Which is better?

Posted: 9th April 2014 by Aaron Hagen in Uncategorized

A friend of my posed an interesting question recently.

Which is better, winning the NIT or being one and done in the NCAA tournament.

Of course, he was referencing the Minnesota men’s basketball team winning the National Invitation Tournament and the Iowa Hawkeyes losing in the “First Four.”

Well, my first thought is neither.

In 10 years, nobody will remember the NIT.

Or the First Four, for that matter.

All that will be remembered is the NCAA champion — Connecticut.

So my initial response was that neither is an envious position.

But then I started thinking a little more.

I had to first give credit to the Gophers. Winning any tournament is impressive. Having the experience of playing some good teams and playing in Madison Square Garden will be helpful down the road. I would think it would be especially helpful for a young coach to gain that experience. Having a few more weeks of practice for the returning players to learn the system is certainly a positive. And, for the outgoing players, a win in your final game — no matter where it is — leaves a much more positive stamp on your college experience.

However, I started thinking about the NCAA Tournament. How many people watch the tournament? How many fill out a bracket? People who know little or nothing about college basketball fill them out. Shoot, even the President of the United States fills out a bracket.

I don’t see many people going in on a NIT pool. I don’t see our president predicting the NIT champion.

So, on the prestige aspect, I have to give it to the NCAA tournament, and Iowa.

Am I happy for the Gophers? Yes.

Am I disappointed in the Hawks? Definitely.

Minnesota needed something to feel good about this season. They needed a good showing in the NIT, and they got it. I just hope they can keep that momentum going into next season. As Richard Pitino goes into his second season as the Gophers’ head coach, I think there is definitely room to improve.

But as far as the question, I’ll say Iowa is better. Even being one and done in the NCAA tournament is better than winning the NIT.

I may be slightly biased, but all things considered, more attention and more prestige goes to the NCAA tourney.

I’m just hoping that Iowa can use that experience to go a little further next season.

Well, I didn’t win a billion dollars by filling out a perfect bracket.

And you know, I’m not too broken up about it. Maybe it’s because I had really no expectations of winning.

Or maybe it was because I wouldn’t know what to do with a billion dollars anyway.

Even though this tournament won’t be profitable for me (I’m not even going to win my office pool), it doesn’t mean I haven’t enjoyed it.

I didn’t so much enjoy the Iowa loss. But other than that, I have enjoyed every minute I have been able to watch.

And while I am planning to spend most of this weekend watching basketball, I will have to miss most of tonight’s games.

But it’s for a good reason: The Worthington Area YMCA Cruise Dinner.

Annual event promises fun evening

I have often told people, Worthington is what you make of it.

Well, tonight, Worthington has an opportunity to be a great place to be.

The annual YMCA Cruise Dinner is tonight at the Worthington Event Center.

This year, the Johnny Holm Band will be the main entertainment.

I have gone to the Cruise Dinner a few years now, and it has proved to be a highlight of the year each time.

A year ago, the event moved to the Event Center. The venue was great. Out there again this year, I have high expectations for the evening.

I have written many times about my fondness for live music. And this is yet another opportunity to hear some great music.

Worthington really is what you make of it.

And with good friends, good food and good music, the YMCA Cruise Dinner is going to make Worthington a great place to be.

Not letting it bring me down

Posted: 14th March 2014 by Aaron Hagen in Uncategorized
Tags: , ,

This is one of my favorite times of the year.

And it’s not just because it’s finally getting warm. Although that doesn’t hurt.

But what makes this the best time of the year is March Madness.

It’s the time when the world stops (or at least my world does) and watches college basketball.

It’s the time when frustration over brackets and excitement about upsets can happen in the blink of an eye.

It’s the time when Cinderella isn’t just a Disney character.

And as excited as I am for the NCAA tournament to begin, I couldn’t help but be disappointed in the Iowa Hawkeyes.

Anyone who knows me knows I am a die hard fan.

