Wolves work around school construction

by Tom Coombe
The lights unexpectedly went out around 3 p.m. Wednesday at Ely High School.
So the Ely Timberwolves decided to improvise.
With the gymnasium too dark to practice as a result of an unannounced power outage - as work continued on the school’s $20 million-plus renovation project - members of the high school volleyball team headed across town to Semers Park.
Beach volleyball it was, at least for a day, for head coach Megan Wognum and her Timberwolves.
That was just one notable happening this week as fall sports teams began their preparations for their upcoming season
Volleyball, football, boys and girls cross country and girls swimming all got underway Monday, with season-opening events in all activities on the horizon.
Ely’s volleyball team, which went 21-7 last fall and got to the section semifinals, will board a bus early Saturday morning for Hibbing, the site of a scrimmage involving numerous other northeastern Minnesota teams.
The Wolves also go to Silver Bay Thursday for a scrimmage, and open the regular season Aug. 30 at Northeast Range. The home opener is slated for Tuesday, Sept. 6 against Littlefork-Big Falls.
With much of the school campus torn up because of construction, the volleyball players have had to find a path to the high school for practice this week.
They made the most of their “lights out” moment on Wednesday - using it as a team-building exercise of sorts with the impromptu outdoor practice at Semers.
Afterward, they enjoyed pizza and watermelon.
The ongoing construction has also made it difficult for the football team, under the direction of second-year head coach Louie Gerzin.
Part of the Wolves’ practice field is not usable because of the construction, and there’s currently no access to the stadium.
Players and coaches are getting to the field on the arena side of the school campus as they begin to get ready for the upcoming scrimmage as well as the season-opener with Cromwell.
Presuming the field is available, the game will take place on Friday, Sept. 9, at 2 p.m. at Ely School Stadium.
The rare Friday afternoon tilt is scheduled to ensure that officials are available for the game.
About 25 players in grades 9-12 took part in workouts this week, including several from neighboring Northeast Range in Babbitt. The two schools are in the second year of a cooperative agreement for football.
Ely will play a 9-man schedule during the regular season, but the Wolves are classified as an 11-man team because of school enrollment and must play in the 11-man, Section 7A tournament during the postseason.
The school construction hasn’t been as limiting to the other Timberwolves teams.
Cross country practice started Monday and head coach Jayne Dusich welcomed nearly 50 athletes between the boys and girls teams.
The Wolves open at Virginia at the end of the month.
Over in Babbitt, the swimming pool is filled with Ely students.
Nearly all of the swimmers on the combined Northeast Range/Ely team come from Ely.
They are led by head coach Cheri DeBeltz, who is prepping the team for a relay event later this week as well as an Aug. 30 dual meet at International Falls.