Nordic Ski: Little Falls Nordic ski enjoying 2 decades of success
The Little Falls Flyers Nordic ski programs have enjoyed lasting success since its inception in 1995.
LITTLE FALLS — Terry Wasland looks back at his time as head coach of the Little Falls Flyers Nordic ski team fondly.
And why wouldn’t he? Before retiring in 2017, Wasland coached the Nordic ski teams since the start of the program in 1995.
Wasland helped build a powerhouse at Little Falls where his girls’ teams went to state 11 times in 12 years.
“We had some male skiers who had some success and made the state tournament and were All-State,” Wasland said. “We had some really talented ninth-grade girls who were just coming into the system and it all depends on the type of athlete you get and the leadership you get. That started the desire to really excel and get to the state tournament. Those girls kept teaching the younger girls and it just became a situation where athletes came into the program and learned how to be successful.”
Mattia Hendrickson, who inherited Wasland’s position, has continued the success for the Little Falls Nordic ski program — this time on the boys’ side.
Last week at the state Nordic ski meet marked the seventh straight season the Flyer boys reached state. They have also been Section 8 champions in back-to-back seasons.
“I’ve tried to step in and show the athletes that they deserve to be there if they put in the work,” Hendrickson said. “We’ve had some really successful individuals as well as teams, so the athletes see that and they know how much they need to work in the offseason.”
Wasland said when he coached he would joke with the parents that he would spend more time with their kids than they would.
“I would have them for maybe 90 minutes to two hours every day,” he said. “But if all I did was teach them how to ski fast, I really didn’t do much at all. I wanted to teach them how to give their very best every day in practice, not have any excuses and put the team first before the individual.”
Josh Gold, Jason Thielen and Wasland’s son, Tim, made state appearances in the early 2000s to really give the Flyers’ program momentum.
“It was those middle school girls, who were watching the success of those boys,” Wasland said. “Then in a few years that is when the girls’ team really started to take off and have success.”
Keeping the history of success going is something Hendrickson tries to do as a coach.
“I was a skier on the Little Falls throughout middle school and high school,” Hendrickson said. “I was on the girls’ teams that had a really long run of making it to state. We had a really strong girls’ program and now the boys' team has taken the turn to be successful.”
Hendrickson skied for the Flyers from 2010-2013 and said Wasland helped her become a good competitor.
“There were really high expectations for us,” Hendrickson said. “We were really motivated individually and competitively amongst each other. So we still say that it’s OK to compete with your teammates, but to still do it for the betterment of the team.”
Even though Wasland isn’t coaching anymore, he still follows the program's recent success and can be found at the meet Little Falls hosts at Camp Ripley and at the section meet.
“It’s really satisfying,” Wasland said. “The senior boys this year were just starting in my last year of coaching. I got to see them as middle schoolers and they have come a long way. It’s fun for me to go and work the meets. I go cheer them on and I think they like to see their old coach.”
Wasland also had high praise for the current coach, Hendrickson.
“Mattia skied for me from sixth grade on, so I don’t have to give her much advice,” he said. “She was a sponge and learned so well. She does a great job with the program and has continued to have a lot of success. It encourages me to see the job she is doing.”
CONRAD ENGSTROM may be reached at 218-855-5861 or email@example.com. Follow on Twitter at www.twitter.com/the_rad34.