Vikings, including five starters, drive far to give back

Star Tribune Sports - Sat, 02/07/2015 - 13:06
It was a quiet Saturday morning at Sanford Hospital in Thief River Falls, a small town in Northwest Minnesota that’s about two hours closer to Winnipeg than it is to the Twin Cities, which is 300 miles away. But the sleepy eyes of staffers in scrubs opened wide when a trio of vans pulled up to the front door of the hospital and unloaded. Out of the vans stepped five Vikings players — all starters — along with about a dozen or so Vikings cheerleaders and Viktor the Viking, the team mascot who bounded through the doorway first. The appearance, part of a packed weekend for the team’s annual Arctic Blast weekend extravaganza, was not a surprise, at least not to hospital employees. But the presence of the players, cheerleaders and Zubaz-wearing mascot brought energy to the halls of the hospital and put smiles on the faces of the patients they visited. “People look up to us like we’re superheroes or some gods, like we’re special people. I think it’s important for us to come and show these people that we’re just like them,” wide receiver Charles Johnson said. “We’re no different. We just happen to have a job that some people think is glorious. I think we can come out here and connect with some people, have fun and bring some cheer to their town.” Johnson was joined by safety Harrison Smith, tight end Kyle Rudolph and offensive linemen Brandon Fusco and Phil Loadholt. Those guys could have been anywhere in the world today — like a sunny beach, perhaps — but they chose to be a part of the caravan that made the five-hour drive up to Thief River Falls yesterday. Today, for about an hour, they popped into the rooms of patients, posed for pictures and towered over autograph-seekers. “We’ve been blessed with an opportunity to do what we love and play a game that we love, so if we can visit with fans, visit a hospital, bring some joy to people, then why not?” Smith said. “We’ve got so much time on our hands, so why would we not do those things?” Added Fusco: “There is a special place in my heart for coming out here and seeing some of these guys and some kids. It’s always a good thing to put a smile on their faces and brighten up their day because they are going through a lot of things here in the hospital.” The hospital visit was one of many appearances for the Vikings this weekend. Last night, Vikings players, alumni, execs and cheerleaders participated in a charity exhibition game against Thief River Falls city officials and local business leaders. (Don’t worry, the active Vikings players stayed out of calamity’s way as referees.) Wide receiver Adam Thielen was at that event, but afterward he had to head home to Detroit Lakes for his own community event. This morning, Vikings alumni like Darrin Nelson, Henry Thomas and Bob Lurtsema greeted fans at their hotel. The active players visited the hospital. And there are a few more stops for the caravan later today before the Vikings help host a concert for a local band — something called Hairball — at Thief Falls Arena tonight. Arctic Blast concludes tomorrow with a prize party and giveaways. The event raises money for the Vikings Children’s Fund, but it also serves as an outreach event for the organization to connect with fans in the opposite corner of this sizable state. “We feel like we’re so fortunate in our lives to have the opportunities and the blessings that we have. And we want to reach all of our fans,” Rudolph said. “We have the best fan base in the country and the whole state of Minnesota is included in that. So we get to come up here and reach our fans in the farthest end of our state. … It’s kind of a no-brainer when you put all of those things together.” The folks inside the quiet halls of that hospital certainly felt the love this morning.
Categories: Local

Gophers pregame: Minnesota has competed with physical Purdue but lost the last two

Star Tribune Sports - Sat, 02/07/2015 - 12:07
The Boilermakers are 13-0 when they shoot more free throws than their opponent.
Categories: Local

A sportswriter weeps for old friend Radio Shack

Star Tribune Sports - Sat, 02/07/2015 - 07:36
There is no debate. The TRS-80 Model 200 was the greatest traveling computer in the history of the American press box.
Categories: Local

Freshman guard Mason arrived at U ready right away

Star Tribune Sports - Fri, 02/06/2015 - 22:31
The Gophers guard has gone from an unheralded recruit to one of the Big Ten’s best freshmen.
Categories: Local

UND women's hockey upsets No. 2 Gophers

Star Tribune Sports - Fri, 02/06/2015 - 22:17
Categories: Local

College Basketball Insider: Hawkeyes love to keep us guessing

Star Tribune Sports - Fri, 02/06/2015 - 22:12
Is Iowa a contender or an inconsistent mess?
Categories: Local

With his dad at peace, Parise scoring more for Wild

Star Tribune Sports - Fri, 02/06/2015 - 21:56
Zach Parise has seven goals since Jan. 15, which was eight days after his father’s death.
Categories: Local

Vonn turns best event into a fifth-place finish

Star Tribune Sports - Fri, 02/06/2015 - 21:43
A downhill run that she called good but not great left Tina Maze a winner.
Categories: Local

Rubio sparks late Wolves run to top Memphis 90-89

Star Tribune Sports - Fri, 02/06/2015 - 21:38
The point guard returned after limping to the locker room and scored the final five points.
Categories: Local

U's athletics project start date could be delayed

Star Tribune Sports - Fri, 02/06/2015 - 21:32
If construction is to begin on the athletics village this fall, the fundraising pace must pick up. University CFO Richard Pfutzenreuter said it's a, "big hill to climb."
Categories: Local

Scoggins: Misbehavior tests NFL fan base, but we keep watching

Star Tribune Sports - Fri, 02/06/2015 - 20:36
Players’ legal problems and inept decisions in the league office haven’t hurt popularity.
Categories: Local

Wolves re-sign Lorenzo Brown, meet Memphis

Star Tribune Sports - Fri, 02/06/2015 - 18:32
Wolves sign backup point guard Brown to a second 10-day contract
Categories: Local

Pregame: Gophers need to survive bottom of Big Ten if they want to catch Michigan

Star Tribune Sports - Fri, 02/06/2015 - 17:39
The Gophers struggled to get by last-place Wisconsin last weekend on the road, and now fifth-place Ohio State is up before a showdown with first-place Michigan.
Categories: Local

U announces $6 million gift toward Gophers athletics from Robert Eddy

Star Tribune Sports - Fri, 02/06/2015 - 17:10
The Gophers have now raised $65 million toward their $190 athletics facilities plan.
Categories: Local

Eliason turns around attitude; gets back in Pitino's rotation

Star Tribune Sports - Fri, 02/06/2015 - 15:11
Pitino said he respected the fifth-year senior's work in practice. Meanwhile, Eliason acknowledged that it was difficult to see his minutes reduced and he's fought to get them back.
Categories: Local

Matt Cooke undergoes surgery for sports hernia; Dubnyk discusses his laid-back manner

Star Tribune Sports - Fri, 02/06/2015 - 14:24
The Wild's Matt Cooke will miss five to six weeks, which is better than expected, and Mike Yeo said he plans to go with the same lineup when the Wild goes for its fifth straight win Saturday.
Categories: Local


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