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consideration patience forgiveness confidencecommitment peacefulness determination cooperation helpfulness flexibility kindness caring loyalty humility


profile thankfulness

unity honor service

justice friendliness modesty cleanliness


honesty love tact


purposefulness determination courtesy

moderation joyfulness reliability assertiveness idealism self-discipline tolerance creativity perseverance

courage diligence detachment compassion excellence generosity gentleness enthusiasm understanding

trustworthiness truthfulness

“The life of the nation is secure only while the nation is honest, truthful and virtuous.� - Frederick Douglas

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t’s our annual section looking at some of the interesting people who make up the fabric of our town. But this year, our Citizen of the Year, Cindy Diessner, and Lifetime Achievement Award Winner, Kymn Anderson, helped us look at this special section through a different lens. Both women helped launch The Virtues Project – Faribault, a program designed to not only allow area residents to recognize and develop the virtues they possess, but recognize them in others. In a nutshell, it’s seeing the good in yourself, developing your positive traits, and noticing — and pointing out — the positive in others. It’s a powerful tool that Diessner and others associated with The Virtues Project – Faribault say is making an obvious difference in classrooms and board rooms across the community. As we put together this section we began noticing that many of the virtues — often the words themselves — popped up in each individual’s story. So what you’ll see in this year’s section are the virtues used as design elements and incorporated into every piece. We think it’s a great way to honor the work of The Virtues Project – Faribault. And when it comes to virtues, we can’t think of anyone more deserving of the Lifetime Achievement Award than Kymn Anderson. Kymn has long advocated for this community, as a twentysomething city councilor and more recently as the Chamber of Commerce president. But Kymn’s greatest gift to this community may have been the strength and leadership she showed in the weeks and months after her friend and colleague Barbara Larson was killed. Kymn showed this community that despite our deep grief, there was healing, and that the best way to honor Barb was by celebrating her life and the virtues she so willingly shared with all who knew her. May 2018 | A special section of the Faribault Daily News 514 Central Avenue | Faribault, MN 55021 PUBLISHER Sam Gett EDITOR Suzanne Rook ADVERTISING MANAGER Mark Nelson COVER DESIGN & LAYOUT Kate Townsend-Noet Profile 2018 is distributed to subscribers and readers of the Faribault Daily News at no additional charge. It is available for individual sale at the front counter of the Faribault Daily News for $1. All rights reserved. ©2018.



Citizen of the Year


Hidden Gems



Though she never got the opportunity to dance competitively the way her Faribault Emeralds dance teams have in her 27 years as head coach, Lois Krinke’s always been able to keep a beat.

Al Spitzack is the chairman of Minnesota’s oldest and longest-running Fourth of July celebration, but he won’t take the credit for the success of the yearly event attended by thousands.


Lifetime Achievement



Faribault Youth Investment Director Becky Ford spends a lot of time behind the scenes with young Faribaultians, not only from her office at Cannon River STEM School, but out in the community.

Jeff Johnson’s decisionmaking ability has likely helped through the years as an attorney; it will be tested in his new role as a judge for the Third Judicial District.

37 28 Why have Logan Lehman and Sam Temple made a video series on the history of Faribault? Why would Logan’s mom drive him to Faribault three or four times a week? Why Faribault? Why Faribault’s history?


Team Korea head hockey coach and Faribault native Sarah Murray on her expereince living abroad and what’s next.

34 Tiffany Tripp, who often works behind the scenes to accomplish her goals, is dedicated, motivated and modest about her past experiences.



40 Just like he did when he was an eighth-grader, Gordon Liu teaches a weekly citizenship class for the burgeoning immigrant community, helping them learn English, pass citizenship tests and become accustomed to the way things work in the United States.

It hasn’t been a full academic year since Louis began her position as Jefferson Elementary School principal, but her investment in the school is evident.



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Cindy Diessner, Faribault’s 2018 Citizen of the Year, stops for a moment in River Bend Nature Center. It’s a place Diessner frequents each summer, often with her husband, Jim Muehlbach, to walk or to sit in a shady spot and read. (Suzanne Rook/Faribault Daily News)


Citizen of the Year


looks for a revolution with The Virtues Project - Faribault


fter almost 15 years in Carleton College’s Financial Aid Office, Cindy Diessner’s moving on. Last month she submitted paperwork announcing her retirement months earlier than planned. It’s time, said Diessner, Faribault’s 2018 Citizen of the Year. She’s got plans. Nope, no tickets to a tropical location, no stack of books she’s longing to dive into and no schedule filled with endless lazy mornings. Quite the contrary. Diessner’s looking to amp up her involvement with a long list of Faribault nonprofits. Her smile broadens and her eyes glisten as she rattles off the list of groups she’s anxious to work with: Faribault’s Future, Faribault

Diversity Coalition, Faribault Senior Center, Basic Blessings, Faribault’s Supply Our Children…. “There are so many things I want to do in Faribault instead of just sleep here,” she said. As if she hasn’t already plunged in head first, working to make a real difference in a city that often fails to acknowledge its strengths. In 2015, as part of Faribault’s Future program, Diessner was required to give a talk about something other participants didn’t know about. For months, she struggled, wondering what she could share that would be of value to the rest of the group. It was then she remembered a seminar she attended years before on the International Virtues Project. Started in the early ‘90s, the project lists 100 virtues all humans are born with and have the potential to develop. Those virtues, which cover everything from Acceptance to Zeal, are developed and strengthened in an individual’s family life, and through education, work, community and faith communities. Diessner’s talk was so well received that several community members began discussing how it could be implemented in the local community, eventually settling on The Virtues Project - Faribault, a collaboration of several organizations, including the Faribault Area Chamber of Commerce, Faribault Foundation and Faribault Diversity Coalition. Each Tuesday for a year, beginning in late July 2016, the Daily News ran a Virtue of the Week, a full page of information on a different virtue and how readers could incorporate it into their daily lives. Much of the text was developed and written by Diessner. Not only were the weekly virtues were a


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Cindy Diessner, center, is already involved with the Faribault Diversity Coalition, but she wants to dive even deeper into volunteering with that organization and a number of others. (Suzanne Rook/Faribault Daily News)

businessman George Wickstrom, Diessner’s longtime friend, mentor and former boss.


Bringing people together It’s not a surprise Diessner’s so committed to The Virtues Project. Now 68, Diessner grew up in the Redwood Falls, in the southwestern part of the state. Like so many children of the ‘60s, Diessner’s open to new ideas. But while the changing culture may have played a role, Diessner believes it was a deep love for Jesus that was the key. The minister at her family’s Methodist church wasn’t much of a sermonist, she

“No man can attain his true station except through his justice. No power can exist except through unity. No welfare and no well-being can be attained except through consultation.” - Baha’u’llah hit, the local Virtues Project trained dozens of “master facilitators” who are spreading the message throughout the community about how virtues can be developed in every aspect of daily life. “Without her, The Virtues Project would never have happened,” said Faribault

said. So when it was time for him to deliver his Sunday message, Diessner would pop out a book on another one of the world’s religions and start to read. That, she said, helped her begin to understand that most every religion teaches the same good things about people. For 15 years, she continued

The Gracias Program from the Faribault Foundation in October 2017 recognized the Virtues Project. Pictured are George Wickstrom, Barb Handahl, Cindy Diessner, Joy Culpepper, Kymn Anderson, Marsha Morris-Beck and Brenda Jirik. (Photo courtesy of Dee Bjork)


her studies, solidifying her belief in the oneness of mankind. Where religion, race, sexuality and nationalities divide people, the virtues bring people together, she said. If it all sounds a little New Age, Diessner would probably understand, while politely pointing out that all 100 virtues are universally valued traits and that developing them in yourself and others can only improve our world. Maybe that’s why she’s gone full throttle into a project which seems to have

become part of her. Cindy Diessner’s dark, slightly oversize glasses and closely cropped salt and pepper hair aren’t the only things about her that stand out. As she talks about The Virtues Project, she literally lights up, emitting a aura of sheer joy. But there’s a calm about Diessner, who periodically mentions which of the virtues she’s noticed in her conversation partner. “She sees good and virtues in everyuuu

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Cindy Diessner’s set of Virtues cards are well worn. She doesn’t take them everywhere she goes, but they’re never far from her thoughts. (Suzanne Rook/ Faribault Daily News)

In 2001, she married Faribault’s Jim Muehlbach, but it took several years before she moved to town full-time. Though Faribault’s only a short distance from her then home in Falcon Heights, Diessner’s attachment to the cities was so strong that it took time to get used to the idea that she needed to leave it. “That’s why I feel so for refugees,” she said. “They leave their friends, their families, their homes, their careers.”

The right time

Cindy Diessner likes to stay away from the spotlight, but her work with The Virtues Project - Faribault has brought her some well-deserved recognition. (Suzanne Rook/Faribault Daily News)

body,” said Kymn Anderson, former Faribault Area of Chamber of Commerce president who’s working with Diessner and others on The Virtues Project - Faribault. “I’ve never seen her exasperated or frustrated.” Wickstrom seconds that. “I don’t know many people who are more passionate, more diligent about what they’re involved in,” he said, describing Diessner as hard-working, responsible, thoughtful, compassionate and “one of the most ethical people I know.” The Virtues Project changes lives, said Wickstrom, who relayed a story about a teacher friend of his and Diessner’s who’d been having difficulty with her class. After a couple of conversations about her struggles, Diessner suggested the teacher introduce The Virtues Project to her class. A month later, Wickstrom said, the teacher reported a

“180-degree turnaround.”

On to Faribault After finishing high school, Diessner headed to the University of Minnesota Twin Cities to major in early childhood education. But while doing her student teaching, Diessner fell ill. A lengthy illness gave her time to reassess, and consider other career opportunities. She took a job with Pako Corp., and before long was selling photographic processing equipment in northern California. But when her mother got sick, Diessner headed back to Minnesota and opened a business with a friend, Michael Gondek, selling photo supplies and equipment. Eventually, she sold Gondek her share of the business, but continued to work for him, 25 years in all.


Diessner stumbled onto The International Virtues Project years ago at a conference. She immediately liked the idea and thought it would work well in Faribault. But as she shared it with others, she quickly realized that there were many other local projects in the works, leaving little time for her idea. But when she shared the Virtues Project with Faribault’s Future, it spoke to several in the room. “One by one, people said they like this,” said Diessner. Diessner won’t take credit for the project’s success, noting all that’s been done by Anderson, George Wickstrom, Barb Handahl, Marsha Morris-Beck and others, including Daily News Publisher Sam Gett. His faith in the project, she said, disseminated it farther and faster than she’d hoped. Similarly, Diessner was reluctant to accept the Citizen of the Year award, doing so only after much arm twisting, the realization that it would help promote The Virtues Project - Faribault and that she could share the evening with Lifetime Achievement Award winner Kymn Anderson, one of the project’s earliest and strongest supporters. The Faribault Citizen of the Year, given annually, recognizes an individual who in the prior 12 months has made a positive

impact on the city and its residents. It’s selected by prior Citizens of the Year and is now in its 26th year. Dee Bjork, who sat on the Citizen of the Year selection committee and took the facilitators’ class in 2016, said Diessner’s the perfect choice for the honor, and has nothing but praise for the project. “She really is deserving,” Bjork said, running through a litany of reasons why The Virtues Project is so valuable and necessary. “It’s very powerful,” she said of using it in her daily life. “My relationships are better because of taking that class and realizing I can be more mindful of my language.” Diessner’s passion for The Virtues Project is utterly contagious, says Anderson, in part, because it’s an inherent part of who she is. “She believes that everything is for everybody. Everything is always out there on the table for everybody to interject,” Anderson said of Diessner. “She trusts the universe to take the world where it needs to go.” Reach Regional Managing Editor Suzanne Rook at 507-333-3134. Follow her on Twitter @rooksuzy. ©Copyright 2018 APG Media of Southern Minnesota. All rights reserved.


The mission of The Virtues Project Faribault is to promote and encourage the recognition and practice of virtues, to enrich the lives of people in our community, and to further the cause of unity. The Mission of The International Virtues Project is to inspire the practice of virtues in everyday life by helping people of all cultures to discover the transformative power of these universal gifts of character. … Virtues are the essence of each individual. They are the content of our character and the basis of genuine happiness. The local Steering Committee is a small group that welcomes anyone interested in employing all practical resources to bring the five strategies of The Virtues Project to everyone in our area.

