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Desktop Sportsman - 08/26/10 - Alaskan Getaway Edition

Before I begin I'd like to thank my wife's cousin Sally and her husband for their hospitality for Gina and myself during the week we were in Alaska.

So whom do Alaska sports fans root for outside of their own local school teams? The answer may surprise you.

The Seattle teams, the Mariners and the Seahawks, have their set of fans given that they are the closest pro teams to the Last Frontier. One saw a Mariners game on the TV in the Anchorage Airport sports bar. If a fan wanted to attend a game in Seattle, it's a three hour direct flight from Anchorage or puddle jump as one might call it.

But the Mariners are terrible and the favorite football team in Alaska isn't the Seahawks, it's....ready for this....the Vikings.

Apparently during the Great Depression the government provided homesteads for Upper Midwest farmers from Minnesota, the Dakotas, Wisconsin and the UP to start farms and grow row crops, fruits and vegetables so that Alaskans wouldn't have to import all their own food. They wanted farmers experienced with short growing seasons and harsh winter climates. Well the descendants of these farmers still live on to this day and many of them like the Vikes'. Brett Favre may want to contemplate taking a hunting or fishing trip to Alaska. There certainly were enough Southerners doing so as they filled the seats of the plane both on the way there and back.

I've heard some complaining about moving the high school football season back a week next year. To put that in perspective, Alaskan high schools (and high school football is a big deal up there) started their regular seasons the weekend we were on vacation, Aug. 6-7. They like to get their football done with in late October before the weather gets really nasty. Apparently, playing on the frozen tundra is something people like to do in Green Bay, not where the tundra is really located.

Actually, the real cold and snowy stuff can be found from the Mat-Su Valley (Sarah Palin's home turf) north to Arctic Sea (and yes you can drive the route of the "Ice Road Truckers" during the summer if you don't mind driving 500 miles of gravel road at 40 mph and changing tires every so often. Oh yes, don't look down on the mountain passes). Anchorage and the Kenai Peninsula's temperature and climate is more moderate. Think of Seattle with snow.

This was the first trip I was on where I saw actual mountain-mountains and maybe it's just me but, boy is it hard not to feel small in the world besides them.

Actually, if it wasn't for grizzlies roaming about (which .45 always comes in handy as my wife's cousin would say), the tundra would be a nice place for picnics. It's why backpackers love to roam the trails of Denali National Park despite the wildlife dangers.

Now back home, I would like to congratulate Grady Radabaugh on being named new head wrestling coach of Somerset High School's. Father and son will square off Dec. 9 in Somerset. Jack Radabaugh says he's very excited for Grady's new opportunity and for the chance he has to coach against him in the dual meet.

Paul Churchill will be coaching hoops again as Plum City has hired him as the new boys' basketball hetman.

I don't like it that St. Croix Falls, St. Croix Central and Luck were forced out of the Middle Border Conference for girls golf. If the league doesn't have a full compliment of teams in a certain sport, there's no reason why adding a few "orphans" schools for different sports is a detriment to the MBC. In fact, it's been a big plus, especially in girls golf.

If you are interested, I've included a story link with a photo about New Richmond High School's new athletic facilities. With enrollment trends pushing NR's enrollment over 1,000 in a few years while Rice Lake's stagnates, I'm afraid there will be a switch between the Big Rivers and Middle Border in a few years, which means trips to Rice Lake in January for schools like Prescott and Ellsworth. But where else can Rice Lake go if not the MBC?

I had wonderful time off and got a lot accomplished but I'm glad to be back at home and back at work.