Sports

Fri
27
Aug

Football programs merge

by Nick Wognum
There will be no “Friday Night Lights” in Babbitt this fall, but an 11th-hour development will clear the way for Northeast Range students to play football this year nonetheless.
The Nighthawks’ season was suspended last week because of “drastically low numbers,” according to Northeast Range athletic director Aaron Donais.
Yet those Northeast Range athletes looking for a place to play have found one 15 minutes down the road from Babbitt.
With the blessing of the Minnesota State High School League as well as conference opponents, Ely and Northeast Range took steps early this week toward approval of a cooperative agreement.
It would allow Northeast Range athletes to suit up for the Ely Timberwolves, and as many as nine were expected to attend an Ely practice Wednesday.
“We’re making the best of what was a difficult situation,” said Donais. “And we’re looking forward to what this opportunity has to offer.”

Fri
20
Aug

VCC players get familiar with Ely, each other, in training camp

by Tom Coombe
They come from differing backgrounds, divergent academic interests and various states.
They share some goals but their experiences vary.
Some are seeing Ely for the first time while others have been here before.
Yet over the course of a month, they’re coming together with a common purpose: to return Vermilion Community College football to its former glory.
Since early-August, roughly 50 players have practiced together and competed against each other as the Ironmen return to the gridiron this fall for the first time in two seasons with a new coaching staff and an almost entirely new roster.
Terrence Isaac, a star receiver for the Vermilion on a pair of state championship team in the mid-1990s, has returned to Ely as the Ironmen’s new head coach.
He has already made a difference, according to a player who was on campus a year ago.

Fri
13
Aug

High school sports season arrives as practices resume

by Tom Coombe
After a disjointed, delayed and ultimately interrupted 2020 season, high school fall sports are back and it’s largely a “return to normal” this week all across Minnesota.
Monday, practices begin for high school fall sports teams in Ely and elsewhere in the state.
The workouts begin in preparation for contests at the end of the month as high school volleyball, football, boys and girls cross country and girls swimming begin.
It’s a more familiar routine this year after a 2020 season that was marred by the Covid-19 pandemic.
While cross country and swimming seasons began and finished on time, both sports were conducted amid a series of Covid-related protocols that included attendance restrictions indoors for swimming events.

Fri
06
Aug

Ely sweep in snowmobile watercross

ELY SWEEP in the snowmobile watercross in Lake Linden, Michigan with Chris Erzar taking first place, Nick Mattila in second and Kael Richards in third.
The Ely Watercross Races are Aug. 14-15 at the Winton Longbranch Event Center on Fall Lake.
In addition to drag and oval racing there will be a new Lemans obstacle course with a jump. Racing starts at 10 a.m. both days.

Fri
06
Aug

VCC standout back in new role

by Tom Coombe
A roundabout journey has come full circle for Terrence Isaac.
Just after a quarter-century after Isaac came to Ely for the first time and started what turned out to be a storied football career at Vermilion Commuity College, he has returned as the program’s head coach.
Earlier this week, Isaac and his staff welcomed about 55 Vermilion players to campus as practices began in preparation for an Aug. 28 season-opener against perennial powerhouse Rochester.
It also was a homecoming of sorts for the Cleveland native, who moved north from Louisiana, where he was coaching high school football, for the chance to lead the Ironmen.
“When this opportunity presented itself, I couldn’t pass it up,” Isaac said Tuesday.
Those who followed Vermilion during the 1990s, when the program captured three state titles and a slew of playoff berths, are likely to remember Isaac, a star wide receiver on state championship teams in both 1995 and 1996.

Fri
30
Jul

Junior Legion falls in extras

by Tom Coombe
Ely’s Junior Legion baseball team had Virginia on the ropes but couldn’t deliver the knockout punch in its quest for a playoff upset.
One strike away from winning in the bottom of the seventh, Post 248 was unable to close it out as Virginia rallied to score the tying run, then added a run in the bottom of the eighth to pull out a 6-5 win at Veterans Memorial Field.
A big crowd at the local ballpark, including many who came out for the Veterans Night tribute, cheered the sixth-seeded host team on as it looked to knock off number-three Virginia.
A three-run double in the top of the second inning gave Ely a 3-0 lead, but Virginia scrapped back and eventually led 4-3.
Post 248 misfired on some scoring chances, but came through in the top of the seventh.
Preston Hines delivered the key blow, a two-out, two-run single to right that put Ely up 5-4.

Fri
23
Jul

Gerzin new Ely football coach

by Tom Coombe
It wasn’t all that long ago, that Louie Gerzin was wearing an Ely football uniform and chewing up yards as an all-area running back and leading the Timberwolves to a pair of state tournament appearances.
Gerzin will be back on the gridiron this fall, again in Ely red and white, but in an entirely different role.
The 2014 Ely graduate has been named interim head coach of the high school football program for the 2021 sesason.
Gerzin, who was formally hired by the Ely School Board earlier this month, takes over for Cory Lassi, who resigned after three seasons as head coach at the conclusion of the 2020 season.
Gerzin’s return to the Ely football program is, in many ways, out of the blue.
The position remained open over the summer after an initial posting led to a job offer, and a candidate withdrawing from consideration.

Fri
23
Jul

Vets invited out to the ballpark

Tuesday figures to be a special night at Veterans Memorial Field.
The Ely Baseball Association is inviting all veterans out to the ballpark for its annual Veterans’ Night celebration.
All veterans and military personnel will be admitted free for the Northeast Substate Division II playoff doubleheader at the ballpark, and they’re also invited to take part in the on-field veterans tribute that will occur at approximately 7:15 p.m.
Veterans will also be treated to a free meal and beverage from the ballpark concession stand, courtesy of the Ely American Legion Auxiliary.
Started in 2005 during a regional tournament that brought teams from several states to Ely, the veterans tribute has become an annual part of the summer baseball season in town and is usually held in conjunction with an American Legion baseball tournament.

Fri
16
Jul

2021 Ely Little League champs

Fri
16
Jul

Veterans’ Night set for ballpark

A special event that has become an Ely baseball tradition is coming up at Veterans Memorial Field.
The Ely Baseball Association will salute local veterans on Tuesday July 27 for its annual Veterans’ Night celebration.
All veterans and military personnel will be admitted free for the Northeast Substate Division II playoff doubleheader at the ballpark, and they’re also invited to take part in the on-field veterans tribute that will occur at approximately 7:15 p.m.
The event has become a staple on Ely’s summer baseball calendar.
“We’ve done the veterans’ tribute the last 15 years or so and it has been very well received,” said Tom Coombe, head coach of Ely’s Legion team and longtime tournament director. “We’ve had some very moving opening ceremonies before our major state VFW and Legion tournaments, and it is something we want to do every year whether or not we are hosting a big tournament. We hope a lot of veterans will come out and participate.”

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