The Virtues Project empowers: • individuals to live more authentic meaningful lives • families to raise children of compassion and integrity • educators to create safe, caring, and high performing learning communities • business and civic leaders to encourage excellence and ethics in the work place and the community For more information, email

Like dandelions in spring, they’re all over town: people of character who’ve made this city an even better place to live. That’s why this year, The Daily News, in coordination with The Virtues Project-Faribault, is honoring some of the city’s Hidden Gems. The project’s mission is to promote and encourage the recognition and practice of virtues, to enrich the lives of people in our community

Jason and Maggie DeMars When it comes to Jason and Maggie DeMars, what stands out is their helpfulness. Over the past 10 years, the DeMarses have hosted a winter ice golf event on Roberds Lake. When the funds are collected from the Winjum’s Shady Acres Resort event, they given to a local organization or family that needs help. “Ten years ago, they started a golf tournament and it started small,” said Pam Sartor, Winjum’s co-owner. “They would give to needy kids in the area and each tournament would raise funds for that child.” Sometimes the money goes to help pay for after kids’ school activities and sometimes it goes toward medical bills, like for a New Prague child who was diagnosed with a form of brain cancer. Over the years, the tourneys benefited Habitat for Humanity, local families and individuals. According to Sartor, the DeMarses fundraising efforts have exceeded $100,000. They began with one course out on Roberds Lake, but as more teams signed up, they added a second course as well. In recent years, there were as many as 30 teams. “It started getting bigger,” Sartor said of the event. Even in the years when the ice wasn’t thick enough to hold the event, the DeMarses would host onshore activities using the golf teams that would incorporate basketball, bag toss, football kicks and the silent auction. “They are always a great couple to work with,” she said. “Always friendly, always smiling, good stewards of our property and the lake.”


Profile 2018


and to further the cause of unity. The Virtues Project-Faribault is based on The International Virtues Project which lists 100 virtues and says that all children are born with these virtues in potential, and that awakening them can bring change to the world. Already in 2018, we’ve honored three Hidden Gems. With your help, there will be plenty more to come.

Mary Isaacson

Chad Kreager

Starting a new job can be daunting, but not when you’ve got Mary Isaacson showing you the ropes. Faribault Parks and Recreation Aquatics Supervisor Kevin O’Brien credits Isaacson, who’s worked at Parks & Rec for 20 years, with making the transition painless. That’s just one reason why he nominated her as one of Faribault’s Hidden Gems. “Coming into the new position, (Mary and colleague Mary Tatge) were so welcoming and really did an awesome job welcoming me and guiding me to the ways of Faribault,” O’Brien said. “She showed me how things have been done and gave me direction on where they see them going. She helped mold the future of Faribault aquatics, improve on it and make it great in Faribault.” Isaacson not only teaches aquatics classes and private lessons through Parks & Rec, but self-defense classes for women as well. Tatge and others who attended the April Hidden Gems “ambush,” expressed their love for a stunned and slightly overwhelmed Isaacson, recounting how she’s brought sunshine into each of their lives. In his Hidden Gems nomination, O’Brien called Isaacson assertive, cheerful, caring and committed as well as friendly and humble. “She puts all of her heart and soul into whatever program she’s working on,” O’Brien said last month. It was Tatge, however, who put into words what makes Isaacson such an rock-solid choice as a Hidden Gem: “You put a smile on your face and brighten all of our days.”

Kreager had not been recognized for his work in the community until his mother, Pam Kreager, nominated him as Faribault’s first Hidden Gem. “I was both very appreciative and also a little uncomfortable with it,” Kreager said about the distinction. “There’s a lot of people that do good things in our community and this is trying to recognize these people. I do a number of things but I don’t do any of them alone. I could go through each program I’m involved with and point to another person who’s awesome, too.” Kreager is paid on-call firefighter, serves on the Faribault Parks & Recreation Board, and coaches youth football, basketball and baseball “He’s a very humble, fairly quiet person that does what he can do based on his abilities and his knowledge, and doesn’t look for recognition for doing it,” Faribault Fire Chief Dusty Dienst said. When nominating her son, Pam Kreager listed her son’s various commitments and accomplishments, highlighting his love of coaching. “The whole reason behind being involved as a baseball coach is because one day the coach wasn’t able to show up, Chad hopped in his car, went home and grabbed all of the bats and equipment he had and jumped in as coach for the day,” she said. “He began coaching football because he didn’t like to see the long lines of kids waiting in between drills. He jumped in and volunteered to keep them busy. He also contributes to the basketball team by helping them with their website.” Still, finding the time is always a challenge. “It can be exhausting at times. I need to be organized, but I have a great support system through my life,” he said.

To nominate someone for the Hidden Gem award, visit and click the Faribault Hidden Gems link under “Forms.”

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commitment to community honored with

Lifetime Achievement Award By NICK GERHARDT


lifetime achievement award doesn’t seem exactly right to Kymn Anderson, but for a group of Faribault residents the timing and her innumerable contributions to the community, it makes perfect

sense. Each year a group of Faribault community members and former Citizens of the Year meet to select a new Faribault Daily News Profile Citizen of the Year. That group, however, has the option, but rarely does, choose someone to receive a lifetime achievement award. But with Anderson stepping down as the Faribault Chamber of Commerce and Tourism after 20 years of leading the organization, the timing couldn’t be more logical. Anderson announced she’d step away from leading the chamber last year and handed the reins over to Nort Johnson earlier this year, but her work is far from over in the community. Anderson who has served on everything from Scouts, booster clubs, PTO, the Economic Development Authority, City Council and countless other positions, has stayed on with the chamber as a special projects coordinator, which includes work with

Kymn Anderson.


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Kymn Anderson has served in many roles since moving to Faribault in the ‘70s, most notably as Chamber of Commerce president. While she stepped down from that position earlier this year, Anderson hasn’t stopped working to move Faribault forward. This month she earned a Lifetime Achievement Award for her longtime dedication to the community. (Daily News file photo)

the Faribault Foundation and Faribault’s offshoot of the Faribault Virtues Project. Future Program, a leadership program The Virtues team and the Faribault Daily designed to help younger members in the News are working together to identify community. Her latest venture is helping and share stories of the people working establish The Virtues Project in Faribquietly to better the community. ault. Anderson joined the Chamber as The Virtues Project was founded in president in 1999 and since that time has 1991 and its goal is to empower individ- worked to promote the city’s businesses uals to live more authentic and meaning- and business people. She’s taken a stand ful lives. The project lists 100 virtues. on key issues, built member programs They include assertiveness, creativity, that have developed community leaders flexibility, gentleness, moderation and and fellow advocates, and has been self-discipline. involved in any number of projects, both big — like the SageGlass, Minnesota The idea, according to organizers Municipal Power Agency’s Faribault of the international project, is that “all power plant and downtown renovachildren are born with the virtues in tion — and not potential, and so big. All have when parents and “A lot of the things I’ve educators awaken built Faribault to done is through my work. what it is today. these gifts of character, we I listen to the needs of the Some of can change the those smaller community and tailor it world.” projects have to meet the needs of the included work Cindy Diessner, who is this community.” - Kymn Anderson with the city’s year’s Citizen of murals and the the Year, prorestoration of the vided the impetus in bringing the project Security Bank clock. Anderson is the first to say any project to Faribault in 2016. She had attended she’s been involved with has been a Virtues Project trainings and decided to talk about her experiences at a Chamber group effort and she was just one of the of Commerce event. She was then joined cogs that spurred the project to compleby George Wickstrom, and later, Ander- tion. “She has been a moving force in this son, to work out how to implement the community,” said Father Henry Doyle, project in the community. The Hidden Gems initiative is an the 2014 Citizen of the Year, who was


part of the group who selected Anderson for the Lifetime Achievement award.

as a 23-year-old when she became the first woman elected to the City Council. She credits Jim for being supportive as Connector, builder, healer she pursued her passion. His support has often extended to him helping her with Anderson grew up in a household in events by running errands or completing Montgomery that placed value on comtasks when she’s stretched for time. munity participation and selflessness. “A lot of the things I’ve done is Service to Anderson is simply that -through my work,” Anderson said. “I service. It’s not something that deserves listen to the needs of the community and recognition, though that often comes to tailor it to meet the needs of the commuthose who give so freely of their time nity.” as Anderson has done since arriving in Anderson worked on the organizing Faribault with her husband, Jim, in the committee that established Heritage 1970s. Days in Faribault more than 30 years Jim served 30 years as a deputy for the ago and even then it was clear that she Rice County Sheriff’s office and Kymn uuu started serving the community in 1978


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wanted to work to benefit the community. “She’s always looking for what’s best for Faribault,” said Shattuck-St. Mary’s President Nick Stoneman, a former Citizen of the Year who also was part of the group who selected Anderson for the Lifetime Achievement award. She’s long been an advocate for schools in Faribault. She’s supported levy projects for the school district because she believes the schools are really an essential part to make the community strong, she said. Anderson’s also active in her church, Divine Mercy Catholic Church, where she’s “She’s a volunteered connecter and for many functions a builder. She’s and committees. a healer. Her Her volpeople skills unteerism have served extends with the her well.” - Nick Stoneman, Shattuck- Faribault RoSt. Mary’s President tary, which played a significant role in raising money for murals and the Security Bank clock restoration project. “She’s a connecter and a builder,” Stoneman said. “She’s a healer. Her people skills have served her well.” Anderson has helped the community and the chamber heal in the wake of the

Faribault Area Chamber of Commerce Director Kymn Anderson led the effort to remember Larson following her December 2016 death. Also pictured is Nort Johnson. (Daily News file photo)

Purpsefulness death of longtime chamber employee and friend Barb Larson, who was killed by her ex-husband at the chamber in December 2016. Anderson helped organize a “Happy Barb Day” in January to celebrate Larson’s life and the chamber dedicated a memorial mosaic in Larson’s honor last

Faribault Chamber of Commerce President Kymn Anderson welcomes those in attendance to the awards luncheon. (Daniel Borgertpoepping/Daily News file photo)

year. The chamber was also one of 20 communities last year that participated in a statewide day of action to end domestic violence. Anderson has been a node in the network of community members who have helped make Faribault a community. But her work with the Faribault Future Pro-

gram and continued community involvement will make sure the network continues to operate optimally when she begins to delegate more of the tasks she’s been a part of for the past four decades. ©Copyright 2018APG Media of Southern Minnesota. All rights reserved.

Outgoing Chamber President/CEO Kymn Anderson recognizes her family, thanking them for their support, during the annual Chamber gala in February at the Faribault American Legion. (Daily News file photo)



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Profile 2018


Lois Krinke is approaching three decades leading the 10-time state champion Faribault Emeralds. (Daily News file photo)

Lois Krinke comes full circle to lift up the Emeralds By MIKE RANDLEMAN


ois Krinke has always had the rhythm inside her. Though she never got the opportunity to dance competitively the way her Faribault Emeralds dance teams have in her 27 years as head coach, Krinke’s always been able to keep a beat. “I was a cheerleader my senior year but I was in band and choir and orchestra and those kinds of things,” Krinke recalled growing up in the small western Wisconsin town of Durand in the 1950s and ‘60s. “I really loved, well, not orchestra,

I scrapped orchestra, but I did pep band and marching band and all those kinds of things. I really had a love for music.” Krinke didn’t give much thought to organized competitive dance, namely because it didn’t exist yet, even at the club level. She and her rhythmically inclined friends found other ways to let loose. “As a kid growing up in my teenage years we used to crash wedding dances where we could dance,” Krinke recalled. “That was always fun to do.” For decades, those wedding masquerades were as close as Krinke came to immersing herself in the world of dance. That is, until former Faribault High School athletic director Lowell Nome-

Lois Krinke, left, coached Tammy Rosset before Rosset became her longtime assistant coach with the Emeralds. (Photo courtesy of Lois Krinke)


land found himself in a bind in 1991. “I owned Fitness in Motion at that time, too. I would put together all our aerobic classes. So, he thought with the stretching and aerobics that I did and choreographing all that that I would be a good fit for coaching,” Krinke said. “I turned him down because … at the time, I just didn’t think I wanted to coach high school kids. So, I said no, but he came back a couple weeks later and said they’re going to cancel the program if I didn’t do it because they couldn’t find anyone.” Krinke couldn’t bear the thought of her daughter’s Emeralds club team falling by the wayside. She was all in.

