by Dennis Dalman
Thanks partly to its Sartell “contingent,” the St. John’s University “Johnnies” handily won six of eight games at a baseball tournament recently in Tucson, Ariz.
Two pitchers and three coaches for the Johnnies live in, were raised in or work in Sartell. They are coaches Chad Krueger, a Sartell resident who works for Fed Ex; Jason Spohn of Cold Spring, who teaches eighth-grade social studies in Sartell; Thom Woodward, retired SJU employee who lives in Sartell; and pitchers John Schumer of Sartell, an SJU freshman; and Adam Wenker of Sartell, an SJU junior.
The Johnnies’ head coach is Jeremy Haugen, who has held that position for 35 years.
In Tucson, the Johnnies’ varsity team competed against six teams in four days. The team, on a winning streak, won the first six games it played, but it lost the last two. Coach Woodward said the team’s energy seemed to lag a bit at the last because of the sun and wind, which they have not been used to yet, living as they do in Minnesota. It was the fifth consecutive year the Johnnies played ball in Arizona. They also played in the Metrodome twice this season.
“We had a very successful trip,” Woodward said. “It helped us figure out our line-up and got the younger players some good experience.”
Their season record so far is 11-5 overall. The team is hoping to go all the way to competition in NCAA Division III.
“We’re shooting for that,” Woodward said. “We’ve got a pretty good-looking ball team.”
The Johnnies play 40 games every season. There are 35 members on the varsity team and 18 members on the non-varsity team.
Woodward, who is one of the team’s assistant coaches and recruiting coordinator, is very proud of the Johnnies and of SJU. Born in New Jersey, he earned a degree in communications from SJU. He worked as a sports reporter for the St. Cloud Times from 1969-73 and has been an SJU employee ever since, as director of alumni relations for a total of 38 years. He retired 18 months ago but still works part-time as an assistant coach.
Anyone who wants to follow the Johnnies’ progress through the rest of the baseball season can do so via its website: www.gojohnnies.com
Author: Dennis Dalman
Dalman was born and raised in South St. Cloud, graduated from St. Cloud Tech High School, then graduated from St. Cloud State University with a degree in English (emphasis on American and British literature) and mass communications (emphasis on print journalism). He studied in London, England for a year (1980-81) where he concentrated on British literature, political science, the history of Great Britain and wrote a book-length study of the British writer V.S. Naipaul. Dalman has been a reporter and weekly columnist for more than 30 years and worked for 16 of those years for the Alexandria Echo Press.