Coach Standen and the 1981 state softball champsCelebration is Sunday afternoon at Rapids Riverside
The following is another “Have Fun or Get Out of the Way” column by award-winning Don Leighton and Mike Granlund and their alter egos, Lance Boyle and Billy Pirkola, which runs occasionally in The Superior Telegram.
Two milestones will collide this weekend as the Northwestern Tigers’ WIAA Class B state softball championship team from 1981 meets to reminisce 30 years later.
Their coach of that season, Doug Standen, will also celebrate his retirement after 35 years of teaching at NHS.
The combined festivities will take place at Rapids Riverside on Highway 2 from 1 to 5 p.m. Sunday.
1981 State Champs
Deanna Williams (now Sims) came from a family that loved sports. Her brothers, Dave and Larry, were outstanding basketball players for coach Darrel Kaldor in the 1970s.
It came as no surprise, then, that Williams would excel herself. Working all winter with brother Dave in the basement of their Poplar home, Deanna became the pitcher Coach Standen needed for the Tigers in the spring of 1981.
The other pieces were in place: a solid infield of first baseman Sue Fechtelkotter (Johnson), second baseman Jackie Milroy (Minor), shortstop Tamra Heyser (Bingham) and third baseman Beth Abrahamzon (Warriner) were augmented by outfielders Janet Rieckhoff (Tokar), Connie Mahanna (Boyd) and Mary Moreland (Ries).
Joy Longville was the catcher and Kirsten Heyser (Standen) was the designated hitter.
Other key members of the team were outfielders Vickie Khaler, Diana Colton (McNew) and Linda Kazekewicz (Krueger); infielders Tammy Colton, Tammy Androski (Kontny) and Jean Hietala; pitcher Kim Erkkila (Miller); and catcher Peggy Klinge (Hipsher).
Dave Williams assisted Standen, and Diane Heino (Gaertner) and Rod Powers were the managers. LeRoy Fechtelkotter, Sue’s father, was the Tiger athletic director and Tom Henning was the high school principal.
Only 7-5 on the regular season, the Tigers definitely peaked for the tournament as they edged Hayward 7-6 and then 10-runned Ashland, Amery and Bloomer to reach the state tournament. Bloomer defeated the Tigers 25-3 just two weeks before and was shocked by the Tigers’ 10-0 win.
Pitching rules at that time limited the innings allowed, so Coach Standen had held Williams out of the earlier Bloomer game to prepare for the tournament. That was likely one of the great coaching moves in high school softball annals.
While at state the Tigers defeated Reedsburg 15-4, with Moreland hitting a home run, setting up the state championship game against Bonduel, which was making its third straight championship game appearance.
The Bonduel Bears started the game with four runs in the top of the first, but that was all it would get.
It was early “small ball” as the Bears managed only four hits off Williams and three of them were bunts.
Northwestern’s first four runs scored on only one hit, and the winning runs came in the bottom of the fifth inning on a two-run double by Mary Moreland, propelling the Tigers to a 6-4 victory.
Williams hurled the first six innings, but Kim Erkkila had to come in and finish the game. She retired Bonduel on just eight pitches to seal the championship and shine the spotlight on the school in Maple.
The Tigers were state champions.
Standen graduated from Superior High School in 1970 and UW-Superior in 1974. His teaching career started soon after in the School District of Maple.
Standen credits former District Administrator Dr. Leonard Kavajecz for giving him the opportunity to begin a teaching career near his hometown. His career spanned four different principals at NHS as he taught science, biology, chemistry and physics. Naturally that also includes labs for those classes, and that is where many of Standen’s fondest (and scariest) memories came from.
Standen’s teaching career culminated at graduation recently when the senior class requested him to deliver the commencement address. His speech disappointed no one, sprinkled with humor and evidence of his rapport with his students.
Standen coached softball for 15 years and various sports throughout the years in Maple, served as department chair for more than 25 years and also became one of the most respected officials in the area. His basketball partner was Rees Flint and in baseball/softball he was paired with Ted Braatz for many years.
Standen had the opportunity to coach his son, Kyle, during a stint as an assistant baseball coach.
The softball state championship actually sits as fourth of the highlights of coach Standen’s life; right after his marriage to Kirsten Heyser and the births of his children, Rachael and Kyle, but his real legacy is the influence he had over the thousand-some students that he taught at NHS.
Standen had the unique combination of acumen and knowledge and the timely sense of humor to inspire his students to succeed in the classroom. They will certainly miss him.
The public is invited to help the 1981 team and coach Standen celebrate on Sunday.
Lance and BiIly have been wondering how many of the girls still have the commemorative gold softball that they were awarded after the tournament. We guess most of them still do.
Boyleing in the Pirkolater:
• Steve Tecker, Sam Williams and Jake Tokar all competed in the WIAA State Basketball Tournament for Northwestern over the past three years. They are the sons of Deanna Sims, Dave Williams, and Janet Tokar, respectively.
• Cody Kontny, son of Tammy (and Dan) Kontny, just graduated from Northwestern and was the quarterback on the HON championship football team and pitcher on the baseball team.
• Jackie (Milroy) Minor is program operations director at the Superior Douglas County Family YMCA.
• Kirsten Standen is the center manager for the Brule Head Start Program.
• Many of the others have scattered around the United States; Khaler in Oklahoma, Longville in Texas, Erkkila and Tamra Heyser Bingham in Washington, Warriner in Illinois, and Ries in Virginia.
• Bayfield won the 1981 WIAA Class C state championship. Two members of that team are currently teachers in the Maple School District: Betsy Hauser Besonen and Judy Hauser Cowley.
The “Have Fun or Get Out of the Way” column by Don Leighton and Mike Granlund runs occasionally in The Superior Telegram. Opinions and/or story ideas can be e-mailed to firstname.lastname@example.org.