Mike Hebert Passes
I remember attending the news conference back in 1996 to announce that the University of Minnesota had hired a guy by the name of Mike Hebert to take over the Gopher volleyball program.
I remember being shocked me to hear that the Gophers had given Hebert a 5-year contract with a base salary of $86,300, an annual media income of $10,000 and two payments of $9,500 each, bringing Hebert’s compensation to over $100,000, not counting money to be made on camps.
I thought it was folly that then Women’s Athletic Director Chris Voelz would pay that much for the coach of a non-revenue sport. Looking back, it’s easy to see just how wrong I was.
In 15 years with the Gopher program, Mike Hebert took his team to the NCAA Tournament fourteen times, made eight NCAA Regional Trips, appeared in three Final Fours, including two back-to-back, and earned Big-10 Coach of the Year Honors five times.
In posting a record of 381 wins against 137 losses, Hebert produced 17 All-Americans and turned Gopher Volleyball into a sport that played to sold-out crowds at the sports pavilion.
The records show what a great value Hebert turned out to be, and the testimonials regarding the news of his passing show that as good of a coach Mike Hebert was, he was an even better person.
Never boastful or clamoring for the spotlight, Hebert was the consummate teacher. He turned the University of Minnesota Women’s Volleyball Program into one of the best in the country, and when he walked away due to issues stemming from Parkinson’s disease, there was no outward signs of self-pity.
Mike Hebert left the U of M exactly the same way he arrived, with class and dignity, which is exactly how he’ll be remembered. Thank you Mike, it was an honor to know you, job well done.
Story Calls Out U.S. Men’s Soccer
While the history of struggle surrounding the U.S. Men’s National Soccer Team is well-documented, there is a recent story in The Nation that alleges that U.S Soccer has ignored Hispanic players, coaches and scouts for years, and that the diversity issue reaches the highest levels of the organization.
The story quotes a study that was never published, but has been quoted as saying that for the past twenty years players were most likely to come from higher-income white families than top American basketball and football players from the same period.
Another study shows that in 2018 only 7 percent of MLS players were U.S. born Latinos and 11 percent are U.S. born black players, while about 38 percent of the league’s players aren’t eligible to play for the USMNT.
The most damning claim of the article is that “American soccer scouts, coaches and officials neglect youth clubs and leagues not affiliated with U.S. Soccer. Instead USMNT recruiters focus their effort on exclusive development academies and pay-to-play youth soccer clubs and leagues, which are more likely to have white, higher income players.”
Everyone keeps asking why the U.S. can’t produce top men’s soccer talent? Maybe the better question is, “Are we recognizing all of the talent we are producing?”
Paulsen is One of the greatest
Last week the Edina Girls Tennis Team won the Class 2A State Championship. The win isn’t surprising as the Edina Hornets almost always win the 2A State Championship, at least that’s how it seems.
Paulsen served 28 years on the job, gained 23 state titles, including 19 in a row at one point, experienced 608 career victories and remains one of the greatest dynasties in Minnesota prep sports history.
Say what you want about Edina having built-in advantages. I’d say Edina built those advantages behind the best coach in the game, not to mention one of the best coaches in any sport that we’ve ever had the honor of watching.
My hope is that Paulsen uses his extra time to write a book. My gut tells me that we can all learn something from a coach who built a culture of success that spanned almost three decades.
This was it. After 28 years, after 23 state titles, including 19 in a row, after 608 victories, Paulsen was calling it quits.
“It did hit me,” Paulsen admitted. “As you could see, I’ve been pretty emotional, but I also wanted to take it all in. There was a lot of lasts this year. Last practice, last outdoor practice, last match. Even today, when we weren’t playing, I sat on the side and tried to take it all in.”