I frequently hear the word “family” as coaches and student-athletes talk about their teams.
I can understand how it feels that way with as much time as they spend together and support each other. But there are also teammates who hop into the same car at the end of practice and go home to the same dinner table.
I have a younger brother. We played a form of football in the living room, got together with the neighbors to dig up some grass in the local park, or even pulled enough guys together for some pick-up baseball. So, I really enjoy the following stories.
Owatonna’s Samantha and Kendra Bogen have played numerous seasons together in volleyball, hockey, and softball despite their two-year grade difference. Jacob-to-Nolan Ginskey is a frequent connection on the football field. Hannah and Lauren Nelson are twins playing on the same doubles tennis team.
Lauren and Kelli Waypa enjoyed their time together on the soccer pitch last fall. Mitchell and Matt Seykora played a little summer ball together. Owen and Payton Beyer’s time one-on-one is mostly limited to the backyard.
These students only scratch the surface of recent family affairs, but they represent several interviews I’ve hosted recently on OwatonnaLive.com.
Slight sibling rivalry
“It’s nice most of the time. Some days we argue and not get along, but most days, it’s really nice. I always know she’s there for support, and I’m there for her. So, we can always go to each other if we need help or anything. It’s really fun,” said Samantha Bogen.
They’re siblings… there will be some rivalry.
The Ginskeys connected on a long touchdown pass in the 2022 season opener, but Nolan got injured later in that game and didn’t play again. This season, Jacob says they are on the same page.
“It’s definitely sweet. All the years playing catch in the backyard, or parks and rec. football, and then finally coming out on the field and seeing it all come together,” he said.
The pair was on a special wavelength at Northfield last Friday. Nolan hauled in 11 catches for 206 yards and three touchdowns, including the game-clinching score late in the fourth quarter of the Huskies’ 26-21 victory. He also had an interception. Jacob threw for 338 yards and four touchdowns.
This is the first time for the Nelsons, who are juniors, to be on the same doubles team since a short stint during their time on the junior varsity team.
“Last year, we had totally separate partners. So, this is our first year of playing in a more serious spot for points. It’s an adjustment. But it’s super fun. There are definitely some days where we’re not playing the best together but usually, we can get out of it. It’s just easy because we’re around each other all the time,” said Hannah.
“We kind of know each other’s strengths and weaknesses without having to communicate. We’re there for each other and we know where we need to be. It’s almost twin telepathy.”
Lauren said Hannah’s strengths are her “rocket serve and she’s also really aggressive at the net and has a great forehand.”
“I think she’s really great at the net. She’s very aggressive. She can cut across really well to get a volley and I think her serve is really good because it’s super consistent,” Hannah said of Lauren.
Despite a three-year age difference, Mitch and Matt Seykora still played together on the same diamond.
“During summer baseball we played a lot last year with Legion Post 77. And this year played together a lot with town ball with the Aces. It’s pretty cool playing with him,” said Mitch.
“We went back and forth a lot when we were younger. I think we’ve gotten to settle down that part a little bit,” said Matt, who was Mitch’s coach at times this past summer.
Owen Beyer had a limited time crossing over with Payton. “It was like one game, out in the outfield. It wasn’t much, but it was pretty sweet,” he said.
According to Owen, when they were younger, “We were always battling back and forth. We’ll sometimes wrestle in the living room. I’ll usually win. Nah, I’m just kidding. We’re always battling, making each other better in the backyard. I think that a lot of my success today stems from that.”
Sharing the pitch
Lauren and Kelli Waypa spent a year of varsity soccer together last season.
“It’s very cool. I’m very happy that we’re on the same team because it’s my last year. In the spring, through OSA, we were on the same team and that was really fun,” said Lauren.
She assisted on Kelli’s first varsity goal.
“It was really cool because it was off one of my corners. It was really fun that she got her first one and I got to be a part of it a little bit,” she said.
Kelli summed it up simply when we spoke this fall: “She did a corner kick, and I hit it in from there. It was special because I wanted to score a goal on varsity and to have it with her was cool.”
Lauren added when prompted, “I think we’re competitive with each other, but we know how to be there for each other. It’s not in a rough way.”
Home and Away
These examples are all siblings of the same gender. Many families have a son and a daughter in the same sport, playing in a different city at the same time. I’ve seen plenty of people watching one child on a stream or listening on the radio, while at the other’s game.
One of my favorite stories is from Todd Hale, who was in Owatonna watching a grandchild play hockey while listening to me on the radio covering the other grandchild at a road game. Each scored a goal at nearly the same moment.
Husky senior captain Jackson Mottl scored his first varsity goal in Saturday’s 2-0 win over Farmington in a key section soccer match-up. The tall defender headed in a corner kick in the 29th minute. Ashton Kraus converted a penalty kick in the 54th minute to complete the scoring.
Garrett Karsten left the game late in the first half and did not return after a hard collision in front of the Tiger net during a corner kick.
The win adds intrigue to playoff seeding time, as teams jostle for position behind defending section champ Rochester Mayo, who remain unbeaten on the season entering this week.
The girls’ game with Farmington was cut short as threatening weather rolled in with about 25 minutes left in the second half, right after the Tigers leveled the score at 1-1 on a penalty kick. Averi Vetsch scored in the 31st minute off a nice feed from Kennedy Schammel.
The game officially ended as a tie. Both teams are vying for a coveted home playoff match.
Huskies’ football hosts Tackle Cancer Friday, Sept. 29 during their Homecoming game. Proceeds raised benefit the Randy Shaver Cancer Research Fund. Fans can donate at the game or purchase a raffle ticket that night for a chance at a basket of Husky apparel and a football signed by the 2023 team. Since 2011 over $28,000 has been raised locally in the fight against cancer.
The time is approaching for the Governor’s Pheasant Hunting Opener, being held for the first time in Owatonna. The behind-the-scenes planning is many months along for the activities on Oct.13 and 14.
Events open to the public, including food trucks and the Red Dirt Band, on Friday, Oct. 13 from 5 to 8 p.m. at Central Park. A public land celebration is that afternoon at 4:30 p.m. at the Somerset Wildlife Management Area. Due to limited parking on site, a shuttle bus will leave the fairgrounds at 3:45 p.m. and 4:10 p.m.
Artwork by Jim Killen and photographs by Sherry McCartney of pheasants will fill the Owatonna Arts Center (OAC) Oct. 8th through the 15th. Killen is an award-winning nature artist of many years. McCartney is new to the scene and making her OAC debut. The Steele County Historical Society is hosting a conservation exhibit through Oct. 31.
From the Heart and Soul Run is Saturday, Oct. 14, starting at Lake Kohlmier and featuring a half marathon, a 5K and a kids’ run. The Owatonna Parks and Recreation fall passport program will be ongoing at that time as well.
The local committee aims to feature local hunting and recreational activities. Go to www.visitowatonna.org/mngpho2023 for more information.
OwatonnaLive.com play-by-play schedule
Thursday, Sept. 28
OHS girls’ swim/dive vs. Winona, 6:30 p.m.
OHS boys’ soccer vs. Northfield, 7 p.m.
Friday, Sept. 29
OHS football vs. Century, Homecoming, 7 p.m. (simulcast on The FAN-Owatonna 106.3FM/1170AM)
Blooming Prairie football at Kenyon-Wanamingo, 7 p.m.
Medford football vs. NRHEG, 7 p.m.