Commentary: Readers’ questions and concerns get answered

With former sports editor Mike Bialka reprising his role as Sports Santa Wednesday, Dec. 25, I guess that makes me, the current sports editor, the Sports Scrooge.

But in order to be a miser, you have to have hoards of wealth, which I don’t. I am, however, keenly interested in the opinions, questions and thoughts of the readers of the sports section. A recurring package has been showing up at my sports desk the last few weeks from Robert in Little Falls. In the package are clippings of the Dispatch sports section with questions. Since Robert doesn’t leave a phone number and he’s one of our most loyal readers, I felt I would reach out to him this way.

His first main question is why do we not refer to the Brainerd/Little Falls Warriors as the Flying Warriors. This decision was actually not ours to make, but that of Brainerd Activities Director Charlie Campbell, who took time away from his sunny and warm vacation to explain why last year’s Class 2A state runner up is no longer the Flying Warriors.

“I believe it was, and I can’t remember the year, it was when we had to dissolve the cooperative that existed with who all was in it,” Campbell said. “Then we had to remake the co-op when we added Pierz because at that time they had a young player named Ella Kalusche, who was in the youth program, but she attended Pierz High School. The intention was that she would always be able to play on our high school team.

“I’m thinking that might have been four or five years ago. When I resubmitted the paperwork I submitted as the Brainerd Warriors. We are the host school. We went from black and purple to the blue and white and that was that.”


The current co-op for the girls’ hockey program includes Brainerd, Little Falls, Pierz and Pillager. Most of the girls on the team, however, are from Brainerd.

Robert also questioned the sports department when we referred to the St. Cloud team as just St. Cloud for its 2-2 tie with the Brainerd Warriors boys hockey team.

About four or five years ago, St. Cloud Apollo and St. Cloud Tech combined to form one hockey team because of low numbers. The co-op decided to not have a nickname and so it’s just referred to as St. Cloud. St. Cloud Cathedral is still on its own and still one of the top Class 1A programs.

What really gets Robert’s goat, from what I can tell by the clippings, is when we write about the losing team rather than the winning team. For instance, in an area girls basketball roundup we wrote, “Kelsi Martini contributed 17 points as the Pequot Lakes Patriots fell 61-59 in overtime to the Detroit Lakes Lakers in a Mid-State Conference game Friday, Dec. 6.”

The reason we report it like that instead of Detroit Lakes defeated Pequot Lakes is because we cover the Patriots and not the Lakers and so we highlight the team we cover. If that team losses than we write that they lost. People in Detroit Lakes don’t subscribe to the Dispatch. We do have a good number of subscribers in Pequot Lakes and so we tailor our coverage to them and our other communities.

Another faithful reader who calls me a bit is Vern in Jenkins. His question or concern is our lack of Gopher coverage. Vern is like a lot of our readers in that he doesn’t really care about high school sports. He’s a Gopher fan to the core.

And while we try to get as much professional and college sports in our paper, our bread and butter, is our high school coverage. With that said, we try hard to find that balance to give our readers all the information they need. Most recently, Vern called about the Gopher women’s basketball team and rightfully so. They are 10-1 and just starting Big 10 play. Vern’s call is why we included the Big 10 standings for both the men and women in today’s scoreboard and why we will continue to do so on a weekly basis. Again, we try, but even I admit we fail when it comes to covering women’s athletics, but our hands are tied in what stories our provided to us by our news service. Your calls for more women’s coverage have been sent up the chain of command.

The final topic of discussion is of my own wondering. It involves honoring those who have dedicated a lifetime to high school sports.


This fall, Crosby-Ironton named its gymnasium the Dave Galovich Gymnasium. A fitting honor for a man who didn’t ask for it.

A few years back Vendale named it’s football field after Mike Mahlen, the first Minnesota football coach to reach 400 career wins.

Both instances made me wonder when Brainerd would get busy. In its defense, the Brainerd School District does a nice job honoring its greats with the Brainerd Hall of Fame and the Warrior Athletic Hall of Fame. Brainerd’s All-Sports Banquet is second to none.

But I believe it’s time when you go to a Warrior gymnastics meet you walk into the Dave Maras Arena. When you watch the Brainerd Warriors play baseball it should be at the Lowell Scearcy Stadium. And of course, Brainerd football and Ron Stolski are synonymous. And let’s not forget the Bruce Thompson Tennis facility.

“There has been talk when you look at the body of work of a coach like Dave Maras, coach Searcy in baseball, Stolski,” Campbell said. “There is actually board policy that exists when it comes to naming buildings and facilities. I don’t know if there is a timeline for any of this, but if there is some organic, community-based movement around then it would need to come before the board. Ultimately it becomes their decisions. But yes, there has been some discussion.

“Interestingly, Stolski is still coaching and I believe the way the policy is written something can’t be named after a person until they are retired.”

There are other worthy candidates in Brainerd and our surrounding communities of this type of recognition.

I believe it’s time we give back to those who gave back to so many, which is why I want to conclude by thanking Robert and Vern for being avid readers of the Dispatch. I hope for your continued support. And to all of the area sports fans and readers, if you want to know why we do things the way we do or if you want more professional tennis coverage like Mr. Carlson, who emailed me early last summer, please don’t hesitate to contact the sports department at or call me directly 218-855-5856 or use the postal service like Robert.


Here’s to a great 2020.

JEREMY MILLSOP may be reached at 218-855-5856 or Follow on Twitter at

Covering the Brainerd lakes area sports scene for the past 23 years.
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