A program savior

Twenty-seven years, 10 state championships, 13 section titles and 18 conference titles later, it’s come full circle. Out of utter necessity, Krinke was summoned back to coach in 2017-18 just months after retiring. “There wasn’t anyone in the area with a coaching license,” Krinke said after new head coach and friend, Jennifer Sims, stepped aside for personal reasons at the beginning of the season. “The other two coaches that were under her didn’t have their coaching licenses or a current one. So, had I not come back, the program was in question.” Krinke, 72, backed Sims’ decision fully. She knew what she had to do, but it


Profile 2018


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The Faribault Emeralds jazz team seen at the 2018 state dance competition. (Daily News file photo)

required inner strength. A wave of personal tragedies — the loss of her mother, coming down with pneumonia and influenza, and her son’s two-month hospitalization — rocked Krinke in 2016 and 2017. In her words, she hit “rock bottom” Gathering the strength to pour herself back into the team seemed unfathomable. Why bother when her hall of fame legacy was already cemented? It took necessity to bring it to the fore, but Krinke came to realize one thing: Being back with the team didn’t sap her energy. It only made her stronger. “After being back I realized just how much I missed it,” Krinke said. She gained peace of mind when new assistant coach, Tiffany Boozier, obtained her coaching license. When the day comes for Krinke to retire, the second time should carry more permanence. That day isn’t in the immediate future. Krinke shed the interim tag from 2017-

check if the team was going to rally for a successful season. Boozier joined Lisa Dahl, a former Emeralds JV coach and head coach at Cannon Falls, as well as Krinke’s longtime assistant, Tammy Rossett. The dancers had years worth of trust with Krinke and Rossett, and even Dahl, who coached some of the older team “When you see what we’re going to bring members on JV. Boozier had to earn it. out for (costumes) for the second half, it’s “It was a little bit of a struggle. Mygoing to knock your socks off,” Krinke self, especially, coming in I never had a teased. relationship with the girls. It took a little That’s if everyone’s gotten their socks bit longer for them to warm up to me,” back on from last season. Boozier said. In a storied career filled with state titles, The gulf that existed between Boozier the 2018 run to state that netted a prelimi- and the Emeralds soon subsided after naries appearance in jazz and third place some awkward days and honest heart-toin high kick might be her most impressive hearts. feat of all. A chasm never really existed at all Timing is everything in dance, and the within the coaching staff. Emeralds began off count. The fear of the “We were always acquaintances but program faltering subsided when Krinke supportive of one another. Combining returned, but there were plenty of boxes to the four of us together was just a force,” 18, and with steely eyes is looking dead ahead toward 2018-19. The wheels are already in motion. She’s scheming up costumes for a season still over six months away. Of course, she’s already collaborated with Mark Henderson of Dirty Dog Productions for another year to come up with cuts of music.


Boozier said. “I felt like we all clicked right away. We all had our reservations at first like ‘Was this going to work? Were we going to get along?’ It was a unique circumstance, but once we started working together everything just clicked and felt so right.” Through the transition period in November through January, the Emeralds marched on like the powerhouse it’s known as. They swept both categories through all regular season competitions and the Big 9 Championships. No one beat them in high kick until they took the floor with the state’s best at Target Center. An apparently well-oiled machine on the outside really should have had a ‘Caution: women at work sign’ in front of it.’ “I’d say the team’s endurance of facing all these outside problems and still maintaining their focus and drive, their dedication to meet their goals is impressive,” Krinke said in January. “They’re a uuu

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Profile 2018


Dance costumes, like the sport, have evolved since Krinke’s coaching debut in the early 1990s, left, and 2018. (Left, submitted by Lois Krinke, right. Daily News file photo)

pretty tough team and they’re pretty committed.” Krinke’s 2017-18 team may have drilled harder than any other. Continuity has been a defining word of her program, but that was one thing the Emeralds had to do without. Widespread changes to both routines happened after each competition. Judges feedback at each stop was crucial in order for the team to get to state One critique of the team during the season was the girls’ lack of facial emotion compared to their competitors. A big contributor to that was the amount of thought and focus that went into each dance. Sometimes, the team implemented tweaks made just hours prior. Krinke had to break one of her cardinal rules to ensure her team was ready for state. “We never change anything from sections into state, just drill, drill, drill, but there are certain areas we could score higher,” Krinke said after sections. Krinke always challenges her teams with honest critique. Her dancers know it comes from the right place and are fueled by a desire to improve. “I don’t know if anyone has ever believed in me more than Lois,” said former Emerald Miranda Preble, 22 on Facebook. “She proved to me that hard work does

indeed pay off! I could not have been more happy being her dancer. She was a stern person and I’m so glad she is the one that lead us to victory. Lois is one of the strongest people I’ve ever met.” Krinke’s resilient team rolled with more changes on the eve of the biggest weekend of the season. Krinke pulled the right strings again as both routines were undoubtedly the Emeralds’ best of the year at state. “It’s unreal,” said senior Nicole Colegrove. “A lot of teams, I don’t think they would have been able to handle it as well as we did.”

Traditions of excellence It’s funny how three simple words can go so far. All it takes for the Emeralds to be ready to run — or dance — through a wall is the iconic phrase “LET’S GO FARIBAULT!” “I noticed so many parents were so nervous before dance competitions,” said former Emeralds parent, Scott Halvorson, “and while we were all screaming and yelling to support the dancers and to release our energy, it was chaotic.” Halvorson’s first daughter to make the Emeralds, Lauren, made the team as a senior in 2003-04. In his first year as a dance parent, he created the unifying rally

cry that is now passed down from one dance dad to the next. “I have a deep and loud voice, so I started to scream ‘Let’s go Faribault!’ Halvorson said. “My chant became more polished and after a few competitions I was able to sync it perfectly prior to the dance music starting.” It’s just one of many traditions that define the program. “Are you still going to do the state story?” the girls peppered Sims’ new coaching staff last fall. An uncertain answer turned into an assured yes come February. For years, on the night before day one of the state competition, Krinke assembles the team in her hotel room. Inspirational music fills the four walls as Krinke begins to recount the story of the season. The girls are taken for a ride, recalling the early-season nerves. Krinke moves on to the wave of emotions felt at the first competition and how the girls continued to grow together. “Now we’re at state,” Krinke would say as the music builds, “What are we going to do??” The room erupts into a frenzy every time. The intimate setting evokes powerful memories that live only in the minds of that year’s team.

That is, until this season. Always open to collaboration, Krinke and the Emeralds now have another tradition. His name is Emerson. “One thing I started with the team, and it’s new, we have a traveling teddy bear, which we named Emerson,” Boozier said. “After each competition or sometimes a big week of practice, the captains and seniors would select a dancer who contributed so much that week or worked really hard or was really positive in practice. They’d collectively find a dancer to give this to and announce at the end of the week or competition who got Emerson.” Boozier’s former Prior Lake dancers have continued the tradition since her departure, leaving behind a record of every team to come through the program. In retrospect, such an account would have been invaluable to chronicle Krinke’s waves of talented teams. That story is still being written. “It’s open-ended,” Krinke said wryly. “You never know what can happen in a year.”


Reach Sports Reporter Mike Randleman at 507-3333119 or follow him on Twitter @fdnmike. ©Copyright 2018 APG Media of Southern Minnesota. All rights reserved.

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Profile 2018


2017 North Morristown Fourth of July parade grand marshals Al and Charla Spitzack wave to the crowd. Al Spitzack is also the event chairman. (Daily News file photo)

Celebration chair takes little credit

for keeping long-running festival going By JACOB SWANSON


l Spitzack is the chairman of Minnesota’s oldest and longest-running Fourth of July celebration, but he won’t take the credit for the success of the yearly event attended by thou-

sands. The annual North Morristown Fourth of July celebration draws a huge crowd of community members every year, who come for the food, entertainment and oldfashioned fun of the event in its 126th year. “It’s multiple efforts, not just me who’s doing this. I’m just the chairman,” Spitzack said. “We have a lot of good people

that help out doing a lot of jobs. Without that, like any organization, we would never float.” For Spitzack, the process of planning the 2019 celebration will begin just a month after this year’s celebration. That’s when he’ll start to book advertisers and the entertainment, one of the event’s biggest draws. “I know he’s probably working on it


the day of the Fourth for the next year already in terms of communicating with bands and getting information,” Charla Spitzack, Al’s wife, said. “They’ll start early on where there’s communication between the bands. I don’t even see all of that.” This year, North Morristown will welcome back Monroe Crossing, a member of the Minnesota Music Hall of Fame


Profile 2018


Page 17

STARS & STRIPES FOREVER Find more about the 2018 event at North Morristown Fourth of July Celebration on Facebook.

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LEFT: Youngsters at the 2017 North Morristown Fourth of July celebration enjoy rides on the oil barrel train John Krause built for the festival. Al Spitzack, who chairs the event, doesn’t like to take much of the credit for his years of hard work. (Daily News file photo) BELOW: Al Spitzack, right, on stage, chairs the longest-running Fourth of July celebration in the state. Last year, he and his wife, Charla, were the parade grand marshals. (Daily News file photo)

and International Bluegrass Music Association. “Our entertainment is top-notch,” Al Spitzack said. “It’s not just some mom and pop band. We pay these people, who are professional musicians, and it’s very good entertainment. Nobody tops our entertainment for the price you pay.” Though the food will cost you a couple of bucks, there’s no cost to attend the celebration, listen to the music, and watch the parade and fireworks, which also draw a super-sized crowd. “We don’t gouge people on our

prices,” Spitzack said. “Obviously we have to charge enough for the things we sell to make a reasonable profit, but we’re also very cognizant of families and what they can afford … We always keep that in mind.” Beyond the free high-quality entertainment, another standout aspect of the celebration is its patriotism, something Spitzack finds especially important. “We have tendencies in this country to forget our freedoms and take



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Profile 2018


Last year, the celebration honored Vietnam War veterans, while this year will honor all veterans from wars after Vietnam. “It’s not just a big party, it’s to look at what people have done in the past and the sacrifices they have made so that America Old-fashioned fun can be free and we can have choice,” Spitzack served two years in the miliCharla Spitzack said. “It’s more the emtary during the Vietnam era. He served phasis on the fact that we celebrate what as a medic at Arizona and California people have done in the past for us, as induction centers. He won’t take too much well as those who are continuing to keep credit for our nation that either, “We celebrate the Fourth of free.” however. Last “I was very July because it’s a celebration year was fortunate that of the birth of our nation. We still the 125th I never left are thankful for the freedoms we event and the states,” the most have and that’s why we like to Spitzack well-atsaid. “I was emphasize that.” tended, Al a medic and Al Spitzack Spitzack I worked in said, the induction centers—a pretty soft life compared to the though he doesn’t want to say that’s his doing. guys who were across the pond.” Jean Schmidtke, who ran the event’s si- “It has become more attended through lent auction for many years, said Spitzack the years as we go along,” he said. “It’s becoming maybe a little bit more well“has always been a patriot.” them for granted,” Spitzack said. “We celebrate the Fourth of July because it’s a celebration of the birth of our nation. We still are thankful for the freedoms we have and that’s why we like to emphasize that.”

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known and something pretty stable that’s With the size of the event, if you drove always there. People outside of our imby the event’s grounds on July 5th, Spitmediate community kind of look forward zack says you’d never know that just one to it and know what to expect.” day before, a large celebration was held With a growing celebration with high there. expectations that’s become a staple in the “There is no North Morristown… If area, the work is always increasing. With you look at a post office or look for North the group working on the event, however, Morristown, you’re not going to find it, Spitzack says it’s easy. because we don’t have a zip code,” Spit “Like any other chairman, I just make zack said. “It’s just an area that is referred sure things get done, and we have a great to as North Morristown, and that in itself group,” he said. “You really don’t have to is kind of unique because if you were to worry too much.” drive by now you would just think it’s just While any event changes over the a little celebration, but when you actucourse of 126 years, the North Morrisally go that day, there are so many people town Fourth of July celebration remains there, you just go ‘wow, I can’t believe the same at its core, with old-fashioned this is happening.’ You go back the day fun the core. later and there’s nothing “We change little there.” “He’s always things. The basic celDespite the size of the ebration is pretty much trying to figure celebration and a location the same,” Spitzack that you can’t find on a out ways to do said. “That’s what we map, Spitzack says there’s feel people like about no Fourth of July celebrathings better or it.” tion like the one in North new things and “He’s always trying Morristown. ways to keep the to figure out ways to “You’ll find a lot of do things better or new celebrations, obviously,” celebration fresh things and ways to keep he said. “You’d be hardand new. The the celebration fresh and pressed to find one like same, yet differnew,” Charla Spitzack this.” said. “The same, yet The celebration might ent.” different.” not be as good without Spit- Charla Spitzack On a day like the zack spearheading the effort Fourth of July, weather and thinking about the permitting, it can also plans a year in advance. be a good time to unplug, enjoy a ham “He’s always thinking about things,” burger and the parade, and get away from Charla Spitzack said. “It’s in the back of technology for a bit. his mind.” “It is non-technology. You don’t have Reach Sports Reporter Jacob Swanson at jswanto be looking at your iPhone all day and calling people,” Al Spitzack said. “It’s just or on Twitter @FDNjacob. relaxing. It’s very peaceful and enjoy©Copyright 2018 APG Media of Southern Minneable.” sota. All rights reserved.



