Booster Club to induct Hall of Fame members

Brent Kohn has been a fixture on the golf course, where he coaches Kingsland students.
By : 
Gretchen Mensink Lovejoy
Spring Valley Tribune

“We hold the KABC Hall of Fame banquet as a fundraiser, but more importantly, to honor our new Hall of Fame inductees.  It also gives the community an opportunity to come together, not only for a social event, but to do good things for our school and community,” stated Kingsland Athletic Booster Club (KABC) member Kammy Fenske.

The upcoming KABC banquet and induction ceremony will honor Kingsland coach Brent Kohn and former Spring Valley High School physical education instructor and sports coach Cindy Herr on Saturday, April 6, at the Five Wynds Event Center in Spring Valley. 

Speakers presenting at the banquet include KABC members and Kingsland staff, as well as friends and members of the inductees’ families. KABC President Leslie Schmidt and Kingsland teacher and avid KABC supporter Stephanie Derby will co-MC this year’s banquet, said Fenske, but most of the entertainment will come from the guest speakers – Laurie Hendrickson speaking on behalf of Cindy Herr and Sarah Kohn speaking on behalf of Brent Kohn. The recipients of the awards will also speak.

Nomination process

The Hall of Famers are nominated by other individuals who feel they are deserving of this award, and then there is an application process.  KABC board members vote on the applications. 

Cindy Herr was chosen for her coaching excellence in girls’ athletic programs at Spring Valley High School. 

“She helped put the SVHS girls’ volleyball, basketball and track programs on the map in the 1970s and 1980s,” Fenske said. “Cindy’s dedication and fierce competitiveness was shown through her players.  She had several state tournament teams, as well as numerous conference and district championship teams.  She also coached several individual track participants.  She was a great coach and mentor.  Cindy coached three sports, all while teaching full time at SVHS.” 

Kohn was chosen for his dedication and passion to the Kingsland golf program, of which he is starting his 18th year this spring as the head golf coach.  He has coached several state individual golf competitors. In 2018, the golf team went to state.

“Coach Kohn is well respected by his athletes,” Fenske said. “He prides himself in making the game of golf enjoyable, as well as teaching the aspects of the sport.”

Kohn has also coached softball, refereed junior high basketball games consistently for the past 20 years and has been a sportscaster for KING 11 and KFIL Radio. 

Herr a pioneer in girls’ sports

Herr began teaching at Spring Valley High School in 1972. She originally considered a career in teaching English, but having always been interested in numerous sports, she changed her mind to triple-major in physical education, health and recreation at Moorhead State. Her first year of teaching was in Baudette, Minnesota.  It was quite an experience, she noted, as it snowed on the very first football game in September. She decided that that was enough, and went back to school to get her master’s degree.  In college, she played volleyball, field hockey, basketball and was also in track.  She also played semi-professional softball for about eight years in North Dakota. 

“I liked the competitive nature of it,” Herr said.

She felt that girls certainly should be given the same opportunities as boys, and with the arrival of Title IX, that legislation leveled the field and made way for girls to excel and build teams that won tournaments and went to state. 

“When I came to Spring Valley, they were just getting started with state girls’ athletics…I met with other schools in our conference and made a push for the Minnesota State High School League’s coaches’ association for girls’ athletics, and it kind of went from there,” she said. “The girls were more like family than anything — I was blessed with really good athletes and very supportive parents.  It was about instilling the love of the game.” 

She recounted that her two decades in the classroom and the gym were as rewarding as her time coaching students on the courts and fields. 

“I loved teaching.  I really enjoyed the kids, and I think one of the greatest compliments I ever got was when one of my student athletes graduated and came up to me with her diploma.  She said, ‘I’m the first member of my family to graduate, and likely the only member of my family who’s going to, and if it hadn’t been for you, it wouldn’t have happened.’  All of my students started off with a B in my classes because if you didn’t know how to do something, how could you do well at it right away?  It’s like I didn’t know how to do art.  The important thing is that they understood the game if they watched it, like watching the Olympics – if they watched that and understood the game, it would make it more enjoyable to watch,” she said.                  

Herr left teaching after she departed Spring Valley, moving first to Hutchinson, Minnesota, in the Twin Cities metro area and then to Henning, Minnesota, two years ago.  She looks forward to returning to Spring Valley for the induction and banquet. 

“I’m really honored to be nominated for the hall of fame, and hopefully more women will be in the future,” Herr said. “It’s going to be fun to see some of my athletes and a lot of the parents of my former student athletes.  It will be fun to reminisce with them and catch up.” 

Kohn always been avid golfer

Kohn is originally from Ostrander and is a LeRoy-Ostrander High School graduate. He has lived in Spring Valley for the past 25 years as his wife, Sarah, is originally from Spring Valley, and they moved back to this area when their son, Gabe, was 2 years old.  His full-time job is the maintenance superintendent for the Fillmore County Highway Department. 

“I started being active in Kingsland school sports while working with KING 11, helping Steve Tammel coach fastpitch softball and refereeing basketball and football,” he said. “I have also been the public address announcer for Kingsland football.” 

