By Gary Larson
Mille Lacs County Times
Milaca’s softball team is in Orlando, Fla., this week where it was scheduled to scrimmage teams from Wisconsin, New York and Pennsylvania as well as hold practice sessions at the Disney Sports Complex.
This is the sixth time the Wolves softball team has made a spring trip to Florida. The first was in 2000 and the last one before this year was in 2008.
The team departed Milaca last Friday afternoon via a North Central Transportation bus. It will return to Milaca this weekend.
Randy Johnson, who’s starting his 19th season as Milaca softball coach, answered these questions before departing with his team.
•How do you feel these trips have benefited the team and individual players?
Johnson: These trips have been an incredible way to help build team chemistry. The players working together through fund-raising efforts, planning and preparation allows them to learn how to work together for common goals. The competition gives us a good idea where we are in terms of competitive level, allows us to see our strengths and weaknesses.
•How do the kids keep up with their studies?
Johnson: We plan the trip around the school calendar to miss the fewest days of school. This year they will miss 2.5 days. We also have a team made up of very good students. We just calculated our varsity team GPA at 3.887.
•How are the funds generated to pay for the trip(s)?
Johnson: About 60-75 per cent of the funds are gained through fund-raising efforts. This year our big efforts included a community breakfast sponsored by the American Legion, a garage sale hosted by the high school, concessions throughout the fall and winter events at the school, a support team with the Mega Cross Country Meet last fall, pizza sales, etc.
•Where to the kids stay and where are the games played? How would you describe the facilities?
Johnson: This year we will be staying about two miles from the Disney Sports Complex. The facilities at the Wide World of Sports Disney Complex are amazing. It is also the home of the Atlanta Braves training camp. The fields are immaculate. We will have the opportunity to scrimmage under the lights this year in two of our scrimmages. We will also be able to visit three of the Disney Parks.
•About how many other schools might be there while the Wolves are there?
Johnson: There are 47 other high schools from around the country when we are there.
•What questions are you hoping to get answers for on the trip?
Johnson: We have some experienced players returning and a strong returning pitcher in Ashley Johnson. We have a good mix of experience and young players with lots of enthusiasm. Our biggest challenge will be to replace all-conference and most valuable player Rose Ash. Sophomore Natalie Bernard has looked very good in summer ball and in early season practices.
Players who went on the Florida trip included seniors Ashley Johnson, Kymee Nelsen, Jessica Sikkink and Anna Swanson, juniors Sophie Patten, Sadie Hunt, Danyell Keen and Hayden Gutlovics, sophomores Natalie Bernard, Orianna Scherer and Jessica Hohnwaldt and ninth-graders Megan Bremer, Hannah Johnson, Alex Ploeger and Kristina Loegering.
The Wolves open regular-season play by hosting Zimmerman in a Granite Ridge Conference game Tuesday, April 10, at 5 p.m. at Sod Park.