by Theodore Tollefson The Hastings Raiders football team hosted their 12th annual golf fundraiser last Friday at Hastings Golf Course, welcoming in over 125 attendees to help raise money for the …
by Theodore Tollefson
The Hastings Raiders football team hosted their 12th annual golf fundraiser last Friday at Hastings Golf Course, welcoming in over 125 attendees to help raise money for the Raiders 2021 football season.
The Hastings Football Connections Boosters who run and organize the golf fundraiser have no official number on how much money was raised yet. However, they confirm that several thousand dollars were raised this year and say the 2021 golf fundraiser was one of their best years yet.
Jonathan Bleed, co-chair of the golf committee for HFC, spoke on his involvement with HFC, “I have three boys, my oldest son is a senior in the program and my youngest is in second grade. So we’re going to be here for a while. I really appreciate what being a part of the team teaches my kids and I think anything that I do to support a program that they can be involved in and is well worth the time.”
The fundraiser also held a remembrance event for 1992 Hastings High School graduate Matt Maher, who played for the Raiders football team during his time in high school. Maher passed away this year from brain cancer at the age of 48. As Maher’s go to beer was Bud Light throughout his life, all adult attendees at the fundraiser raised a Bud Light in Maher’s memory, toasting to the famous Bud Light slogan, “This Bud’s for you!”
The following day from the fundraiser, the Raiders played two scrimmage match ups against Bloomington Jefferson High School and Brooklyn Center High School. Although the Raiders do not play any regular season games against Brooklyn Center this year, the Raiders are set to play the Jefferson Jaguars on Thursday, October 14.
Raiders head coach, Dana Strain, spoke on the help of having practices returning to normal from this time last year and the hope it gives the team for a better 2021 season.
“I know they’re excited just about the fact that it is normal. The practices are better, the kids are able to do it like we traditionally would, where they’re able to roll in and out. That’s been a big part of things in the early going. The other thing, they haven’t gotten yet but they will, is having more fans in the stands. That’s a huge piece of it,” said Strain.
The Raiders football team has many students returning from last season for both their offensive and defensive squads. The large number of returning students has helped Strain and his coaching staff in having less time to worry about filling holes from last year’s graduates, and more time in building on every player’s strength in each practice.
“The other thing I do like about the team that I’ve noticed so far in the weeks of practice is whatever we ask them to do, they’re doing it. We asked him to concentrate on the first snap of each practice, because we’ve got to learn to start fast. They’ve had great attention to detail and great focus on trying to do the things that we ask them to work on. We’re not perfect in any of those in terms of execution, but the mental focus is there, and they’re trying to get better,” said Strain.
Tonight, the Raiders open the season against a team in which they have never played before in school history, Chanhassen High School. Even with promising signs in early practices and the scrimmages last Saturday, Strain admits there are still many unknowns when it comes to facing an entirely new opponent to start the season.
“It’s the first game which just means there’s a lot of unknowns. Chanhassen is not even a team that we really get tape on each year just randomly. So, you’ve got all the unknowns of what you’re going to look like on week one, plus, you’re facing a team that you just don’t have a lot of familiarity with, but we’re looking forward to it. They’re a great program. The first game of the year is a road game and so you get to experience that together with your kids, and you just don’t know how kids are going to respond to you till you actually do it,” said Strain.
Although the Raiders will begin their season on the road, Strain, his coaching staff and the players anticipate a great turnout from their visiting crowd in Chanhassen next Thursday. Currently the Minnesota State High School League does not have restrictions on crowd sizes at high school football events across the state for home and away teams.
“The whole community thing of the whole town coming out, the players missed that last year. It’s just very different when you get 150 parents on one side versus what you’re going to get us in these early season games. So, it’s just going to make it that big event that everybody loves about high school football,” said Strain on the importance of crowd size for everyone at high school football games.
The Raiders start their game against Chanhassen tonight at 7:00 p.m. at Chanhassen High School off of Lyman Boulevard in Chanhassen, MN. They return to McNamara Stadium next Thursday to host Apple Valley, also at 7:00 p.m.
A wonderful tribute was paid to former Raider Coach Matt Maher at the start of the Raider Football Golf Tournament. Andy Haas spoke about how Maher was a guy that had a positive influence on everyone he met. When Haas completed the story, he explained that everyone was given a Bud Light because that was Maher’s favorite beer. The crew did a quick toast before heading to their carts. Photo by Bruce Karnick