It is often said that many hands make lighter the work. That’s never been more the case than in recent weeks around the Minnesota State University campus.
As director of athletics, it’s been a pleasure to preside over a very busy event schedule as successful fall teams have played deep into the postseason, overlapping their winter sport counterparts.
Last weekend was one for the ages. The calendar showed a total of 11 events spread out over a three-day period. I could spend this entire column praising an athletic event staff that stepped up to the plate and knocked the presentation of all of these events out of the park — including a compliance director who handled scoreboard operator duties and coaches who pitched in with event setup — but my focus is on recognizing the efforts of those outside of athletics who stepped up to make it all happen.
How about a hand for the grounds crew? With several snowfall events offering our area an early winter greeting, this group has been exceptionally busy in recent weeks.
Their first focus has to be on clearing the campus, but then they turn their attention to the athletic fields. They have literally dug us out of trouble on more than one occasion, including preparing our stadium and practice fields for two rounds of playoffs on Nov. 30 and Dec. 7 — with a big assist from the football team in clearing the bleachers for fans and spectators.
This hardworking group even made a valiant effort to stage two rounds of the Division II women’s soccer playoffs this past weekend before an NCAA committee decided that the sub-zero temperatures made for unsafe field conditions.
No problem — let’s just shift the action indoors to the new Scheels Field at the Maverick All-Sports Dome. A huge thank you, by the way, to the students and leadership team who helped make that facility possible.
But what’s that you say — it’s not quite ready for action yet? Again, no problem. A pair of expert project managers partnered with contractors who were motivated by the opportunity to showcase their work and helped accelerate the finish.
My operations and event staff double-teamed with grounds and CampusRec staffers and, on overnight notice, made a mammoth empty space into a championship soccer venue that we could all be proud of.
We even picked up some outside help from Bethany Lutheran College on corner flags for the field and from Martin Luther College, which provided the portable scoreboard. Not your typical Friday around here: final building inspections at 10 a.m., substantial completion and binding insurance coverage by noon, whistle blows at 3 p.m., and then it’s game on!
The athletic teams and fans did not disappoint either. The men’s and women’s basketball teams each picked up a win on Friday night.
Women’s soccer claimed a regional title that same evening before falling to perennial powerhouse Grand Valley on Sunday afternoon to end a truly outstanding season.
The men’s hockey team, rated No. 1 in the nation, delighted near-capacity crowds at the Mankato Civic Center with a sweep of Lake Superior State over the weekend, and the football team convincingly defeated Texas A&M-Commerce on Saturday afternoon to move them on to the semifinals. They will battle Slippery Rock University in Pennsylvania this Saturday for the right to advance to the national championship game in McKinney, Texas, on Dec. 21.
With that big football game on the road this weekend, nine football players and a student equipment manager will miss their opportunity to participate in the on-campus commencement exercises taking place at Taylor Center’s Bresnan Arena at 9 a.m. and noon this Saturday.
Again, no problem. University administrators, faculty and staff have teamed up to create a special graduation ceremony to take place at 5 p.m. today in the Johnson Alumni Room.
Friends and family have been invited to watch their tassels turn — and for those who can’t make it, Information Technology has come to the rescue to livestream the event so that anyone who can’t make it to the ceremony has the chance to witness of one of life’s biggest moments, even if they are doing so remotely.
Indeed, many hands make lighter the work. The “team behind the teams” answered the call at every turn over the last few weeks and for that, I am grateful. Racha Macha, MSU —it’s a great time to be a Maverick!
Kevin Buisman is director of athletics at Minnesota State University.