In Response: Letter inaccurately depicted Superior student-athlete

After reading the Feb. 20 letter, "Photo seemed typical of Superior players," I started to think back to the more than 200 softball, basketball, football, baseball, and hockey events I have had the privilege to watch at Superior High School over ...

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Denfeld’s 1947 boys basketball team is the only Denfeld basketball team to win a state title. The team’s head coach was Lloyd Holm. Team members were Rudy Monson, Larry Tessier, Paul Nace, Kenneth Sunnarborg, Eugene Norlander, Howard Tucker, Tony Skull, Jerry Walczak, Bruce Budge, Keith Stolen and student manager Bob Scott.

After reading the Feb. 20 letter, " Photo seemed typical of Superior players ," I started to think back to the more than 200 softball, basketball, football, baseball, and hockey events I have had the privilege to watch at Superior High School over the past 10 years. I was dumbfounded reading that letter because I never have seen the suggestions it made during any of the sporting events I attended. I am not ignorant of some trash-talking on the field or ice, but I know that goes both ways 99 percent of the time.

So, for the letter to suggest that "Superior players always ... want to hurt their opponent" was totally outlandish.

The letter also asked what kind of penalty a Superior hockey player depicted in a News Tribune photo received. "I hope he was ordered to hang up his skates," the letter said. From the photo, though, you can't tell how the players even ended up in the position they were in. Viewers have no clue if they both fell to the ice and the Superior player ended up on top as they were scraping for a puck that's right next to them.

The letter also said the Superior player's facial expression in the newspaper photo was "scary." I can see how one could come to that determination. But, understanding sports, I can come to the assumption that the player's face was the result of bracing for a fall with his eyes looking for the puck. Ultimately, that is the game. It also seems very likely the intensity of the game was being reflected on the player's face.

I have had the pleasure of knowing the Superior player in the photo since grade school. He and my daughter are in the same grade. You won't meet a more genuine, kind, polite kid than him. The letter's negative assumptions about him, based on a picture in the newspaper, were so grossly in error.


I challenge the writer of the letter to figure out a way to meet him sometime. If she did, she would find that he spent the last two years in the Douglas County Youth Leadership Program, was named the team captain of every varsity sport he played this year, and, for his senior project this year, played a key role in the new "Skates for Superior" program. The program provided skates to anyone who couldn't afford them.

I know the intensity of sporting events is very high these days, and the looks on kids' faces might be deceiving. But I have never met a student-athlete yet at Superior who wanted to intentionally hurt anyone. And I can guarantee, with this player, that is not the story. I know for a fact that is not the legacy he will leave Superior High School.


Joe Stariha of Duluth has two daughters who attend school in Superior. He has been involved for many years coaching youth softball and basketball in Superior.

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