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Athletics: All-sports banquet returns after two-year absence

The Brainerd Warriors All-Sports Banquet is scheduled for Monday, May 2.

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Jack Freeman
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BRAINERD — May 2 will be a first for Jack Freeman and for the Brainerd Warriors Athletic Department.

The Brainerd Warriors All-Sports Banquet returns to the spring calendar after a two-year break because of COVID-19. The evening’s festivities will begin with the Brainerd Warriors Athletic Hall of Fame meet and greet 5:30 p.m. Monday, May 2, at the Brainerd High School Cafeteria.

The banquet will begin with dinner at 6:30 p.m. and the ceremony at 7 p.m. in the high school gymnasium. Tickets are $10 and can be purchased in the high school activities office. This year’s program is open to all varsity athletes.

This will be Freeman’s first year hosting the event as the first-year activities director prepares for the honorary night. It will also be the first time a former athlete will be leading the ceremony, Freeman himself sat in the gymnasium as a former Warrior letterwinner. Now, as the fourth activities director since Ron Stolski began the all-sports banquet, Freeman is in charge of creating a smooth program.

“It’s such a special tradition in our community,” Freeman said. “It’s something many look forward to and many look back on with fond memories. I think it’s important to bring that tradition back and be back together again.

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“It will be special for our kids and our community to hear from some of the past greats. To be able to hear the impact Warrior athletics had in their lives after they moved on from high school is important. For our kids to hear some of those messages, there’s a lot of power in that.”

Freeman says he’s feeling the pressure to put on a good show like his predecessors accomplished. He said Brainerd’s All-Sports Banquet has been copied by many school districts across the nation as a chance to celebrate all of the school’s student-athletes.

That was an important aspect for former Warrior activities director Charlie Campbell.

“One thing that I grew to appreciate about that banquet was celebrating what we have in common as Warrior athletes and coaches,” Campbell said. “Coaching high school athletics today, it demands year-round attention. It’s really easy to forget that there or other programs in the department. There is a lot of pressure for kids to specialize in sports. The number of three-sport athletes continues to dwindle, especially in schools the size of Brainerd.

“That was one of the pieces that I really came to appreciate. That was something that was a symbol of unity within the department. We celebrated all of our programs and student-athletes at one time.”

Freeman said the hope is this year’s program has been streamlined. He joked that he’s been pressured into keeping the program moving.

“We like to celebrate and recognize a lot of people and really make it about all of our kids and coaches and everybody who is a part of the Warrior family,” Freeman said. “When you’re recognizing all of those accomplishments, it can take some time. We’re going to try to be respectful and cognizant of that time and keep it moving.”

That might be hard with the number of team state appearances as well as individual accomplishments at the state level.

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“This is also just a way to say thank you to the community,” Freeman said. “We have a special community that takes a lot of pride in our teams, kids and programs. To be able to recognize all of their accomplishments as well as to say thank you to our community for the great support we get will make it a special nice.”

JEREMY MILLSOP may be reached at 218-855-5856 or jeremy.millsop@brainerddispatch.com. Follow on Twitter at www.twitter.com/jeremymillsop.

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