He has coached boys’ and girls’ varsity golf for the past 17 seasons and is beginning his 18th as the snow melts away.  He had some experience coaching high school and college girls’ softball, and since he has golfed since he was 10 years old, he thought that would be something he would enjoy. 

There have been challenges and rewards to coaching students, as he has come to truly enjoy golf as much as he thought he might. 

“Golf is a mentally challenging sport.  This can be difficult with adults, let alone young students.  Although it is a team sport, it is truly an individual endeavor.  There are no handoffs, passes or assists.  It’s all you!  If you hit a shot you’re not happy with, you have a long time to think about that shot while walking to the next hole,” he said. “In a game like basketball or volleyball, the game is so fast-paced that you have little opportunity to sit and think about a mistake you may have made. 

“That leads me to my next challenge – the actual technique of coaching. There is not one technique that fits everyone’s swing.  No one is the same.  A swing can depend on height, flexibility, coordination, strength, concentration, and the list could go on and on.  To try and help each individual athlete with swinging their driver, pitching wedge or putter can be a challenge.  I don’t think that it was well known, but when I started coaching golf, golf coaches were not allowed to ‘coach’ on the course.  Coaches could not speak to their players while they were playing a hole.  That was a challenge, and it was a challenge to get the athletes used to me actually coaching them when the rule changed.”    

He listed other challenges, including mushy greens and traveling to courses that don’t belong to the school district. 

“Spring is a difficult time for any outdoor sport.  Although I did it myself when I was a student athlete, it is not fun carrying a bag of clubs around nine holes for an average of two hours in mud, sleet, wind, rain and heat.  Occasionally, there is a beautiful afternoon,” Kohn said. “And having your sport at a facility not owned by the school has its challenges on its own.  Transporting athletes to practices at a facility that’s not our district’s is very challenging and will continue to be as we move to a new golf course this year.  The past few years have been touch and go with a viable golf course.  I often didn’t know if we would have a golf course until close to the beginning of practices in March.” 

He counts taking students to state tournaments as his greatest accomplishment in coaching.  He attended the Minnesota State High School League tournament with four individual players one year, but topped that by taking a team in 2018. 

“I’ve enjoyed every year I’ve coached, whether we had high expectations or a rebuilding year.  I have been to many of the KABC Hall of Fame banquets and am truly honored to have my name alongside the past inductees,” he said. “It’s always fun to see familiar faces with any of the Kingsland Booster Club activities, and I’m honored that I was nominated.  It certainly wasn’t expected, and I’m not sure it is deserved.” 

KABC pays it forward

Fenske highlighted that KABC’s mission is to support the needs of Kingsland athletic teams, and that the projects toward which it has contributed make a difference in students’ opportunities to explore Kingsland sporting teams.  The group helps complete the wish lists that coaches provide to KABC. Some of the activities are providing Gatorade for all athletes for away games, hosting the kickoff meal at the beginning of the school year and the sports banquet at the end of each sport season for our athletes.  The group also gives scholarships to qualifying graduating seniors, have paid for scoreboards and a PA system for gyms, stage extensions and park and rec football equipment. 

“Our purpose is to support our school and athletic department,” she said.

Currently, the organization’s focus is on junior high sport teams’ requests.  KABC is enhancing the facilities in the secondary gym and installing bleachers needed for parents and fans to support junior high events. 

“It is always rewarding to be able to help the school and community.  It is the KABC’s way of paying it forward.  It is our central purpose and function to help fill the needs for our student athletes,” Fenske said. “There are always going to be up and down years in athletics, but no matter what, we always have to remember these, our young student athletes, that need the support of the community.  KABC’s mission is to support Kingsland athletes and coaches.  There is no bigger support system than your communities.”

Typically, KABC relies upon charitable gambling operations to uphold its financial commitments, but the banquet serves as a booster for the booster club. 

“One thing with gambling, however, is it is never guaranteed, so we need to always make sure we only spend the funds we have,” she said. “We continue to hold this fundraiser not only to acknowledge our Hall of Famers, but the money raised from it, we put towards a project the school has been needing help with.  We invite all Spring Valley, Wykoff and Kingsland alumni to become members of KABC.  The cost of membership is only $15 per family per year.  It would be great to see you all at the Hall of Fame dinner and auction.”

The evening’s events include a meal catered by Ody’s, desserts by Some Like It Hot, and a bar set up by Rack’s Bar & Grill.  There will be a fundraising auction by Dick Schwade and Kevin Grabau of Spring Valley Sales Company, and a comedy show by Todd Andrews.  There is a change in venue this year, as the banquet will take place at Five Wynds Event Center.  Tickets are $25 per person that includes the meal and entertainment. 

The event starts at 5:30 p.m. for a social hour, with dinner at 6 p.m., the induction ceremony at 6:45 p.m., the auction at 7:30 p.m. and entertainment following the auction. 

“Anyone is welcome to attend – anyone who loves and supports this community and our Kingsland School District,” Fenske said. “In the Kingsland community, we all need to work together to make our school and community successful, and this is just KABC’s way of bringing everyone together and showing what a great support system we have.”