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Page 19

Becky Ford’s role with Faribault Youth Investment involves a lot of behind-the-scenes work, some of which takes place in her office at Cannon River STEM School. Making connections with youth-serving organizations is her primary focus. (Misty Schwab/Faribault Daily News)

When it comes to developing local youth,

Becky Ford takes the mantle By MISTY SCHWAB

F community.

aribault Youth Investment Director Becky Ford spends a lot of time behind the scenes with young Faribaultians, not only from her office at Cannon River STEM School, but out in the

“I’m in touch with schools and nonprofits in town, working to make connections with people to help serve young people,” said Ford. Ford doesn’t follow a strict schedule as the Faribault Youth Investment (FYI) director. Instead, what’s happening in the community with youth impacts the way she goes about her week. And when it comes to youth, it’s rare when something isn’t going on in Faribault.

Since the FYI came into being, two community schools offering programs for the youth and families, 31 partners joined FYI in a collaborative effort, and nearly 2,200 youth have participated in FYI-supported programs. Although Ford didn’t make it happen all on her own, she’s been a strong force behind the youth empowerment in the community for over a decade.

A youth herself Growing up in Faribault, Ford participated in intramural sports like gymnastics, volleyball, softball, and basketball. By high school, her interest shifted from athletics to theater, choir ensemble and leadership opportunities. At the time, she didn’t realize these activities were categorized as youth development programs. uuu

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Profile 2018


psychological disorders. In 2002, Ford became the youth development coordinator for Faribault Public Schools, a position she held for five years. “That was a really fun job, too,” said Ford. “It was my first experience working in collaboration with youth organizations.” Ford said the objective of her role as youth development coordinator was about supporting students in leadership, empowering youth and learning about them outside the context of a classroom. Through this involvement, she influenced students to make high school a more respectful environment and to make positive choices. She worked with four or five different student groups, including STOP (Students Together Opposing Prejudice) and SPOTS (Students Performing on Tough Situations). As the youth development coordinator for the school district, Ford also took students to National Student Safety Conferences in Detroit, Seattle, and New Getting out in the community is all in a day’s work for Becky Ford. Doing so helps her see what area youth are up to and better under- Orleans. These conferences inspired Ford stand their needs. Pictured with her is Charles Cooper, Community School coordinator for Faribault Middle School. (Misty Schwab/ to implement ideas like the fifth-grade Faribault Daily News) lock-in, which has given middle schoolers an all-night opportunity to get to Sarah Dixon, an advisor of some of ogy and sociology, and I would work back Ford said she initially studied vocal muknow one another and learn about making those programs and who also served as a here [in Faribault] with youth programs.” sic at Minnesota State University, Morris, healthy choices. mentor, was influential to a teenage Ford. As a program assistant for Kids World, a but her interest in helping people, youth In 2007, Ford left her position at Farib “The reason I’m in youth work is besummer childcare program, Ford conin particular, led her to switch majors. But ault Public Schools to stay home with her cause of people like Sarah Dixon,” said nected with kids on a one-to-one basis and she hasn’t let go of her first love, provid- children. Ford. “She was a caring adult who asked became connected deeply in their energy ing music for church services, weddings “Toddlers are a lot like teenagers,” about life outside grades and gave support and creativity. Free Pops, a program in and funerals. Ford joked. “I needed to serve one or the to implement big ideas.” neighborhoods with limited youth invest- After college, Ford’s knowledge of other.” ment, opened Ford’s eyes to a demograph- severe emotional disorders in youth deep- While raising her family, Ford didn’t A passion for youth ic in Faribault with poverty challenges. ened while working at Cedar House, an completely cut ties with Faribault’s youth “I hadn’t worked with kids before who outpatient mental health facility in Farib- organizations. In 2008, she took a part “One of the very first jobs I had was didn’t have enough food on the table, who ault, for a year and a half. She worked with Kids World and a program called time position with Rice County Chemical Free Pops during the summer when I was lived with their grandparents,” said Ford. within a respite program for youth and and Mental Health Coalition and coordi“That’s what got me excited about being a learned to recognize common symptoms in college,” said Ford. “I was studying nated a mini grant program. While there, human services, which involved psychol- human services major.” of anxiety and depression, among other she met with youth applicants and made




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Page 21

Becky Ford, coordinator of Faribault Youth Investment, presents the Asset Champion award to Caren Hoffman, director of A Child’s Delight Too daycare center in May 2017. (Photo courtesy of Cheryl Strike)

recommendations to the coalition board, which awarded the grants. “The Chemical Health Coalition is where I got to see how systems affect youth and families,” said Ford. The systems Ford identified include any connection or disconnection with youth, including law enforcement, schools and regulations. Ford detected a loophole in a system regarding underage drinking. Working at the Chemical Health Coalition, Ford helped enact the county’s Social Host ordinance, which holds anyone knowingly allowing underage drinking in their home or on their property to be charged with a crime. Ford’s involvement with the coalition provided a pathway to her current position, Faribault Youth Investment coordinator. According to its website, “FYI is a coalition of organizations and agencies

During one of the events Becky Ford has organized in the last few months, Tufah, a Faribault high schooler who immigrated from Africa, talks about how she’s adjusted to life in Faribault and what hurdles she’s had to overcome to succeed. Other high school-age panelists pictured are, from left, Josh, Kathleen and Alex. (Daily News file photo)

who have come together to support Faribault youth.”

Collaboration As the FYI coordinator, Ford shares her office space in the Cannon River STEM school with Rice County Chemical and Mental Health Coalition Coordinator Katie Reed, who began in March. “Becky is so helpful and such a great resource,” said Reed. “[FYI] is such a needed organization in the community. The work that FYI and Becky are doing build up skills for youth so they’re less likely to drink and do drugs as teens. The

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Youth philosophy A pivotal framework Ford adapted from the Search Institute in Minneapolis, the 40 Developmental Assets, is what Ford called “the foundation of what [Faribault Youth Investment] is trying to do].” The assets, utilized in countries all over the world, consist of five main categories – social, personal, school, family, and community. To help other businesses and organizations improve their interactions with youth, Ford and facilitators from the school district lead “Everyone’s an Asset Builder” training sessions that involve


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exchange of information between the two entities is really valuable to the community.” Maggie Heurung, youth development coordinator for FYI, has works with Ford’s to connect teens with community partners. “Over the span of these last six months, I’ve learned a ton from Becky,” said Heurung. “She obviously has extensive experience in youth development. She really knows how to make those connections with community partners and also knows how to put that into action.”

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Profile 2018


Becky Ford attends meetings nonstop to improve the youth community in Faribault. Pictured at a Community School meeting, clockwise from left are Vicky Coon, Community School coordinator for Jefferson Elementary, Maggie Heurung, FYI youth development coordinator, Ford, and Charles Cooper, Community School coordinator for Faribault Middle School. (Misty Schwab/Faribault Daily News)

the 40 Developmental Assets. Over 200 adults in the community have received the training. Ford said the more Developmental Assets youth access, the better their chance of succeeding academically and exhibiting leadership abilities. On the contrary, youth with fewer assets are more likely to become enmeshed in substance abuse and early sexual encounters. However, Ford said youths with a high number of assets are more resilient if they do find themselves in harmful or difficult situations. Rather than trying to fix a problem, Ford’s philosophy is to better implement the 40 Developmental Assets into a teen’s life. For example, if a teen has little family support but excels academically, Ford believes in building on the support the teen finds in school. “We think about adults leading and kids who come, but there are so many more pieces to youth development,” said Ford. “We want to work from a place of strength as opposed to a place of problems.”

Another component of youth develop ment Ford believes goes under the radar is program quality. “There are things you can do to bolster programs that will result in a better outcome,” said Ford. As the joint applicant for the group that funds the Faribault Community School at Jefferson and Faribault Middle schools, FYI analyzes what keeps kids involved in the after school program. Since volunteers at the Community School began talking with youth one-on-one during mealtime, Ford said enrollment increased. To impact the greatest number of youth, Ford believes in looking at the big picture and opening communication between one organization and another to reduce duplicated efforts. She identified the multitude of choices as a strength for the Faribault area’s youth development, which is a reason why an online youth directory called Youth Connect! is in the works. The online brochure is in the final stages of development and includes a total of 170 entries, 78 of

which are sports. “Our youth need these opportunities,” she said. “Most of them are offered at least annually or during a specific season. It’s hard to know where to go to find that information.” While Ford said the opportunities for youth have increased significantly since she was young, another increase, use of technology, has given teens an even broader access to what’s beyond their community. “Increase in technology opens [youth] up to the world, and that can be really positive and can be really negative,” said Ford. “Younger people’s brain development is not yet complete. They have to be educated and supported in who they are to navigate technology wisely.”

sixth-graders at Faribault Middle School, and Eloise, 7, attends Nerstrand Charter School. “Our kids have a lot of friends in our neighborhood, so I facilitate community play,” said Ford. “We’re very involved in our church, so we spend a lot of time there a few times a week.” Whatever Ford is doing, you can bet it’s in Faribault. “This is our community,” said Ford. “[Dan and I] have been involved here in various capacities, really since 2000.”

Family life


Purposefulness When she’s not busy as the FYI director, Ford enjoys spending time with her husband Dan, the senior pastor at Faribault Evangelical Free Church, and their three children. Amelia and Malachi, 12, are

Reporter Misty Schwab can be reached at 507-7442551. Follow her on Twitter @APGmisty. ©Copyright 2018 APG Media of Southern Minnesota. All rights reserved.

Find out more about Faribault Youth Investment or the 40 Development Assets online at, or learn more about the Rice County Chemical Health Coalition at


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Profile 2018


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Steele County Judge Karen Duncan has a bird’s eye view of Jeff Johnson as he addresses a crowd gather for his investiture as a Third District judge March 23. (Daily News file photo)

Johnson rises to Third Judicial District judgeship behind strong Faribault roots



eff Johnson never had trouble knowing what he wanted to do. His decision-making ability has likely helped through the years as an attorney; it will be tested in his new role as a judge for the Third Judicial District.

For as long as Jeff Johnson remembers, he’s wanted to work in law. Johnson has risen through the ranks in his legal career, beginning with a clerkship to private practice and public defending to the judge’s chambers. “I always thought I would enjoy the challenge and the thoughtfulness of it,” Johnson said. Johnson, a Faribault native who graduated from Faribault High School 1985,

has never ventured too far from the community as he embarked in a law career. After attending Gustavus Adolphus College in St. Peter for his undergraduate degree and what was then called William Mitchell College of Law, Johnson returned to Rice County for his clerkship. Johnson’s upbringing in Faribault helped form his work ethic, which has been tested in his first months on the job since Gov. Mark Dayton appointed him


“I realized I’m fortunate and there’s nothing I’ve done to deserve it.” - Jeff Johnson in February for the open Third Judicial District judge opening made available when Northfield’s Tom Neuville retired in January.

Rice County Attorney John Fossum feted his longtime friend and one-time colleague Jeff Johnson during Johnson’s swearing-in ceremony. (Daily News file photo)


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Jeff Johnson was surrounded by his family — daughters, Frankie and Jackie; son, Alex, and wife, Angela, during the swearing in. (Daily News file photo)


Growing up, Johnson worked at the Lavender Inn bussing and waiting tables, and worked at Daikin as he prepared to become the first in his family to attend college. Johnson’s blue-collar background extended to his parents. His mother worked as a waitress and his father served as a postal carrier. An emotional Johnson credited his success to his parents and family during his investiture, as well as his upbringing on Faribault’s North End. “I realized I’m fortunate and there’s

nothing I’ve done to deserve it,” he told a packed Newhall Auditorium. Johnson’s roots in the community brought him back following law school. He clerked for Judge Gerald Wolf, Judge Bernard Borene and Judge William Johnson, which gave him the opportunity to see three approaches to the bench that will likely help him in the new role. It was through that clerkship that he met a Faribault attorney, who launched Johnson’s law career. Johnson later became partner at Schurhammer & Johnson, P.A.

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before beginning his own firm. Johnson’s work extended into public defending, where he later became the Third Judicial District Chief Public Defender. The 11-county district includes: Dodge, Fillmore, Freeborn, Houston, Mower, Olmsted, Rice, Steele, Wabasha, Waseca and Winona counties. “I think I’ve always had an interest in helping people and public defender was one way to help indigent people,” Johnson said. Judge Jodi Williamson, Third District

Chief Judge, who also served as a public defender predicted that experience had prepared him for his role on the bench. “Public defenders know how to deliver bad news with compassion,” she said during his swearing in.

