Winter sports at the high school level involves players who slice across the ice, sprint up and down the hardwood, perform flips and other nimble maneuvers on the mats and those who deftly dance.
But there’s more to sports than just the acts that are performed on the athletes’ respective courts and in their gyms.
How athletes perform in the classroom is just as important as the effort they give when playing sports.
At the NBAPS School Board meeting April 10, winter sports athletes were commended for both their sporting accomplishments and the dedication they showed in classes this year.
First to be recognized was the boys basketball team, coached by David Anderson.
Anderson said the team had 10 wins this year, more victories in a single season than the team had totaled in a decade.
“We had a 76-73 home win versus the No. 7-ranked team in the state, Big Lake, and we had two victories over Chisago Lakes, including a dramatic 70-68 overtime win in the section quarterfinals,” he said of some of the season’s highlights. “The most important highlight of our year is that we have six seniors who are graduating our program this year; they have left a great legacy on our program in North Branch. I’m extremely proud of them and the outstanding young men they’ve grown into. They’ll be missed next season, but their impact will be felt for several years to come.”
Anderson added that senior Travis Van Elsberg scored his 1,000th career point this season.
He said the following players were named Academic All-Conference: Dylan Dahle, Aaron Biederman, Travis Van Elsberg, Riley Jacobson, Brandon Thauwald, Tennie Jacobson, Max Southbloom, Regan Nelson and Matt Blomquist.
Girls basketball coach Jerome Huselid said his team had a solid season, winning 13 games.
He noted the highlights of the team’s season were winning the Little Falls tournament over Christmas break, going to the section semifinals and losing by just five points, and Haley Huset scoring her 1,000th career point.
All-Conference Academic Award winners were: Courtney Selbitschka, Morgen Coleman, Megan Carlson, Kora Amunrud, Sarah Davis, Megan Becklin, Jaci Bossard and Kadie Mattson Mikayla Carlson, Haley Huset and Hailie Corner.
Amunrud and Corner were also named All-State Academic Award winners, an award given to players who average a 3.8 GPA or higher.
Huset was named All-Conference, and Coleman and Selbitschka garnered honorable mentions.
Gymnastics coach Barb Burdick said the School Board had already recognized her players in the winter after the team made it to the state meet, and she was glad her athletes got that honor.
Casey Hovland, Katy Trunk, and Alexys Olson were Academic All-Conference.
Megan Mahoney and Trunk won All-Conference accolades.
Boys hockey player Brandon Timm, an All-Conference Honorable Mention Award recipient, detailed his team’s season with teammates Ryan Byrkit and Connor Lee by his side.
He said it wasn’t the best season they’ve ever had, but there was one big highlight: beating Pine City in their playoff game.
“We haven’t won a playoff game in five years or so,” he said. “We have 24 varsity players, and 15 of them are freshmen. I think it was a good learning experience year. Hopefully they’ll work hard, and down the road a couple of years into the future, they’ll be really good.”
Dance team member Alyssa Dervie, Academic All-Conference and All-Conference, recapped her team’s season.
She said dancers Katya Kaslow and Lily Anderson were named Academic-All Conference, and Jillian Yerges garnered Academic All-Conference and All-Conference Honorable Mention.
“We also wanted to recognize Marissa Johnson, Grace Mohs, Marissa Morgenstern and Courtney Young for Academic All-Conference,” she said.
“This year, we had new coaches and we didn’t know our new coaches until about the first week before dance, so it was kind of a rough start, but it was a growing season and we ended as strong as we could be,” Dervie said.
To wrap up the recognition portion of the meeting, Athletic/Community Education Director Brett Carlson announced the winners of the Excel Award, given to one male and one female junior athlete and the AAA Award — arts, activities and athletics — given to one male and one female senior athlete.
The Excel Award winners were Katy Trunk and Matt Blomquist.
The AAA Award winners were Andrew Peterson and Cassidy White.