Notebook: Eagan youth coach up for national award

Carrie Berran, basketball president of the Eagan Athletic Association, is one of eight semifinalists for the inaugural Junior NBA Coach of the Year award.

Berran is the only female semifinalist. In addition to coaching, she supervises in-house and traveling basketball programs for approximately 1,000 players and serves on the EAA finance committee. Berran, a mother of four and a human resources professional, is a graduate of LaSalle University, where she played Division I college basketball.

Each NBA team nominated a youth coach from its market for the award, which recognizes dedication and influence in local youth basketball.

Three finalists will be selected through a vote taking place on Twitter through May 22. To vote for Berran, tweet or retweet with the hashtag #JrNBACOYMIN. The finalists will receive grants to support their local youth basketball organizations as well as benefits such as free Positive Coaching Alliance training. The winner will be announced at the NBA Awards Show on June 26.

Wrestling coaches honored

Former Apple Valley High School coach Bill Demaray was inducted into the Minnesota chapter of the National Wrestling Hall of Fame at a banquet last month in Austin.

Demaray started the AVHS program when the school opened in 1976 and is one of only three head wrestling coaches in school history. He served as head coach until 1995 and his teams won six state championships and had 18 individual state champions. After being away from the program for a year, he returned as an assistant to his successor, Jim Jackson, remaining in that job until 2012.

Apple Valley resident Jeff Becker recently was named Wrestling USA Magazine 2017 Assistant Coach of the Year. Becker was a longtime assistant to Scot Davis at Owatonna High School (1990-2011) and Eden Prairie (2013-2016). Owatonna won state championships in 1998 and 2005 and was ranked in the top 10 nationally both those years.

Becker was the first undefeated state champion at St. Michael-Albertville High School and later was a national runner-up and three-time national qualifier at Augustana University.

Schmitz wins Minnesota Golf Champions

Farmington native Sammy Schmitz picked up in 2017 where he left off in 2016 – by winning golf tournaments. Schmitz, the Minnesota Golf Association Player of the Year five of the last six years, took first in the Minnesota Golf Champions tournament last weekend in White Bear Lake.

Schmitz is the first amateur since 2005 to win the Minnesota Golf Champions, which brings together many of the state’s top professionals and amateurs. He finished the 54-hole tourney at 8-under par and was the only player to break par in all three rounds. He won by six strokes over Ben Greve, the defending Minnesota State Open champion and a former University of Minnesota player.

“This is a big deal for me; I really wanted to win this tournament,” Schmitz told the MGA’s Nick Hunter. “From an amateur standpoint, this is a tough tournament to get into. There aren’t many exemptions to get into it.”

Last year Schmitz won the MGA Mid-Amateur and was on the winning team in the Minnesota Public Golf Association Four-Ball and Combination tournaments. He was on the second-place team in the MGA Four-Ball. Schmitz also reached the round of 16 in the U.S. Mid-Amateur, a tournament in which he was defending champion. It was his victory in the 2015 U.S. Mid-Amateur that earned him an invitation to the 2016 Masters.

MSHSL allows more wrestling matches

Wrestling season will be extended as a result of one of five bylaw changes approved Monday by the Minnesota State High School League representative assembly.

Teams now will be able to schedule 18 regular-season event dates, up from 16. Individuals now can wrestle as many as 45 regular-season matches; the previous maximum was 36.

The MSHSL representative assembly also approved an organized five-day conditioning period for baseball before the traditional start of practice in March. Baseballs, gloves and catcher’s equipment will be allowed during the conditioning period, but teams will not be allowed to hit. Use of strength training and aerobic equipment also will be allowed.

Students also will be allowed to participate in college sports tryouts or auditions for scholarships during the sports season. Previously, students had to wait until their seasons were over before going to college tryouts.

All bylaw changes will be in effect in the 2017-18 school year.