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Profile 2018


Jeff Johnson, chief public defender for the Third Judicial District, answers questions after a July 2016 hearing for Waseca teenager John David LaDue. (Daily News file photo)

Steele-Waseca and Olmsted Treatment Courts, as well as on advisory boards for Rice County Community Corrections and Dual Recovery. He also worked with Minnesota Board of Public Defense Advanced Sentencing Advocacy Program. “I am pleased to appoint Mr. Jeffrey Johnson to serve as district court judge,” Dayton said in a written statement at the time of his announcement. “Mr. Johnson will bring a breadth of public and private sector experience to the bench. I thank Mr. Johnson for his continued service to the people of Minnesota.” Johnson’s interested in better incorporating mental health into the justice system. For Johnson, that means understanding the co-dependencies, including mental health issues, that many who are chemically dependent deal with. He’d also like to devise better processes for those with mental health issues who now have difficulty obtaining services or treatment.

One of Johnson’s highest profile cases was that of Waseca teen, John David LaDue, charged with several counts of premeditated attempted murder based on a plot to murder his family and stage a massacre at his high school. LaDue, who was reported to have been dealing with several different mental health issues, was later convicted of possessing an explosive device, though the attempted murder charges were dismissed based on peculiarities with state law. Though Johnson, and LaDue’s other attorneys worked to get him into treatment, made difficult due to a lack of available beds and limited state resources, LaDue, in an unusual case, ultimately opted not to finish treatment and accept the felony. Rice County Attorney John Fossum wrote a letter of recommendation in support of Johnson for the judgeship. Fossum, who is also has roots in Rice County, has known Johnson for 20 years and appreciates Johnson’s interest in mental

“He won’t be a prosecutor and he won’t be a public defender. He’ll be a judge.” - John Fossum health issues. “It’s great that he’s motivated to work on it and so am I,” said Fossum, who noted their long-standing friendship during Johnson’s investiture that. Many people who experience a mental health crisis find themselves in jail because there simply aren’t enough beds around for them. The state legislature is working on a bill that would provide $80 million for state grant programs to build six mental health crisis centers in the state to serve mentally ill and chemically dependent people. “I think it’s something we all need to continue to work on,” Fossum said. “We


have really limited resources.” The work for Johnson has come swiftly, though he’s had to adjust to a heavy workload. When Johnson began on the bench, there was a backlog of cases. Johnson had 30 regular hearings on the first day, he said. From what Fossum’s seen in the first few months is that the transition from attorney to judge has gone smoothly for Johnson. “I think a lot of lawyers struggle with that ability to change that role and not be an advocate anymore,” Fossum said. “He’s shown he’s been able to fill the role of judge without arguing the case.” That was something Fossum predicted during Johnson’s March 23 swearing in. “He won’t be a prosecutor and he won’t be a public defender,” Fossum said of Johnson. “He’ll be a judge.” ©Copyright 2018 APG Media of Southern Minnesota. All rights reserved.


Profile 2018


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They started as sixth grade writing class rivals, but they will be remembered as storytellers, filmmakers and friends. Logan Ledman, left, and Sam Temple, right, have spent their high school careers telling a story they say needed to be told: the history of Faribault. (Gunnar Olson/Faribault Daily News)

How two teenage boys came to tell Faribault’s story



ina Ledman remembers asking her 14-year-old son, Logan “why?” a lot. Why was it that the boy, raised in Northfield, wanted to make a video series on the history of Faribault? Why would she spend her time driving him to Faribault three or four times a week after school? Why Faribault? Why Faribault’s history? Like many Northfielders, Gina Ledman is well versed in the exciting, legendary history of her hometown, but she noted that was not the case in Faribault.

“The Northfield history is so well known,” she said. “But Faribault has all these cool stories and awesome people, but we don’t know about them. [Logan’s friend, collaborator and Faribault High School student Sam Temple] really wanted to somehow bring back this sense of pride and acknowledgement for the people in the past, current and future. Logan [Ledman] just really wanted to feel a part of something that could be bigger than himself.” It was then that Gina bought into the idea, making those near-daily trips to Faribault worth it for her son. Still, she questioned if this was really what he wanted to do. “I didn’t realize how serious they were about it,” she said of the video series “1855” which chronicles the history of Faribault through its people, places and things. “Of


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course, I was excited for Logan to have something to do, but I didn’t realize the level these guys were going to take it to right off the bat as ninth-graders.” In the summer of 2015, Logan and Sam started working on “1855,” doing exhaustive research online and through the Rice County Historical Society. The first episode featured Alexander Faribault. It debuted in September 2015. When the first video came out, it further illuminated Gina’s understanding of just what her son was doing and why, as she says, “it was all worth it.” “I didn’t expect it to be quite so professional,” she said. “They took so much pride in what they did. This wasn’t just a couple of teenage boys screwing around with a video camera. They put in a lot of effort to make sure this was something that all people would want to see.”

The signs Long before their first video published and before the now well-known duo even knew one another, each of them showed signs of creativity and, in Sam’s case, an affinity for video. “I bet he was 5 or 6 years old when he started making his own little music videos,” said Troy Temple, a videographer himself.

In this August 2015 photo, Sam Temple, left, and Logan Ledman, right, make a series of videos on history around the Faribault and Rice County area. (Daily News file photo)

said his parents, Gina and Todd, inspired him. “My dad is a funny guy and my mom is a charmer,” Logan said. “That combination creates an environment of a love of being a performer and playing a character.” Those tendencies showed themselves early, but his love of storytelling didn’t begin to solidify until around seventh grade, when he participated in a Northfield Middle School program in which he worked with a social studies teacher to write a book about Northfield’s history.


Troy never pushed Sam into video, but when Sam took to it on his own, he and his wife Linda embraced their son’s talent. “Some kids play catch with their dad in the backyard, and we would make


There’s nothing quite as cutthroat as sixth-grade writing. So, it was natural that Logan and Sam, both well-read, intelligent students, developed a rivalry when both attended videos,” said Sam of his early exposure Northfield Middle School. It wasn’t until to film. “So, when it came to telling the eighth grade that rivalry shifted into story of this town, that was the tool of friendship thanks to a common aversion expression I was accustomed to using.” A few miles north, Logan Ledman’s to gym class. parents recognized his love for stories and “You probably can’t tell, but neither of storytelling. A voracious reader, Logan us are super athletes,” joked Logan. “We

Logan Ledman, left, and Sam Temple, shown here in 2017 produced “Peoples of Faribault”, to discuss the unique stories of all the ethnic groups that call Faribault home. (Photo courtesy of Sam Temple)

were in pretty similar situations, there.” Sam nodded in agreement to that claim, with one amendment. “We did make a fantastic badminton team, though,” he said. “It was our shining moment,” added Logan. Whether it was the misery of gym class they bonded over, or the irreplaceable high of badminton success, a the camaraderie turned to friendship. So, when Sam had the idea to tell a video history of Faribault, he called Logan. First they walked around Logan’s hometown of Northfield and then, Sam’s hometown, Faribault. “In those meetings, walking around and talking to each other, he convinced me that it would be a good idea,” Logan recalled. Sam walked Logan through Faribault, pointing out the stories he hoped to someday tell. Logan had the inkling that they were onto something. That summer, they got to work. uuu

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Logan Lehman and Sam Temple’s video series, which has been broadcast on Faribault Community Television, is also available free online at The first piece, detailing the life of the city’s namesake, Alexander Faribault, was released in September 2015. The most recent, depicting the people of Faribault, debuted last year. The next installment, the Faribault Foods MINI episode, features interviews done by Shattuck-St. Mary’s School students.

Ledman and Temple spent months in 2017 conducting research, writing a script, and performing interviews to prepare for filming their newest episode. (Daily News file photo)

70 stories

ing and invigorating that these were the stories we get to tell.” Sam and Logan planned out the next By the end of September, thanks to four years of their lives at Subway. frequent summer and after-school meet Over sandwiches, Sam presented a list ings, the team had completed the Alexanthat Logan remembered was almost 70 der Faribault episode, which depicted the stories long about the city of Faribault, city’s founding father, out. more than a dozen of which have been “Everything has gone much better for produced since summer 2015. us than by any means it should have,” “It was very daunting,” Sam rememSam said. bered. “Normally you’d say, ‘oh, this is Their momentum continued, in part, the next four years of our lives.’ It should because of their passion for the project. have been more daunting, but it was excit “I think we share, on a surface level, a

fascination with stories in general,” Logan said. “Narratives and the construction of stories and the human ability for storytelling and what we can extract from stories.” For Sam, it was also a passionate plea for pride. “Ultimately, what I wanted to do was the concept of making people proud of Faribault,” he said. “If you are going to foster pride in a community, history is a way that will make as much sense and be just as impactful today as it will tomorrow and throughout perpetuity.”

Sam’s proudest of their most recent piece, “Peoples of Faribault.” To complete the video, they interviewed, researched and examined all the different ethnic groups that came to Faribault. “It’s the entire history of the town of Faribault,” said Sam of the all-encompassing ethnic examination. The video was cumulative in its narrative, but it was also cumulative technically. “That episode put to use every skill we had developed over the course of putting it together,” Sam said. Sam and Logan have seen themselves hone many of their filmmaking and storytelling skills in the past three years. “We’ve grown a lot in terms of clarity and historical storytelling,” Sam said. “We made some questionable correlations … to different events in history in the early episodes, but we got a lot better and I don’t think we ever lied or misrepresented anything.” Logan agreed, saying he was “still proud of the work we did,” but adding that “I’m not saying there weren’t changes I would make to all of them.” For Logan, one of the videos that resonates most with him is the episode the team just finished this spring about Burkhartzmeyer’s Shoe Store. “We interviewed the family and pulled a lot of family stories out of that,” he said. “The emotional bits and pieces you get out of that. We were able to tell a story that is engaging, enjoyable and has some




Profile 2018


Building for the Future

Faribault Foods invests in its people and new technologies to fuel growth into the future. Faribault Foods has been a pillar in the Faribault community since the late 1800’s. Started by a small group of local farmers as a sweet corn canner, the company was later acquired and managed by the Vandever/McDonald family for four generations. In 2014, the company was purchased by La Costeña, which has been family owned and operated by the Lopez family for three generations. This long legacy as a family owned company lives on today in the company’s culture, values and vision for the future. The new ownership has ushered in a new era of growth and expansion. Their optimistic plans for the future are embodied by the new manufacturing facility, which opened in the Fall of 2017. The new facility is the most modern canner in the country, with greatly improved work conditions. For example, the internal environment includes better temperature and humidity controls, along with a modern, spacious breakroom and outdoor patio. Faribault Foods recognizes that its most valuable asset is its people, and uniting all of the Faribault-based facilities under one roof enables the company to deliver on its goal to be the best employer in the Faribault area. United under one roof, Faribault Foods strives to create a cohesive, family-like work environment that encourages career advancement and continuous learning. Cross-training adds variety and allows active participation throughout the

process. The company is committed to promoting a culture that emphasizes employee involvement, personal responsibility, supportive management and safety. Faribault Foods looks forward to building a great future together. If you are interested in joining the Faribault Foods team, call us at 507-331-1401, visit us at 3401 Park Ave NW, or learn more at

Faribault Foods has a strong reputation as a trusted supplier of branded, store brand and co-manufactured products. Branded products include S&W® Beans, Sun Vista®, Luck’s®, Kuner’s®, KC Masterpiece® Baked Beans, Mrs. Grimes®, Butter Kernel®, Chilli Man®, Kern’s®, Pride, Finest and Pasta Select.

