Although synchronized swimming and clay target are both part of MSHSL, they have never been offered at Blake.
Josie Lagerstrom ‘18 decided to establish a synchronized swim team at Blake because she had been a part of the Edina team for two years. After moving to Blake, she wanted to create a team here. “Unfortunately when I moved to Blake, Edina didn’t let me be on [their] team anymore. Since I still wanted to do the sport, I thought to start it here,” comments Lagerstrom.
Michael Winkey ‘15 is starting a clay target team at Blake for similar reasons.
He states, “I’ve been shooting at Orono since eighth grade because I moved to Blake last year. I was captain of the team at Orono. I’m also using this as a senior program to [start] something at Blake that I enjoy.”
Winkey knows that many people aren’t familiar with the rules of clay target. He explains, “There’s a trap house in front of the shooters. Five people line up and each person shoots at the orange disk that’s shot in the air. There are five shots at each station for a total of 25 points. In competition, we go through 100 shots, so four boxes, but in practice you go through 50, so 2 boxes.”
Both Lagerstrom and Winkey assure that neither will be too demanding.
For synchronized swimming, Lagerstrom predicts that the team will meet three days a week for about an hour and a half at the Middle School pool.
For clay target, Wednesday is the only required practice day, although Winkey will hold practices throughout the week.
No prior experience is needed to join either team. Winkey states, “Most of the fun is working through [the sport] and learning how to do it.” He adds, “Each practice is like a regular season shoot, so your scores are recorded and sent to MSHSL. In the end there’s a state tournament and you compete for the best school in the conference.”
The athletic department wants to put its support where there’s a lot of interest. Nick Rathmann states, “We want to support everyone, no matter their interest. Clay target and synchronized swimming are both interesting sports because you don’t need very many participants [for a team]. We don’t want to detract from the other sports either.”
Although it’s great that Blake is open to creating new sports teams, Rathmann also cautions to having too many teams. “I think it’s good that we give kids a lot of options here, but I want to be careful about how many total we give. If synchronized swimming needed a team of 30 that would hurt another sport. For example, softball has had low numbers the past couple of years, but this year there’s a new coach and great players and the numbers are up this year.”
“We’re a very small school and we have 34 sports, [which is] more than Eden Prairie, and look at how small we are,” notes Rathmann.
“Last year, about 86% of the upper school participated in a spring sport and around 11% was in the school play. If you look at those numbers, that’s 97% of students doing something every day after school. That’s all we want, to be active and engaging.”
One of Blake athletic department’s goals is to create other sport offerings like yoga for students who need to fulfill the requirement but don’t want to sign up for a super high-commitment sport. Students can be active in a group and get their credit, but not have to be a star athlete.
Rathmann also had to take into consideration the safety requirements of the new sports, specifically clay target. He states, “In Minnesota, there have been zero injuries with clay target. Zero, all together. We really looked into the safety of this sport, especially where students would store their guns. No guns will be allowed in school at any time; they will be stored at the gun club.”
“If it works, we’ll continue with it, and if it doesn’t, we’ll try something else…” concludes Rathmann.