From an octogenarian who’s tallied a hole-in-one more often than Tiger Woods, to a college football star who speaks Latin – yes, Latin – I’ve relished getting to know some of Minnesota’s most intriguing sports stories in 2012.
The following are my top five favorite people of the past year, listed in no particular order.
Brett Baune: My Long-Lost Bro
While researching for my interview with Concordia’s All-MIAC fullback Brett Baune, I saw interests that included a love of Michael Crichton (you know, the greatest science-fiction/thriller writer of all-time).
From that point on, I was convinced if it weren’t for pesky geography, I would probably be buds with the Cobbers’ star senior running back.
And come on, give it up for a man who seamlessly combines brain and brawn. He broke the school record for career touchdowns, and yet also knows a dead language that’s the root of all tongues — Latin.
He’s a true Renaissance man at a time when the closest the majority of his peers get to the term Renaissance is when they’re chomping down on a turkey leg while attending the annual fall festival in Shakopee.
Kaiti Wachter: Does She Even Have Time To Breathe?
Find someone who’s busier. I dare you.
Kaiti Wachter, St. Thomas’ senior volleyball star, works three part-time jobs.
Her internship at Northwestern Mutual will undoubtedly turn into a job. Why wouldn’t they hire this standout professional?
And her Tommie volleyball team won the 2012 Division III national championship.
Oh, and she makes time at least once a week to hang out with her grandma, while also hiding chocolates around the house for her grandmother to find later that day.
Feeling kind of bad about what you’ve been doing with your free time lately?
You’re not alone.
Herb Galliart: An 83-Year-Old Gift To The Game Of Golf
The only thing old about Herb Galliart is his reaction to yet another hole-in-one.
When you’ve knocked home 19 aces, the feat becomes a bit mundane.
The man from Cloquet, Minn., does put in his share of sweat equity, playing 150 rounds in Minnesota during the summer, and then tossing in 200 rounds while he winters in Arizona.
Still, anytime you have more aces than the game’s most gifted – Tiger Woods (18) – you’re doing something right.
So, when she tagged along with me to interview D’Aundre Reed as part of my ongoing NFL journal project with the second-year defensive lineman, she had absolutely no idea what to expect when coming face-to-face with a professional athlete.
And just as Reed has done all year with me during this project — he impressed.
That’s because the 6-foot-4-inch, 261-pound beast is undoubtedly one of the most sincere and down-to-earth individuals I’ve had the opportunity to work with professionally.
“He was so nice, so cool, so kind,” were the words pouring out of Casale’s mouth as we departed Vikings headquarters.
And all three descriptors are spot-on.
Molly Erickson: Probably The Life Of The Party On The Hill
Even though it’s literally my job to “put a finger on it” in regard to why Molly Erickson made the cut for my “5 Favorite People Of 2012,” I’m having trouble doing just that.
She’s just … a cool cat?
Well, for starters, she’s a lover of “Arrested Development,” which if you don’t believe is one of the best televisions shows in the history of, well, television, then you need to expand your viewing selections.
She’s also one of those people who actually walk the walk. As a youngster on the St. Olaf golf team, she wanted to get better, so she never took a day off.
That took her from being St. Olaf’s role player, to the nation’s second-best in two years.
How’s that for results?
Oh, and she was on drum line back in sixth grade, and she idolizes Beyonce.
Now that’s … cool. Well, at least kind of.