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Profile 2018


On the team’s YouTube page, viewers eight weeks.” can find blooper reels and parodies of hit In all seriousness, Sam said he hopes shows like “Friends” and “The Office.” to frame his education around his interest Those videos are there, in part, for fun in storytelling, writing, film and theater, and to help promote upcoming events and but said he is also interested in civic duty, videos, too. politics and urban development. Plus, as Logan said, they do have a lot For Logan, his enthusiasm for history of fun while shooting their episodes that has not waned, nor does he expect it to. don’t make the final He hopes to start his cut. college career by “Ultimately, what I “We have fun as studying history and we film,” he said. wanted to do was the see where it takes “We get excited and him. concept of making angry about messing With one more people proud of up. Those moments year left in their of levity are what Faribault. If you are high school careers, we try to show the the “1855” boys going to foster pride audience. It’s somewill keep churning thing we take great in a community, out episodes, still pleasure in doing. history is a way that picking away at that We aren’t doing this daunting list they will make as much for homework or as reviewed together hard labor. It’s a lot sense and be just at the local Subway of fun.” as impactful today almost three years ago. as it will tomorrow Not done yet If the commitand throughout This spring, the ment of the past “1855” crew is Sam Temple and Logan Ledman interview Bruce and Buck Burkhartzmeyer in their perpetuity.” - Sam Temple three years is any piece about Burkhartzmeyer Shoe Store this year. (Photo courtesy of 1855) developing the three indication, there is final episodes of little doubt they will lessons about hard work, persistence and Throughout the process, they’ve tackits current season continue their efforts through their senior being a family. The Burkhartzmeyer story led dense topics. Looking back, Sam says featuring River Bend Nature Center, the year. that the Alexander Faribault episode “was Buckham family whose name graces the has all of that. It’s a story with wholeAs Gina Lehman realized after seeing city library and local woodcarver Ivan some, strong, American values to look at. a little dry” In response, the duo tried to Logan and Sam’s projects come to life It’s one I always return to with a smile on insert some humor into their videos, some Whillock. over and over again, these aren’t a couple This September, the team will also host they think worked and some they say my face.” of teenage boys screwing around with a live show from the Paradise Center for Alexander Faribault, Bruce Smith, Liz didn’t. a video camera. They’re telling the city Instead of inserting humor into the seri- the Arts. “Betty Wall” Strohfus, Bishop Whipple, of Faribault’s story. A story that needs ous videos, the duo produced small videos As 17 year olds and juniors in high Fleckenstein Brewery, Bethlehem Acadschool, both are about to enter the gaunt- telling. emy, the Tilt-a-Whirl, Tedd Nelson, How- on the side that let the laughs fly. let that is questions about their future. Reach Reporter Gunnar Olson at 507-333-3128 or ard Bachrach, Olaf Hanson, the Faribault “If you can make people laugh and When asked about what they plan to do follow him on Twitter @fdnGunnar. entertain people, they will listen to you Woolen Mill and Faribault Foods have after graduating, Sam replied, “I just took longer than if you’re just informative,” all been seen through Sam and Logan’s ©Copyright 2018 APG Media of Southern Minnethe ACT, so I’ll let you know in five to Sam said. lenses. sota. All rights reserved.


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Profile 2018

The Virtues Project • Faribault

The mission of the Virtues Project – Faribault is to promote and encourage the recognition and practice of virtues to enrich the lives of people in our community and to further the cause of unity. Our steering committee is open to everyone interested in employing all practical resources to bring the five strategies of The Virtues Project to everyone in our area. The Mission of The International Virtues Project TM is to inspire the practice of virtues in everyday life by helping people of all cultures to discover the transformative power of these universal gifts of character. …VIRTUES are the essence of who we are. …They are the content of our character and the basis of genuine happiness.

The Virtues Project Steering Committee Members Contact us for more information or to schedule a training: The Virtues Project Faribault Check our website at The International project website: Find us on Facebook: FaribaultVirtuesProject Download an app about Virtues:

Congratulations Cynthia Diessner 2018 Outstanding Citizen of the Year



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• Assertiveness • Caring • Cheerfulness • Cleanliness • Commitment • Compassion • Confidence • Consideration • Cooperation • Courage • Courtesy • Creativity • Detachment • Determination • Diligence • Empathy • Enthusiasm • Excellence • Fairness • Flexibility • Forgiveness • Friendliness • Generosity • Gentleness • Gratitude • Helpfulness • Honesty • Honor • Humanity • Humility • Idealism • Integrity • Joyfulness • Justice • Kindness • Love • Loyalty • Moderation • Modesty • Openness • Optimism • Orderliness • Patience • Peacefulness • Perseverance • Purposefulness • Reliability • Resilience • Respect • Responsibility • Self-Discipline • Service • Tact • Thankfulness • Thoughtfulness • Tolerance • Trust • Trustworthiness • Truthfulness • Understanding • Unity

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Profile 2018




iffany Tripp doesn’t want to be the center of attention. Rather, Tripp often works behind the scenes to accomplish her goals, whether it’s finding a job that lets her travel across the world or bring local products to area residents. She is dedicated, motivated, and modest about her past experiences. But it took Tripp time to develop her particular expertise linking agriculture and marketing. Now, she’s found her happy place back in the town where she started.

Faribault resident to international traveler

Tiffany Tripp with Clem, the goat, at Graise Farm in October 2016. (Photo courtesy of Tiffany Tripp)

Farming and business savvy bring

Tiffany Tripp home

Tripp grew up on her family’s farm and graduated from Faribault High School in 1992. Like many graduates, she faced a choice of staying near home or continuing her education elsewhere, deciding to pursue a passion for Spanish and culture at University of Wisconsin-Madison. But she didn’t expect an element of agriculture that crept into her studies. “I knew I wanted to study Spanish early on, but I didn’t invest into the agricultural school until friends and relatives sucked me back into the lifestyle,” Tripp said. “I ended up with a [bachelor’s] for Spanish and agricultural economics.”


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Although the two fields sound like complete opposites, Tripp found a way to incorporate the skill sets into her career and her everyday life. Her Spanish became especially handy while studying abroad for a year and half in Madrid, Spain, before graduating in 1998. “I fell in love with the city, the culture and the lifestyle,” she said. “I didn’t want to leave.” Instead, Tripp graduated from UWMadison and moved to the Canary Islands, just off the coast of Spain, with her then husband. Although she enjoyed the Spanish culture, the island lifestyle wasn’t for her. Tripp returned to Minnesota in 2000 to begin a position at Mate Precision Tooling as a customer service representative where she worked with English- and Spanish-speaking clients. This position was only the beginning of her climb up the corporate ladder. When she was promoted to marketing specialist for Mexico and Latin America in 2006, Tripp was able to fully utilize her marketing and Spanish expertise. She


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Graise Farm in Faribault is co-operated by Tiffany Tripp and Andy Olson where their animals have room to run, root, play, dig up insects and graze, or eat grass. (Photo courtesy of Tiffany Tripp)

Initiative Zeal even described it as “her dream job” for her post-college career. She traveled and learned Portuguese to communicate with clients in Brazil, but the company focused on sheet metal, which wasn’t her passion. “It took me 10 years to find a job where I was traveling internationally and using all my skills,” Tripp said. “But I was starting to wonder ‘where do I go next?’” From 2008-10, Tripp went from marketing specialist to business development specialist to Latin American sales manager. Her dedication and motivation spoke for itself as she worked her way



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up through the ranks. During this time, she split from her husband and decided to relocate — either into the country or downtown Minneapolis. In December 2011, she moved back to her parents’ farm to reconnect with nature and save money. Tripp’s father retired from farming in 1999, and her parents often traveled south for the winter, so the move made sense for them, too. It seemed like a great moment to head back to the farm, with her parents down south and her 20th high school reunion quickly approaching. Tripp helped her good friend

and former class president prepare for the reunion, coming up in 2012. Who knew that the reunion would change the trajectory of Tripp’s career entirely?

International traveler to entrepreneur At her 20th reunion, Tripp connected with former classmate Andy Olson. Neither of them ran in the same social circles uuu

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career into your home? It was a simple, yet powerful statement,” she said. She realized she wasn’t taking the time to put energy into life outside her job. Tripp wanted to connect more to the community of Faribault as it is today versus what it was during her childhood. In 2014, Tripp and Olson decided to start Graise Farm. At first, the goal was solely to feed their family with a few chickens and a few hogs. Over time, the couple had too many eggs and more meat than they could consume so they reached out to friends and relatives asking it they were interested in purchasing some of the excess. “I just sent out emails to everyone I knew asking if they wanted a portion of our pigs, and I had no shame doing so because it was exactly what I learned in my marketing courses,” Tripp said. “Then we realized we sold more than we expected and bought a pig for ourselves from a local farmer.” This would lead to their first collaboration with Just Food Co-op in Northfield and the Faribault Farmers Market in 2016. She said they would often bring chicken and duck eggs, so they could educate residents about the benefits of both types of eggs. Tripp stayed at Mate Precision Tooling as a sales manager until early 2016 and then started a similar position at a new company, but quickly realized it wasn’t what she wanted. By that November, she was splitting her time between local projects and Graise Farms. Tripp now works as a part-time Spanish interpreter along with her other commitments, and she is happier than ever.

chickens and pigs. Tripp and Olson take pride that they raise animals humanely in a sustainable environment and use local resources for their food. Tripp has also taken a leadership role in SFA as treasurer and board delegate. To Zeman, it made perfect sense for Tripp to take the position due to her business background and passion for local foods. “She leads by example. She is always bringing new ideas to the table while making sure all the members are in the loop,” Zeman said. “She makes sure everyone is working together as a team, and I really appreciate that.” But Zeman also appreciates Tripp for her compassion, understanding and serTiffany Tripp chats with some customers at Faribault Winter Farmers Market in Decemvice to the community. ber 2016. Tripp was the primary organizer of the winter version of the market in town. “Tiffany is always keeping us going in (Daily News file photo) the same direction, and we wouldn’t be where we are without her help,” she said. “She’s the real deal.” Along with her work for SFA, Tripp established and works annually for Faribault’s Winter Farmers Market where vendors from the cities to Faribault sell goods during the off-season. Nort Johnson, president of Faribault’s Chamber of Commerce, said Tripp is easy to work with and committed to all her projects. “She has a vision that requires hard work to fulfill and she is always making it work,” he said. The market has received extremely positive feedback and expanded its second year. Johnson credits Kristen Twitchell, at the Paradise Center for the Arts, and Tripp for creating a unique opportunity for local vendors. “Vendors were typically surprised Graise Farm offers fresh duck and chicken eggs locally at the farm and Ruf Acres Market and Hy-Vee in Faribault, and at Just Food Coop in Northfield. The eggs are by the amount of residents visiting the available at area farmers markets as well. market, and I know Tiffany is the reason Entrepreneur to behind that,” he said. “We, at the Chamduring high school, but there was a strong connection with Olson made her realize community leader ber appreciate everything she offers to the connection that night. “there is more to life than just working.” business community in Faribault.” Tripp helps organizations, such as the They started dating a month later, and During their first few years together, While Tripp is always working on the Sustainable Farming Association of MinTripp described it as “true love and fast Tripp continued her career-oriented next new project or helping with another nesota, a group introduced to Tripp by love.” Olson was the right partner for lifestyle where she worked and travFaribault organization, her ultimate goal friend and resident Kathy Zeman. Tripp Tripp, especially because of his support eled a majority of her time. This kept is to make the farm her, or Olson’s, fulland Olson initially took classes with the for her career. her away from Olson and a home that time job. organization to learn the basics of farming “I was on the career path where you are she was growing fonder of. When a vice and how to run a farm in a humane, ethi- “It would be great to see 50 percent of promoted every few years, and if you are president’s position opened at Tripp’s our income come from the farm … Otherconstantly moving, you’re doing it right,” company, her boss asked her to apply. She cal way. wise, we want to grow our numbers while she said. “They want you to keep on doknew she could take on the job and be one “It made you think about the food being more efficient,” Tripp said. “And you’re eating and the treatment of those ing better and doing more.” of the first women in that position. But, we want to continue that constant contact animals,” she said. But meeting Olson changed her life. she wondered, did she want to? with the community and our customers.” Now, Graise Farms provides local Tripp said there were moments when she “I thought about it for 24 hours, and didn’t believe in true love or was afraid during that time, [Olson] said ‘Why don’t foods to the Faribault and Minneapolis Kelsey O’Hara is a freelance reporter based in the to let someone come into her life, but her you put some of that energy from your metro. area while farming animals like ducks,



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Erin, left, and Gordon Liu sit in the Faribault Diversity Coalition offices on Central Avenue. The duo, who met thorugh their work with AmeriCorps, have devoted their careers to service. (Gunnar Olson/Faribault Daily News)

Gordon Liu is positioned to meld Faribault’s diverse communities



quipped with his recent lessons plans from his eighth-grade civics teacher, Gordon Liu taught his first citizenship class to his parents even before his first day of high school. Born in Beijing, China, his Chinese mother and father moved to upstate New York when Liu was just 9 months old. His dad, an academic, moved the family to Troy, New York, so he could pursue his Ph.D. in chemistry from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute.

