Maybe they thought it was a way to give back for their years at Princeton High School. Maybe they wanted to honor the senior class at Princeton High School in light of all the things that class has missed because of the coronavirus issue.
Whatever the reason, three graduates of Princeton High School played a big part last week in getting the Princeton school district to participate in a statewide program called Be The Light Minnesota, an idea hatched by the Minnesota State High School League in early April to show unity for high school athletes who have had their seasons delayed or possibly canceled.
There were at least 280 schools across the state that participated in turning on lights at athletic facilities around the state, the Princeton and Milaca school districts declining to participate.
So on Wednesday of last week Kim (Skarohlid) Young and Jody (Paulson) Stay, both from the PHS Class of 1988, had a conversation during which they felt something could be done in Princeton. Later that day Stay placed a call to one of the people associated with running Solheim Veterans Field, the beautiful Princeton baseball field that celebrated its 50th anniversary last summer. That person told Stay he would contact Troy Kinney, a Class of 1991 grad who has been both the high school and Legion baseball coach for Princeton. Kinney immediately said he would help with the lights. A decision was made to do it two nights later on Friday, April 10, at 9 p.m. The plan included putting the numerals 2020 on the scoreboard in honor of the Class of 2020.
Young, the executive director of the Princeton Chamber of Commerce, made a call the next morning to Ben Barton, Princeton's superintendent of schools, and he said he'd like to have the district participate but wanted to delay it until Monday, April 20. Young talked with Stay, who runs the Pizza Barn in Princeton, Stay then talked with the person from the baseball field, and a plan was put in place to turn the lights on for 20 minutes and 20 seconds on Monday, April 20.
The high school baseball team plays at Solheim Veterans Field, the football team, soccer teams and track teams all make use of the high school football field and track, and the PHS softball team plays at the softball complex in Mark Park. It appears those lights may be going on also next Monday night.
The web site of the high school league said the idea was to honor the students, teachers, coaches and families affected by the shutdown of schools because of the coronavirus situation. That's the case here also. But both Stay and Young said that people on the front lines such as first responders, health care workers, firefighters and police should also be remembered Monday night as people drive by the various places where the lights are on, without congregating. And, in a late development this Friday afternoon, Fairview Northland Hospital has given the go-ahead to turn lights on at its entire facility for 20 minutes on Monday.
Stay plans to post a video Saturday on the Pizza Barn site that will give information about the Monday night lights. There is also a video on You Tube, produced by the high school league and narrated by Minnesota Twins broadcaster Dick Bremer, that talks about the program and includes some good pictures of fields, with lights on, from around the state. It's worth watching. As the video ends Bremer had this to say: "Never fear the darkness. We're in this together."
I'm sure there are some who might ask, "What good will all of this do?"
I look at it as a show of support for the students, especially the seniors, and those on the front lines. The students are going though a year without spring concerts, without a prom, without the athletics that are a big part of some lives, without the spring fling at the high school, and likely without a graduation ceremony and all-night grad party that other classes have had. By turning on the lights Monday all we're doing is saying, "We feel your pain. And we support you."
Hope you drive by Monday night.
PRINCETON SPORTS MEMORIES
April 22, 1965 - It was announced that the Rum River Golf Club would open May 1, regardless of the weather.
April 22, 1970 - Bob Soule pitched six innings in a season-opening 14-0 win over Spring Lake Park . . . The track team placed third in the 17-team Huskie Relays at Albany as Chet Stevenson broke the field's shot put record set the previous year by Lee Steinbrecher.
April 23, 1975 - Butch Hohlen, Jim Erickson, John Hohlen, Ray Winans and Jerry Sandberg were members of the Hohlen Brothers bowling team that won the city title by defeating Lundgren Realty. John Hohlen had the best series with a 536.
April 24, 1980 - With the temperature over 90 in very windy conditions, the PHS golf team lost 171-174 to Sauk Rapids in a home meet. Todd Dery shot a 41 . . . The girls track team was second in the Rum River Conference Relays as the two-mile relay team of Ruth Blaske, Marg Tadych, Kris Auers and Julie Nelson won.
April 25, 1985 - Mickey Branchaud pitched a perfect game in an 11-0 win over Braham by the PHS baseball team, with 15 strikeouts, and Tim Vagle pitched a one-hitter and struck out 11 in a 12-0 win over Foley . . . Ward Thompson placed third in the long jump at 20'1" in the St. Francis Invitational and also placed second, fourth and sixth in other events.
April 26, 1990 - The PHS baseball team beat Minneapolis Patrick Henry 14-0 at the Metrodome as John Mann drove in four runs . . . Pitchers Jill Carling and Rachel Brown led the PHS softball team to a 7-2 start.
April 27, 1995 - Seth Jensen hit a grand-slam home run in the seventh inning as the PHS baseball team beat Blaine 8-6 at the Blaine tournament . . . Paul Anderson was medalist with a 76 as the Tigers placed second in the nine-team Princeton Invitational.
April 21, 2000 - Roxie Stang, a senior at PHS, accepted a hockey scholarship at St. Cloud State, putting her on the path to becoming the first PHS female to play college hockey. Stang didn't play hockey at PHS which had the sport for only her last two years there . . . PHS grad Chad Carling, starting center fielder for the Mount Mercy College team in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, was named its athlete of the month for March. He was hitting .417 at the time and leading the team in stolen bases with 13.
April 28, 2005 - Katie Loberg won the high jump, was third in the 400 and eighth in the triple jump as PHS placed eighth in the 12-team Hurni Invitational at Princeton . . . Alex Osowski shot a 38 as the boys golf team won a dual meet at Monticello vs. Big Lake.
April 22, 2010 - The PHS baseball team beat Big Lake 5-3 as Brent Miodus got the win and Josh Vickers and Nick Shodeen each drove in two runs . . . Cole Warren had a hole in one on No. 5 at Princeton Golf Club.
April 23, 2015 - The boys track team won the Rum River Relays at Sauk Rapids. Tanner Palmborg broke his school triple jump record at 42'10" and also had the best mark in the long jump at 2l'2" (every event was a relay, including two or three teammates). The girls team placed third among the five teams with Reilee Schepper, Taylor Laabs, Anna Oakes and Hope Humphrey winning the 4x100 relay by a full second.
(Dorr is the former editor of the Princeton Eagle (2 years) and Princeton Union-Eagle (31 years) and has covered sports in the area for the past 53 years.)