This year’s Anoka Letterman’s Club scholarship banquet took on a familiar tone as recent Minnesota Football Coaches Association hall of fame inductee Dave Nelson shared a heartfelt message from growing up in one of Anoka’s most well-known families to his coaching days at Blaine and Minnetonka.
Nearly 150 lettermen from Anoka High School gathered for the 54th time at Green Haven Golf Course to honor the 2014 scholarship award winners and show their support for the future of the Tornadoes.
Nelson is the son of fellow hall of fame coach Stan Nelson and brother of New England Patriots Pro Bowl linebacker Steve Nelson and sister Cheryl (Nelson) King, Anoka Hall of Fame inductee. Cheryl, Stan and Steve were inaugural members of the hall of fame.
Dave shared a few stories from his childhood like how he and Steve would train compared to the nicely equipped facilities nowdays.
He also shared thoughts on the early days of his coaching career in Blaine. The freshman, JV and varsity football teams didn’t win a game but four years later had its first state title. Now he’s helped establish a second highly-respected program at Minnetonka.
Letterman’s club president Carl Youngquist was pleased to not only see more letter winners join the club, but the number of recent scholarship winners take part.
Travis Mushuga and Joe Redmann were the recipients of the 2014 Everett Vevea and Jack Blesi Memorial Scholarships.
Mushuga, a three-sport standout captained the soccer and hockey teams and has a 3.87 grade-point average. The four-year letter winner was introduced by boys’ hockey coach and fellow Letterman’s Club member Todd Manthey.
Redmann, a football and baseball captain with a 3.75 GPA was introduced by football coach Jeff Buerkle.
Youngquist said narrowing the scholarship winners from nine to the final two was a tough undertaking, given the qualities of each applicant.
Longtime assistant coach Don Kropp was named an honorary A-Club member, introduced by club member Jim Lundeen.
In addition to a golf outing and silent auction, a live auction helped raise nearly $2,500 to be used for future scholarships.
Anoka alumni, Craig Torbenson’s recently published book, “Tornado Magic: A History of Anoka High School Sports” was also on display with proceeds from each book sold given to the Billy Bye Memorial Fund.
The fund was established as a way to financial assist students who might not be able pay activity funds to take part in extracurricular activities at Anoka High School.
According to Youngquist, the fund had 42 applicants apply.
What’s become another staple of the evening is the continued welcome of previous alumni and scholarship winners.
“That’s something we started three years ago,” Youngquist said. “Two years ago we had Mike Knight and Nate Miller, last year Tony Flint returned and this year we welcomed Josh Niedenfuer who was a four-year starter on the Augustana football team and captain his senior season in 2009.”
Niedenfuer talked with the two scholarship winners about what it meant to him.
Recipients from 2012 Ryan Rand and Ben Sjodin were the first pair to return to the A-Club event the year after.
This year, 2013 recipient Ryan Rumpca returned while Tanner Mccardle relayed his heartfelt thanks for the scholarship to Youngquist, even though he was out of the state and couldn’t make the evening.
“It’s very encouraging to see the younger ones return,” Youngquist said, counting 14 previous scholarship award winners in attendance.
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