Not Eudora   By Harry Welty
Published April 30, 2004

One last Randolph Column


A while back the News Tribune ran a story about Mike Randolph. An accompanying picture showed him standing on the ice looking disheveled and forlorn. Mike, who had been reduced to turning his son’s bantam team into a substitute for Greyhound hockey, said his only desire was to get another crack at coaching high school hockey. Any Duluth team would do.


Last fall, I suggested to Mike that if he was willing to coach a different high school team he might be able to stay on as a coach. Mike was so confident of resuming his East coaching duties that my suggestion became a joke among his buddies. My suggestion wasn’t just a political deal. I thought Mike could help heal a divided city. Over the past fifteen years eastern Duluth , under the gravitational pull of Mike’s Greyhound hockey program, had managed to starve amateur hockey in western Duluth . I thought Mike’s return to a western high school could give a boost to city-wide hockey.


Well, Mike just got his old job back. I wish him well both for his sake and more importantly for the sake of the boys under his charge. I’ll still need two Christmas wreaths next year. Big ones!


Since the only thing anyone will remember about my eight years on the school board will have to do with East hockey I figure Mike’s reinstatement calls for one more column on the subject.


I was ready to step off the school board last year. In fact, I’d been searching for a replacement for well over two years. The only reason I filed again was because an old nemesis of mine was planning to run for my seat. When that didn’t happen, the only thing that kept me in the race was a desire to see an excess-levy pass. Being a candidate gave me a platform to support a levy.


I’ll confess that the East Hockey fans who had threatened to dump me at the polls kept my juices flowing. I’m stubborn enough to resist being pushed out the door. Some of Randolph ’s fans were downright nasty. I particularly resented the vicious whisper campaign they launched against Bob Mars. Some of their rumors were truly asinine.


The only thing that appealed to me about campaigning was the prospect of going door to door. Duluth is a beautiful city and I looked forward to the beautiful vistas and the exercise. I didn’t campaign. I lost. Thank goodness!


I would have said something right away when the Randolph issue reared its head again a couple weeks ago but I was dissuaded from doing so. The same East Hockey sources who told me bad things about Randolph last year called to tell me that Wentworth was a disaster too. They said his team’s third place showing at State was a fluke. I figured hockey was beyond redemption and washed my hand of it but not before passing on the criticisms of Wentworth to the School Administration. I figured that if Wentworth wasn’t fit to coach I could warn our administrators so that they wouldn’t fall on their swords to save him. It didn’t take long for me to feel bad about ratting out Wentworth. I spent nine hours last year talking to Randolph about the charges leveled against him. I figured that the least I could do was tell Wentworth how I had undermined him and give him a chance to defend himself.  After two hours with Todd all my concerns evaporated.


So, I wrote a letter-to-the-editor defending Wentworth and reaffirming my decision to retire Randolph . My letter was very tough on the new school board.


The morning before the School Board was set to reinstate Randolph I sent an email to my friend, Mary Cameron. I told Mary that, notwithstanding my letter-to the-editor, she should do whatever she felt she had to do. I told her that while I disagreed with her I was not mad at her. Mary emailed back grateful to know that I wasn’t taking her decision personally.


I didn’t watch the lopsided fight to reinstate Mike on television but I got two calls about it before the meeting was over. Ironically, my letter-to-the-editor was hurled at the Board during the debate by the very person I had prevented from replacing me. Strange bedfellows indeed!


I’ll be damned if I’ll let a political disagreement, even one involving hockey, ruin a friendship. I called up my old buddy Tim Grover before the ten o’clock news. He’s back on the Board now and he also voted wrong. I had planned to call him anyway to offer him tickets that my wife and I couldn’t use. He picked up his phone and said a very cautious “Hehhhllloooo?” You’d have thought I was an armed intruder. “You and your damned caller ID,” I laughed.


Tim was probably expecting a tongue lashing. Instead we had a cordial chat, and he gladly accepted my tickets. We hung up and hurried to our TV’s. We both wanted to see how the hockey reinstatement played on the ten o’clock news.


Welty is a small time political has-been who lets it all hang out at: www.snowbizz.com


and, of course, more Mike Randolph stuff