Norwood Young America's first state appearance brings suddenly shortened school year

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In Norwood-Young America, what the remarkable winter extended, a remarkable spring softball season has now shortened. It also brought a mix of drama and excitement.

The district’s school year was set to go through Friday, June 7, after adding four days that were lost to a rough winter. Then, the Central High girls softball team earned a birth to the state tournament, and a quick school calendar shuffle ensued.

“It’s huge because this is the first time our school’s ever made it this far and it’s just so exciting for us to be here,” senior Sadie Erickson said. And to make their first trip to state even more sweet, they had to beat the defending state champs, Maple Lake. "That was probably the best game I’ve ever played in my life!”

The Central High School Raiders, which combines Norwood-Young America, Cologne and Hamburg, play their first two games Thursday and Friday in North Mankato. With so many staff and students planning to attend, the final two days of school were going to be sparse.

"It’s a big deal, especially the first time in school history we’ve been able to make the state tournament,” said Joseph Kley, the team’s head coach. “We got an overwhelming number of people who wanted to come out and support us.”

On Monday, the school board decided that to make things easier, the school year would end on Wednesday. Naturally, this also made things harder in some cases, rescheduling end of year event like final exams and the elementary track and field day. But, they saw no better option.

On the last minute mayhem they’ve created and the great season that led to it all, senior Leah Crown called it “Crazy!"

"This has been almost a surreal experience..  but we made it and did what we wanted to do this year.. we accomplished our goal.”

 As far as any drama their single team had on altering an entire district’s calendar?  “Yeah, it’s fine,” she said. “People will get over it, it’s all good.”

The Raiders take on Esko at 9 a.m. Thursday.