Local Sports Archives for 2020-01

Former NBA great Kobe Bryant dies in helicopter crash

Former NBA and Los Angeles Lakers great Kobe Bryant died Sunday along with eight other people, including his 13-year-old daughter Giana in a helicopter accident.  He was 41-years-old.  Bryant and his daughter were heading to the Maba Sports Academy in Thousands Oaks California where Kobe was expected to coach Gianna.  The helicopter had been flying in foggy conditions, considered dangerous enough local police agencies grounded their helicopter.  56-year-old John Altobelli, a longtime orange coast college basketball coach, his wife and daughter were also killed in the crash.  Bryant played 20 NBA seasons, all for the LA Lakers, retiring in 2016.  He won five NBA championships, one MVP in 2008 and two Olympic gold medals for team USA.  He leaves behind his wife Vanessa and three other daughters. 

PC picked to finish last in NSAA softball poll

Valley City State (N.D.) was the North Star Athletic Association softball coaches’ favorite to repeat the league title, the 2020 softball preseason poll was announced Monday afternoon by the conference office.

The Vikings collected four first-place votes and tallied 59 points to claim the top spot in the preseason poll. VCSU had a historic 2019 season with an astounding 54-5 overall record, which include a trip to the NAIA World Series. Valley City State breezed through the North Star conference season with an impressive 26-2 record and rolled to their conference postseason tournament title.

Bellevue (Neb.) picked up three first-place votes and earned 57 points to place second. The Bruins also qualified for the NAIA Softball National Tournament Opening Round, falling short to Houston-Victoria (Texas) and Avila (Mo.). BU finished their 2019 season with an overall record of 44-20 and 23-5 record in NSAA.

Mayville State (N.D.) recorded its final first-place vote and totaled 49 points to finish third. Dickinson State (N.D.) was tabbed to finish fourth with 43 points.

Viterbo (Wis.) edged Waldorf (Iowa) 28-26 to secure the No. 5 spot in the coaches’ preseason poll. Dakota State was seventh with 17 points, followed by Presentation (S.D.) eighth with nine points.
Points were awarded on an 8-1 basis in the conference coaches’ preseason poll.

The North Star conference softball season officially starts on March 14-15 between Dickinson State and Waldorf in Tucson, Ariz. with a four-game series. The rest of the NSAA conference members will start league play on March 21-22 (schedule: Presentation at Viterbo; Dakota State at Valley City State and Bellevue at Mayville State).

Most of the softball conference schedule will be played on the weekend (Saturday-Sunday) with a four-game series. The traveling partners (BU-DaSU, VU-WU, DiSU-PC and VCSU-MSU) will play a doubleheader on the middle of the week during the regular-season.

The NSAA Softball conference tournament will be held in Valley City, N.D. on April 30 through May 3.

There is one automatic bid to the NAIA Softball National Tournament Opening round, with 10 different sites with four teams each competing in a double-elimination tournament on May 11-13. The winner of the postseason conference tournament will earn the automatic bid to the national tournament.

The NAIA Softball World Series take place in Columbus, Ga. on May 21-27.

Below is the complete 2019 NSAA Softball Coaches’ Preseason Poll:
2020 North Star Athletic Association Softball Preseason Poll
Rank School Points
1 Valley City State (N.D.) (4) 59
2 Bellevue (Neb.) (3) 57
3 Mayville State (N.D.) (1) 49
4 Dickinson State (N.D.) 43
5 Viterbo (Wis.) 28
6 Waldorf (Iowa) 26
7 Dakota State (S.D.) 17
8 Presentation (S.D.) 9
*First-place votes in parenthesis

Former Minnesota running back Donell Kirkwood joins Wolves football coaching staff

A former Big Ten football player has been hired as the new assistant coach for Northern State University Football.
Donnell Kirkwood will coach the running backs for the Wolves. Kirkwood played for the University of Minnesota from 2010 to 2015, winning honors including the Paul Giel Award, Offensive Back of the Year and Offensive Player of the Year. He led the Gophers with 926 yards rushing and six touchdowns in his sophomore campaign.
"Coach Kirkwood is a home run hire and a tremendous addition to our coaching staff," said NSU Wolves Head Football Coach Mike Schmidt. "He is a ball of energy who will create strong, lasting relationships with our players. He's a great coach and a perfect fit for our football program."
Originally from Delray Beach, Fla., Kirkwood most recently worked for River Bend Education Center in Minneapolis. There, he served as a youth physical education and health teacher for elementary and middle school students. Kirkwood earned a Bachelor of Science in Youth Studies from the University of Minnesota in December 2013.
His coaching experience includes serving as running backs coach for Minnesota's Southwest High School from 2015 to 2019, along with special teams coordinator and defensive backs coach in 2019. Kirkwood also had internships on the coaching staffs of Andover and DeLaSalle high schools in Minnesota.
"I would like to thank Coach Schmidt for the opportunity to be a part of his staff," Kirkwood said. "It's a great opportunity to be under a head coach who believes and values hard work. I love that about him and the excitement he brings. I'm excited to share my knowledge with this team and pick the brains of many of the great coaches on this staff."  

PC Dome open for public walking

The Presentation College Winter Dome is now available to the public for walking purposes. The hours of availability for the community will be Monday through Friday from 7:00 a.m. to 10:00 a.m. beginning Tuesday, January 7 and ending, Friday, April 17. Hours and holiday closures will be posted on the outside of the Dome.


Tennis shoes only, and no pets please.


If there are any other times in which you would like to rent the Dome, Strode, or other facility, for your group or team needs, please contact Krista Christianson at 605-229-8395 or

Former NBA Commissioner David Stern passes away

Former NBA Commissioner David Stern passed away Wednesday at the age of 77.  He had been hospitalized since December 12th after suffering a brain hemorrhage.  Stern oversaw the NBA for 30 years and is the longest serving commissioner in league history.  Under Stern’s leadership the NBA grew beyond its popularity in the United States and became a global brand grossing more than $5 billion a year.  Stern had worked in the NBA for at least two decades before becoming commissioner.  He stepped down as commissioner in 2014 and was replaced by the current commissioner Adam Silver.     

Golden Gophers defeat Auburn in the Outback Bowl

The University of Minnesota defeated the Auburn Tigers yesterday 31-24 to win the 2020 Outback Bowl.  With the win, not only did the Gophers win their first New Year’s day bowl game since the 1962 Rose Bowl, but the team finished with 11 wins for the first time since 1904.  During the game Golden Gopher wide receiver Tyler Johnson had 12 receptions for 204 yards and two touchdowns.  That puts him as the Gophers career leader in receptions and Minnesota’s all-time leader in scoring receptions. 

Minnesota Wild awarded the 2021 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic

The NHL announced Wednesday the Minnesota Wild have been chosen to host the 2021 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic.  The Winter Classic began in 2008 and features an outdoor game on New Years Day.  This is the first time ever Minnesota has been selected to host the event and the game will be played at Target Field.  The Wild’s opponent for the event will be announced at a later date.