At age 5, Liu’s family moved to Woodbury, giving him his first taste of the Midwest, so his parents could work at 3M. From there, Liu made stops at Duke University in Durham, North Carolina, and in Maine. Last year, Liu and his wife Erin returned to Minnesota where he now serves as the executive director of the Faribault Diversity Coalition. Just like he did when he was an eighthgrader, but now armed with his academic and service educations, Liu teaches a weekly citizenship class for Faribault’s burgeoning immigrant community, helping them learn English, pass their citizenship tests and generally become

accustomed to the way things work in Faribault and the United States. Since taking over at the Diversity Coalition in November, Liu has embraced working in and for the community. While he knows residents of all backgrounds across the city have anxieties about its shifting demographics and their effects on the economy and culture of Faribault, his optimism for the city is contagious. He loves the “little, small, really cool businesses popping up all the time,” near the Diversity Coalition offices downtown on Central Avenue. He is a particular fan of Bluebird Cakery, where he volunteers to tutor high school students twice a week.

He is drawn to small towns because of the “resilience and community bonds” he finds there, a feeling he first came to understand working in Maine. “Sometimes, rural areas get left behind in federal funding, so money may not flow down quite as far into smaller communities,” he said. “Still, it seems like they usually find their own way.” Without an excess of funding, Liu has dedicated his efforts to helping make the Diversity Coalition sustainable. “Grant cycles are a little fickle,” he says of the way the organization currently receives much of its funding. “So we want to find some ways where the FDC



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program, where students made tabletop catapults to learn about engineering and medieval history. “In general, it was to help support what kids are already learning in school,” he said. “To show them these topics are fun, engaging and hands-on.” At AmeriCorps, the stipend is low. Most AmeriCorps workers are eligible for food stamps and other resources. But instead of going through the food stamps program, Liu took a position at a Borders book store, working part time, but often late at night. The compensation was low and his hours were long in this life he carved out for himself in Maine, but looking back, Liu knows the experience was invaluable. “Where college gave me a lot of academic, theoretical skills, AmeriCorps gave me the tangible skills,” he said. “A big part of where I was working, they are lowresource organizations. It made me think creatively with very little funding and Gordon Liu, the Faribault Diversity Coalition director, was hired to run organization in November. (Gunnar Olson/Faribault Daily News) sometimes no equipment. You learn to do very cool things without all the necessary can really hold its own with some earned “For businesses, you are talking about more year when a lightbulb went off in his resources.” During his second year with Amerirevenue, public events and looking into the economic value of diversity,” he said. head, changing the trajectory of his life. Corps, Liu started consulting for the Cendonations and sponsorships from people “Diverse workers fill employment short He was conducting overnight research ter for Ecological Living and Learning, or who want to support diversity and the ages. You can look at the level of diversity in a lab for an orgo-metallic catalysis lab, CELL, a small nonprofit on the mid-coast FDC.” in startups and the technology industry running time points where measurements of Maine. He helped CELL with its social are taken over an extended period of time. Most importantly, Liu understands that across the county. Diversity plays a huge media and marketing, eventually leadthere is fear out there. Faribault’s Somali role in innovation and new, novel ideas.” “I realized then and there that being on ing to a full-time position as a marketing population has changed the way the city Diversity isn’t just an economic asset, my own in a lab in the middle of the night and communications manager when he looks. Some of the new, diverse people says Liu. doing kinetic studies isn’t really what I finished with AmeriCorps. coming to the city — and the predomi “For most of us, we are celebratwanted to be doing,” Liu said, of why he nantly white population who have long ing diversity through culture,” he said. re-focused his education entirely on devel- It was then that Hourglass Consulting Co., Liu’s consulting business, was born. made Faribault home — have reservations “Through art and through food, I think it’s opmental psychology. about how the cultures can meld, but Liu getting people to recognize the level of He wouldn’t trade the physical sciences Most of his clients are still in Maine, but the Faribault Diversity Coalition is his knows that when Faribault surmounts diversity that is already in our lives that experience for anything and is proud largest current client. those challenges, it will be well-positioned we take for granted.” of the paper he co-authored, but he was His career in service inspired him to for the future. Most importantly, Liu wanted to make drawn to education. Cognitive, developinspire the same in others through the “We see diversity as an asset, which certain that diverse populations, opinions mental and social psychology became his Franklin Project, an Aspen Institute initiacan sometimes get lost in some fear of the and ideas don’t come at the expense of preoccupation on his journey to learn how tive promoting a year of service for every unknown and fear of change,” he said. Faribault’s cherished history, which is children think, grow and work with each American. Liu became an ambassador for “Part of what we want to do is showcase notable for its embrace of diverse popula- other. the program. how diversity really is an asset and find tions like Native Americans who were It was during his undergraduate studies ways individuals and businesses can build ostracized and slaughtered by other com- that Liu first volunteered for AmeriCorps “The idea is to instill a cultural expectation for a year of service,” he said. “It’s on those assets.” munities. in Minnesota, the domestic version of Liu noted that other, similar communi- “Diversity doesn’t have to displace the more widely known Peace Corps. So, like looking at civilian service program as ties don’t have the diversity Faribault anything,” Liu said. “It just allows us to when he graduated from Duke, he packed the other side of the coin to military service. We sought to instill in young adults does, which provides some short-term integrate new things.” everything he had in a U-Haul and drove stability, but ultimately makes them averto Maine where he served two more years the value and ethic of a service year.” For Liu, the idea was to change the age. in the full-time, year-long service proA career in service question from “Where’d you go to col Still, he knows Faribault is in for a gram. When Liu stepped onto the campus of lege?” to “Where did you serve your year “long process” in which “small strides” He designed after-school programs for Duke University, the fresh-faced Minneof service?” will have to be taken in order to find the youth in Rockland, Maine, implement If the military is a good fit, that would perfect balance. He is confident, however, sota kid with Chinese-immigrant parents ing the Zombie Survival Camp aimed at plunged into a grueling biology, chemistry of course count toward a year of service, teaching kids wilderness survival, map that he can make the case to all Faribault and psychology triple major. but for people with non-physical or more reading and first aid skills in a fun way. people that diversity is the best and only It was a lonely night during his sophocivilian-focused skills, a year of service He also created the Storm the Castle way.



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could be a great benefit to the country and to the individuals in the program. “How do we take modern skills like writing, marketing, technology and media editing and build on those skills in a year of service?” he asked.

Finding Faribault Liu co-founded an alumni chapter of AmeriCorps when he was still working in Maine. To kick off the chapter, he organized a breakfast to bring everyone together. “He and I were the only two who showed up that morning,” recalls Erin about when she and Gordon met. “We drank lots of coffee, sat and chatted for a while.” That fateful morning blossomed into a partnership and marriage that eventually led them back to the Midwest. Erin, an Appleton, Wisconsin, native, had an affinity for the area. Gordon, whose parents had a home in Morristown, thought Faribault would be an easy place to land. The duo was walking through the Buckham Memorial Library one day when they spotted a sign asking for volunteer tutors. It turns out, it was a Faribault Diversity Coalition program, headed then by Executive Director Carolyn Treadway. They called Treadway and asked how they could help and she knew right away the Lius could really make a difference in Faribault. “Both of the Lius have an uncommon ability to understand the needs of Faribault’s newcomers while keeping those of the entire community at the forefront,” Treadway said. Treadway was thrilled when, in November 2017, the Lius signed on to take over the Diversity Coalition, build out its curriculum and put it on the path to sustainability. Now, Gordon Liu focuses primarily on the Coalition while Erin works on the 2,000 Hours, their consulting business’s nonprofit arm. For Erin, who also works as a ShattuckSt. Mary’s School nurse on the side, the importance of service was with her as a child. “It’s something I grew up with,” she said. “From a very young age, I would go help at a food pantry and soup kitchen with my grandfather. Some of the earliest memories I have are filling salt and pepper shakers. Service has always been

Keynote speakers at the January Martin Luther King Day breakfast, organized by Gordon Liu, were seniors at area high schools. They are, front, from left, Kathleen Wendt, Desirae Brooks and Tufah Abdulahi. Back, Tony Huerta-Apanco, Yazzy Braden, Rosemary Martinez and Dee Stemmene. (Daily News file photo)

an important part of our life. It’s really important for those of us who can to find ways to give back to our community.” As a team, the Lius are a well-oiled machine, although they would be the first to admit that they have different skill sets. “He has an analytical mind,” said Erin of Gordon. “We say, if you have problem you want a solution for, go to Gordon. If you just want to vent, come to me.” Gordon Liu put it slightly differently, saying, “The big difference between Erin and I are she is in this to help people. She’s the empathetic, caring one. I like the projects and big solutions.”

sees Liu often when he is tutoring other students. She has also taken advantage of Liu’s time there, having him help her work through the ins and outs of trigonometry. “The tutoring he does is on his own time and he has never missed one day,” Braden said. “I’ve noticed quite recently that there are more students than ever showing up on Tuesday and Thursdays.” Due in part to her curiosity, but also Liu’s generosity, Braden has learned more from the FDC chief as the organization has gone through its recent re-branding. “He taught me a lot about marketing and important business concepts that have helped me narrow down a career choice for myself,” Braden said, saying Liu also helped Braden find scholarships. Braden has seen Liu host the Martin Luther King Jr. Day breakfast and founded a youth club through the FDC, where the members volunteered time to put on a Cinco de Mayo celebration. Treadway is not surprised to see Liu

Respect An immediate impact Liu made sure to note that the city of Faribault has a long journey ahead, but in just months, he’s already made an impact. “He is a role model I look up to and he is a great friend who has been through many different adventures with me,” said Faribault student Yasmin Braden. Braden, a Bluebird Cakery employee,

making such a immediate impact in the community, though. “Gordon has an excellent working knowledge of how to impact change in a community as a result of his previous work in nonprofits on the east coast,” she said. “He has in-depth technology expertise and has kept abreast of creative initiatives that can enhance community life.” His service-oriented path hasn’t earned him the big bucks or widespread notoriety, but what is undeniable are the positive effects of his efforts on the communities he has worked in. If his goals and dreams for Faribault come to fruition, the city will be far better off. “Faribault is lucky,” said Treadway of the Lius, “to have such an engaged and motivated young couple working on our behalf.” Reach Reporter Gunnar Olson at 507-333-3128 or follow him on Twitter @fdnGunnar. ©Copyright 2018 APG Media of Southern Minnesota. All rights reserved.

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Students are eager to pose for a photo with Jefferson Principal Yesica Louis when she comes outside for recess. (Misty Schwab/Faribault Daily News)

Jefferson principal knows where her students have been.




hen Yesica Louis enters a classroom, it only takes a moment before students flock to her with hugs and warm welcomes. “I just feel like this is where I’m supposed to be,” said Louis. “I work with the most amazing staff and great students. This is exactly what I should be doing with my life.” It hasn’t been a full academic year since Louis began her position as Jefferson Elementary School principal, but her investment in the school is evident to her staff and students, bringing a sense of security in a school with a high

turnover history. During her interview for the principal position, Louis assured the committee she isn’t going anywhere. “We love Yesica,” said Julie Eul, Jefferson Elementary secretary. “She’s been a great, positive addition to our building.” Added Jefferson fifth-grade teacher Michele Linse: “It feels good to know your principal is your biggest supporter.”

Where it all began Jefferson Elementary isn’t foreign territory to Louis, who first set foot in the building as a kindergarten student in 1982. Louis remembers being the only Latino child in her classroom and the only non-English speaking student. “My family was one of the first Hispanic families in Faribault,” said Louis.

