner looks long and hard at the situation going on now before he or she decides to start up a team in this area. Frankly, I wouldn’t blame them for not setting up shop… it’s just not worth the headache.

By Matt Hendrickson

No, I’m not going anywhere… unless you know something I don’t!

One of the things I’ve learned in my nearly 10-years in radio is that I have a lot of friends who are coaches. I know, being a sports director I’m not supposed to be friends with coaches or even LIKE them. But when you spend a third of your evenings every year at a football field, basketball court, track, volleyball court, tennis court, baseball diamond… etc., you can’t help but become friends with a few coaches. Call it an occupational hazard.

Which is why last night was a bit bittersweet for me as a radio announcer. I had to say goodbye to a coaching duo in Madison that I consider friends: Mat and Wendy Nelson. After several years of teaching and coaching the young people in the Madison School District, Mat and Wendy are pulling up stakes and heading to Minnesota, where Mat will become a high school principal.

I remember when Mat took over the girls’ basketball team from Chris Shaffer. He was a young guy, in fact he was still a player for Tim Schuring at DSU when I started at KJAM. But we built up a rapport quickly and while we didn’t always hang around we found some things in common, especially in our love/anguish over the Twins and Vikings.

When Wendy became the head volleyball coach a year later, we also built up a rapport. She liked to joke that she had the girls for the first few months of the year, then she handed them off to Mat for the winter. Both Mat and Wendy had fairly successful careers as coaches as their players continued to show improvement throughout the seasons.

But even more important than their successes on the court was their successes in the classroom. Wendy was (and still is) a very respected third-grade teacher, while Mat has won several accolades in the classroom as a science teacher. With their skill in the classroom, and their abilities in the coaching ranks, Mat and Wendy are leaving some very large shoes for others to fill.

So Mat, Wendy, I just want to wish you the best of luck in your new ventures. And thank you for all your work for Madison High School… but most importantly, thank you for your friendship.

In the past few weeks, we have been presented with a vivid picture of South Dakota athletic pride. We have witnessed the splendor in achievement that young men and women representing our high schools and colleges have provided us through dedicated and relentless efforts.

One such example is women’s pole vaulter Bethany Buell of The University of South Dakota, who on Friday will be the first USD athlete to compete at the NCAA DI Track and Field Championships.

Another example was the inspired and energetic play of Ritchie Price’s South Dakota State University men’s baseball team. The Jacks pushed Oral Roberts to the brink in the Summit League Baseball Championships.

Let’s recall the recent standout performances at the South Dakota High School Track and Field Championships at Howard Wood Stadium where we saw a reappearance of one of the state’s most storied programs, Sioux Falls Washington. The Warriors, led by former SDSU great Everett Gebhart, won the AA boys title for the 32nd time in school history and the first since 1988. It was at that same meet that we saw the continuing of a remarkable track legacy in Rapid City Stevens, whose girls team, led by former Coyote Paul Hendry, picked up its 18th overall title and 15th in 16 years. Along with thousands in attendance at Howard Wood Field, I witnessed the exploits of Carly Carper, Kari Heck, Seth Boomsma and Sami Galliger and others, who dazzled us with their powerful and graceful talents. 

All of these athletic efforts are worth the price of admission — so keep watching, the actors in this reality show will keep you on the edge of your seat.

If you want to read more about Buell or other South Dakota sports related topics, go to The Genz blog which is tagged here ( The Genz is a regular blog  written by Dan Genzler of Sioux Fall, S.D. The blog focuses primarily on South Dakota sports-related topics but also ventures into regional and national issues. Take a minute and join “The Genz” in sports conversation.


Mike Henriksen is an idiot! Mike Henriksen is the greatest! Mike Henriksen has no idea what he is talking about. Mike Henriksen sure is knowledgeable.

In this age of internet reader boards, I have heard it all. Hundreds of people, under the anonymity of log in names, have shared their opinion of me for all of the world to see. The good news is I have a thick enough skin, a healthy self-esteem, and enough humility to know that the actual truth regarding the way I do my job is somewhere in the middle of what everyone may be saying.

The problem is that it seems that no topic is off limits for internet posters. Family issues? Minor’s involved with a law infraction? A person about to lose their job? No problem! It all seems to be fair game for people to share every thought, rumor, and innuendo with no possible chance at repercussions! If you make up clever user name, you can suddenly sound like an expert, even though your usual biggest sighting of a source for your information is “I heard…”. Write whatever you wish, because you suddenly have a new sense of power. Heck, you could be a 50 year old adult and pretend you are a high school kid. You could be a college student pretending to be an opposing coach. It does not matter, and you are off scott-free.

I know that some will say that the conversations that take place on the internet are no different than the chats that happen daily at coffee shops and bars across South Dakota. Here is the fallacy of that argument: I know who you are when we are talking at those places. People judge other people based on what they say. If you make a statement to my face that is racist, slanderous, or just plain stupid, my opinion of you will drop considerably. I may not sit at the same table as you the next time, and I will certainly gauge any other statements you make in the future based on what I have heard from you in the past. That is the way it works in everyday life. It is one of the reasons we, in general, keep a civil tongue, and try not to offend others when we are in public.

Of course, on the internet, those rules of civility no longer apply. I can say what I want when I want about whomever I want because you can’t see me and your judgment of me will have no bearing on me whatsoever! Trash a 16 year old? No problem! Question a coach? Got that covered! Make comments about Native teams or a minority player? Just the usual fare for some posters. As a matter of fact, some posters can denigrate an entire wing of the Christian faith, call into question the sexuality of a star player, and accuse people in authority of all sorts of illegal acts in a single 5 minute session at the keyboard!

What about you? Have any of the posts you have made ever fallen into any of these categories? If so, why? Did it really make you feel better or build your self-esteem? I would certainly hope not. Just remember, the next topic on the message board may be about your teammate, your family member, or even you. Imagine how you would like that conversation to go.

Well, since Mike asked me to be a contributing blogger for “Calling All Sports”, I figured what the heck and do it.

In case you’re wondering who I am, allow me to introduce… myself. My name is Matt Hendrickson. I’ve been the sports director at KJAM Radio in Madison since 2005. I love sports, whether it’s Little League or Minnesota Twins. Yep… eternal optimist, I know.. but hey, they just swept Mike’s Royals so *thumbs nose*

I’ve been having a dilly of a time trying to figure out what this first post should be about. The Twins? The Pheasants struggles to get fans to the games? My first time at a Roller Dollz bout? Corn Belt League baseball? The possibilities are endless!

Of course, I could write about ALL of them. And if no one else comes aboard, I just might! But if you have any ideas, feel free to drop me a comment and let me know what you think!

Until next time!

When talking with Mark Blackburn of the Storm we got talking about sports movies they watch on the bus on the way to games. Are there certain movies that always get you fired up? What are some of your favorites?

Is there anyone you would really like to hear on the show? Let us know, and maybe email us some contact info as well.

And, no, as well connected as Mark is, he still can’t get you LeBron, or Michael, or any of the other single name athletes out there!