Council lauds U athletes, coaches

Hank Long

Minneapolis City Council member Paul Zerby, 2nd Ward, led a chorus of city officials and several University student-athletes and coaches Friday in the “Minnesota Rouser” in the council chambers.

Zerby – who represents areas surrounding the University’s Minneapolis area – authored a resolution, which the council unanimously passed, to designate April 30 University of Minnesota Student-Athlete Day.

Zerby said he wants to honor student-athletes who have excelled in their sports this year.

“There are two parts to the term student-athlete – student and athlete,” he said. “And I think the people here exemplify that.”

Wrestler Damion Hahn and women’s hockey players Jody Horak and Krista Johnson were present to hear the reading of the resolution.

The resolution specifically honors women’s basketball and volleyball for making it to their respective Final Four tournaments, women’s hockey for winning the NCAA Championship and Hahn for winning the NCAA Wrestling Championship in the 197-pound weight class.

“We just wanted to take this opportunity this morning to let you know how proud we are that you represented our state and our city,” Council member Paul Ostrow, 1st Ward, told the student-athletes. “Your home city is Minneapolis, and we have great pride in that.”

Hahn said it was an honor to meet the City Council.

“I think it’s a huge deal,” he said. “(The City Council members) are taking the time just to recognize us.”

Women’s basketball coach Pam Borton, women’s hockey coach Laura Halldorson, volleyball coach Mike Hebert and wrestling coach J Robinson represented their respective honored teams.

Athletics Director Joel Maturi was also on hand. He said having a day named after University student-athletes shows how far the athletics program has come in recent years, despite some criticism.

“(The honor) reaffirms who we are and where we are trying to be,” Maturi said about the program’s progress. “We are doing everything we can to rectify it.

“When you look at the big picture, this athletics program is going in the right direction,” he said.

Horak, starting goalie for the women’s hockey team that won the NCAA Championship in March, said she had never been to City Hall before Friday, but that it was nice to meet city representatives.

She said she was impressed that many of the council members knew the words to the “Minnesota Rouser.”

“I don’t even know some of the words,” Horak said.