Second Language program when Louis attended elementary school, she worked one on one with teachers and learned English by engaging with her peers and constantly reading. Louis said she spoke English as a first grader and considered herself fluent by third grade. “Throughout (kindergarten through 12, I had some amazing teachers who cheered me on,” said Louis. “Between my teachers and my parents, I am where I’m at.” Reflecting on her middle school and high school years, Louis said she “enjoyed every single minute.” Just as the high school won Louis’ favor, the school seemed to return the affection when she was the first Latino to be named FaribYesica Louis takes time to visit with Jefferson Elementary students on the playground. (Misty Schwab/Faribault Daily News) ault High School homecoming queen. “I graduated with Yesica in ‘95 and Born in New Mexico, Louis’s family didn’t deter Louis from pushing herself in she was awesome back then,” said former moved to Faribault when she was only 6 her classes. She developed a perseverance classmate Stacey Jensen. “She’s always months old. With no memories of living that carried her through her entire educa- been kind and caring, and always has a anywhere before Faribault, so Louis tells tion. It’s a quality that’s helped Louis smile that will brighten anyone’s day.” people she was born here. Although she arrive at the position she has today. kept her Hispanic roots to herself, she said “I pride myself on hard work and Back to Faribault the community was kind and welcoming. determination,” said Louis. “I consider After high school, Yesica attended “I knew I was different, but at the time myself a lifelong learner.” St. Cloud State University and majored I didn’t know why,” said Louis. Because the Faribault School District Being a non-English speaking student hadn’t yet implemented the English as a in Spanish (non-teaching) with a minor



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in human relations. The degree brought Louis back to Faribault in where she took a position as an ESL paraprofessional in January 2001. Since Louis was never an ESL student herself, she didn’t initially know what the program entailed. However, because she understood how it felt to learn English as a second language, she easily connected with her students. Returning to Faribault after five years at college, Louis was overjoyed to see how many Latinos and other minorities had moved to Faribault in the interim. “I honestly didn’t believe I would move back, but I realized there are so many cool things I can do in this community, and I felt like I was needed here,” said Louis. Working under Randa Paschke, now a teacher at Jefferson, Louis felt inspired to further her education by taking evening classes at Minnesota State University, Mankato. With her master’s, Louis began teaching ESL at Lincoln Elementary in 2002. “I love the middle school, but when I went to elementary it was a good fit,”

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Yesica Louis, Jefferson Elementary School principal, remembers sitting in the same classroom where she’s pictured as a kindergarten student in 1982. (Misty Schwab/Faribault Daily News)

“After talking with her about transitioning my son into a new school, you can tell she loves the kids and making them feel safe and welcomed,” said Paul. Louis’ magnetic presence draws students to her the minute she enters a classroom. (Misty Schwab/Faribault Daily News)

catapulted me into this position [at Jefferson],” said Louis. “That job made me ready for this.”

Making an impact

It’s a common practice for principal Yesica Louis to play football with her students during recess at Jefferson. (Misty Schwab/Faribault Daily News)

As the principal of Jefferson, Louis wanders the halls and classrooms more often than she sits in her office. Being visible to students and staff is a priority for Louis, who spends most of her time at Jefferson in general Monday through Friday. “I’m able to talk to [the principal] in Spanish for the first time ever,” said Dora Mata. “Our families are very happy to have her here. It’s nice to see she can work with everybody, not just the kids.” Added Somali liaison Bashir Omar: “She’s a true leader and has really inspired me. She’s someone I look up to, and I want to reach her goals.” Jake Hager, who teaches social studies at the Alternative Learning Center, said Louis inspired him as well. Thanks to her encouragement, Hager has decided to take classes to earn his administration license. Parents are also pleased with Louis’ role at Jefferson, including Kelly Paul.

Beyond school When she’s not in school, Louis said her life is all about her family. She’s married to Ned Louis, head football coach and phy-ed teacher at Faribault High School, and the two of them have a set of 8-year-old twins, Mac and Viv. Her children attend Lincoln Elementary, so she can keep her roles as principal and mother separate. Louis’ other notable family members include her dad, Juan Porras, who helped teach her to remain positive. Porras’ wife, Kathy, who Louis calls Mom, helped immerse Louis into the American culture when she was growing up. Louis is also close with her biological mother, Rosa, who lives in Colorado. Her only brother, Seth, is a police officer in North Minneapolis and is what Louis calls “another success story.” “You can do and be whatever you want,” said Louis. “If you want to be principal, you can do that with hard work and determination. Nothing can hold you back, and language is definitely not a barrier.”


said Louis. “[Bilingual] kids now have so much more support. We’re so fortunate to have bilingual staff meeting all the children’s needs. Now they have a sense of belonging. They fit in.” During her 11 years at Lincoln Elementary, Louis worked with Somali and Asian students in addition to Hispanic students. Because the curriculum involves visual aids and modeling strategies, Louis said she didn’t need to speak students’ languages fluently to help them learn

English. Following her experience at Lincoln, Louis took a position as an adult education coordinator for the Faribault School District. During her four years with that program, she obtained her administrative license for K through 12 education through an online program offered through Minnesota State University Moorhead. “I wore many hats, and because of that experience [with adult education] it

Reporter Misty Schwab can be reached at 507-7442551. Follow her on Twitter @APGmisty. ©Copyright 2018 APG Media of Southern Minnesota. All rights reserved.


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Sarah Murray, one of the coaches of the combined Koreas team answers a reporter’s question after the practice match between the combined Koreas team and Sweden prior to the 2018 Winter Olympics in Incheon, South Korea. (AP Photo/Lee Jin-man)

Sarah Murray A


cuts coaching teeth in Korea

Canadian-American training to play in Switzerland after playing in China was summoned to coach in South Korea. Faribault native and ShattuckSt. Mary’s School alumna, Sarah Murray, has traveled far and wide since her days as a Sabres hockey player. And that’s all just in the last half decade. Murray, 30, has lived, eaten and breathed hockey all her life. Growing up as the daughter

of Andy Murray — former NHL head coach, ex-SSM coach and currently Western Michigan University skipper, Sarah Murray had an inside look at what top-shelf hockey is all about. Perhaps by osmosis, or more likely pure talent, Murray grew into a skilled player. The defenseman Murray won two national titles with SSM and two more NCAA titles as a leader for the University of Minnesota, Duluth. Murray parlayed her amateur success into a professional career in China as well as Switzerland, which was a stop in Andy Murray’s lengthy coaching career in the 1990s. uuu

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The South Korean women’s hockey team head coach Sarah Murray, center, salutes during the February inaugural ceremony for the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics. (AP Photo/ Ahn Young-joon)


with the Pittsburgh Penguins who beat Murray’s Minnesota North Stars in 1991. That didn’t keep them from becoming friendly. ‘I got to know him over the years, he had just taken over the Korean program and wasn’t happy with the direction of the women’s team,” Andy Murray said. “They had a male Canadian coach and (Paek) A turn of events wanted to change the direction there and Andy Murray ran into the Korean direc- asked me of coaching candidates.” A familiar name came to mind. tor of Hockey, Jim Paek, at a wedding. Paek was a two-time Stanley Cup winner “He kind of just said, ‘You’re going to

Come 2014, the 2010 UMD graduate Murray was hoping to squeeze out some more years of her playing career. She studied education in college and seemed an inevitable fit to someday lead her own team of players. It just came a lot sooner than expected.

“I always felt like she saw the game in a very cerebral way. While it surprises me that she’s coaching Korea, it doesn’t surprise me that she has an interest in coaching.” - Gordie Stafford, SSM pre coach interview for the Korean women’s hockey job,” Sarah Murray laughed, recalling her dad’s statement. Without coaching experience or a lick of proficiency in the Korean language,

Murray took a break from her training regimen to interview. That break turned permanent. “I always felt like she saw the game in a very cerebral way,” said SSM girls


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Korean national team head coach Sarah Murray talks to her team in a 2015 exhibition game at Murray’s alma mater, Shattuck-St. Mary’s. (Daily News file photo)

prep coach Gordie Stafford in 2015, who coached Murray when she was a Sabre. “While it surprises me that she’s coaching Korea, it doesn’t surprise me that she has an interest in coaching.”

Andy Murray credited his daughter’s ability to speak on even terms with his Western Michigan staff or among the sport’s best coaches while attending the American Hockey Coaches Association

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The joint Korean women’s ice hockey team head coach Sarah Murray watches her players train prior to the 2018 Winter Olympics in Gangneung, South Korea in February. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)

females. Most of Murray’s minuscule talent pool was composed of under-20 players who maybe began playing after age 12. Finding enough capable bodies to fill the team wasn’t a sure shot. Cold calls and emails were sent to raise awareness of the team and attract prospective athletes to try out. “We only cut one player,” Murray marveled. A host bid in the 2018 Pyeongchang Olympics was assured when Murray took over in 2014, but the onus was on to lay down a foundation from which the program could grow. Murray instilled a fast-paced style of play. Multi-practice days weren’t uncommon for an eager, if

inexperienced group. A team destined for the Olympics could have been mistaken for a developing high school bunch in the States. Big losses piled up in the early going, but results were on a slight uptick. South Korea took third place at a lower level at the World Women’s Ice Hockey Championship, Division IIA, in 2015. The team jumped to second place in 2016 and took first in 2017. The team frequently made trips to North America to take on prep and collegiate competition. SSM’s facilities often served as a training ground for Murray’s bunch with an exhibition game with the Sabres’ U19 team culminating each trip.

SSM dominated in 2015, 2016 and in the fall of 2017. For a change, the Sabres lighting the lamp wasn’t so joyous for Murray. Albeit against a reduced SSM roster, the South Koreans earned a 4-3 overtime win against the Sabres in January 2018. The team recruited Korean-North American players to join in the run-up to the Olympics. One was SSM product Grace Lee. The Denver, Colorado, native took a gap year in 2017-18 to play full time with the South Koreans after once competing against them as a Sabre. Lee added depth to the team at forward and as another makeshift translator. “She can understand Korean fluently,”

Murray said, “but she can’t really speak it so it was a lot of one-way communication.” By this point, though, Murray had learned to communicate with the team the way she needed. She even had another SSM connection on the team to back her. Rebecca Baker, a 2009 SSM grad and former Wisconsin Badger, is the program’s goaltenders coach. Murray lauded Baker for keeping her honest while also reassuring her when she questioned her own tactics. A unique, uncertain situation going in was coming together about as well as it could for Murray. The team was ranked in the world top 25 as the Olympics neared.



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But the ever-adaptable Murray had to contort one more time before her team’s moment in the sun arrived.

Forging a bond In January 2018, the North and Korean South Korean governments agreed to field a joint women’s hockey team. Some South Koreans who spent years dedicated to the program were spared in favor of the newcomers. Political and ideological tensions inevitably flared. The men’s hockey team wasn’t integrated, prompting the question why the women were used in what appeared to be a political gesture. Murray and her team were hesitant for a wide variety of reasons, one simply being the differing styles of play between the finesse-based South and the strength of the North. “We play a more fast-paced style where (North Korea) plays a more powerful style,� Murray said. “They’re more willing to get in front of the net and block shots.� In just over a month, the team put aside its multitude of differences. Murray saw hope for the team’s chemistry in the unified team’s get-to-know you meeting. “They were all a little shy and nervous,� Murray recalled, “but once they got to know each other they learned they’re just hockey players, too.� Murray strove to treat both sets of players equally, a mindset that permeated the team. A team lunch, for example, resembled a group of friends as opposed to a clique mentality. Media attention flocked to her team after the unification though a busy training schedule helped shield her and the team from becoming too overexposed. On the media circuit, Murray’s focus

Sarah Murray behind the bench with her team during a training camp in Minnesota, 2016. (Adam J.S. Holt / Faribult Daily News)

steered either toward the game itself or to the team’s interpersonal dynamics as opposed to opening any sort of political can of worms. Her composure on the international stage emitted the look of someone who had decades more experience. Murray recalled the powerful moment of the team walking out together at the Olympics opening ceremonies under the unified flag. Even with the added attention, the Koreans were going to be highly outmatched against their predominately European and


North American counterparts. Murray’s bunch was outscored 28-2 and posted an 0-5 record. That first goal, though, will live on in infamy. Tears of joy filled the Pyeongchang ice arena when Korea cut the score to 2-1 against Japan in a preliminary game.

But what happened months after the unified team took the ice will be memorable than any slap shot or line change. In April, peace agreements began to form between North and South Korea to work toward a more unified peninsula. Murray downplayed the diplomatic uuu



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Page 48


Profile 2018


role her team did or did not play, pointing to her team’s unification and chemistry serving as an example of what unification could look like on a larger scale. The Korean hockey program is broadening its scale, too. A hope has formed for the future where a bid to the Olympics or to the elite levels of the World Championships must be earned, and not given. Murray stuck with the team to coach at April’s IIHF Women’s World Championships in Italy. The 2017 win earned Korea

a bump up to Division IB. Her team handled the rise in competition well, taking second place in the division and 17th place overall. Both were program bests. Murray’s hopeful that this is just one of many more steps to come. She plans to add a U18 team to the program, which would provide a much-needed talent pipeline and reduce the over reliance on young talent for the national team. “We’re still a very young team,” Murray reminded.

back to Korea is something that’s there for her. They want her back, as do some other countries.” Given her past, as well as her potential, anything is on the table. The world’s truly at her fingertips.

Now back in the states and out of her apartment in Korea, Murray hasn’t ruled out continuing with the Korean team. By the same token, her newfound recognition has drawn attention from other nations and American colleges looking to fill vacancies. “They certainly want her back,” Andy Murray said of the South Korean team. “We’d love to see her back over here, too. She’s got to do what she’s got to do, but she’s looking at different options. Going

Reach Sports Reporter Mike Randleman at 507-3333119 or follow him on Twitter @fdnmike. ©Copyright 2018 APG Media of Southern Minnesota. All rights reserved.




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Profile 2018  
Profile 2018