And this was supposed to be the year — the year when Iowa finally made a run at the Big Ten title.

It didn’t happen.

Not even close.

In fact, Iowa finished as the sixth seed for the Big Ten tournament. Even Nebraska had a better seed.

I was still optimistic heading into the first round. I mean, Iowa was playing Northwestern — the 11 seed. The Hawks have beaten them by 20-plus points each time.

What could go wrong?

Well, I don’t know what happened on that Thursday night, but it wasn’t good.

As each minute ticked away, I felt worse and worse about Iowa’s chances.

By the time the final buzzer sounded, Iowa played itself out of a chance at a Big Ten tourney title.

As I write this (Friday), the NCAA Tournament brackets have not been announced. All the experts predict Iowa is safely in the tournament. I’m not so sure. But no matter what seed they get, I’m not picking Iowa to win a game.

But even with the disappointment that is Iowa, I’m not going to let that bring me down. It is, after all, the most wonderful time of the year.

And for those of you who are going to pick a bracket for the chance to win a billion dollars, good luck. I’ll be rooting for you!

It’s time for Lent

Posted: 7th March 2014 by Aaron Hagen in Uncategorized

It happens every year.

It begins on Ash Wednesday and ends on Easter.

Yes, I’m talking about Lent.

For my dad, a Lutheran minister, Lent was always a busy time. There were the extra services throughout the week. There were special things going on during Sunday services. And, of course, who could forget the sunrise service on Easter morning?

Granted, for me, Lent meant going to church a little more. When I was younger, it meant I could walk into the church with palms. Every year, we would be allowed to take some palms home.

As far as I can remember, we didn’t give up anything during the Lenten season.

A year ago, my friend Ryan called and suggested we give up pop — or soda, whichever you want to call it — for the Lenten season.

Sure, I love my Mountain Dew, but why not?

And sure enough, I made it. The whole season without a single drop of pop.

This year, we are giving it another try.

And while I know this isn’t how it’s supposed to work, we are giving ourselves one day off. The night of the YMCA cruise dinner. He and I will be reunited after many months and miles separating us. We know there will be soda being consumed.

Well, we decided to make up for it, we would start a day early.

At 11:59 p.m. Monday, I took my last drink of pop — Hy-Vee rootbeer.

I haven’t had any since. Not to say I haven’t had cravings. But I haven’t given in to them.

So we’ll see how the rest of the season goes.

Sure, I know it’s cheating, but I’m not going to let that detract from the accomplishment.


Posted: 19th February 2014 by Aaron Hagen in Uncategorized

As soon as I heard about the comedy show at the Worthington Event Center, I was excited.


In Worthington?


But yes, it happened.

A week before, I bought tickets for myself and my girlfriend, Kelsey. Sure, it was the day after Valentine’s Day, but I still figured it would be a good event for the two of us.

We showed up at the Event Center about 45 minutes before the dinner was to start. The crowd was sparse, and once we located a co-worker of mine, we had our spot for the night. I’m glad we went when we did. A few minutes later, the place was full.

I have to say, Hy-Vee did a great job catering the meal. A meal of pork loin, chicken, baked potato, spring salad and a roll was delicious.

Then, it was time for the comedians.

For the next two hours, it was almost non-stop laughing. So much so, in fact, that my cheeks were sore from the amount of laughing throughout the night.

I have talked to a couple people I knew from the event, and so far, the reviews have been positive.

And judging by the turnout, these events are needed in a town like Worthington.

According to the Event Center website, the place can hold approximately 500 people. Granted, on this night, there was room for a stage, bar and buffet area.

The rest was full.

According to Event Coordinator Jackie Tentinger, she had set up for 330 people.

She had to bring out more tables.

Yes, there were close to 350 people at the event.

It would be hard to find an event in Worthington that draws that many people.

I believe that means people want events like this.

Before the Event Center, there wasn’t a place to hold comedy shows. Or New Year’s Eve parties.

Now there is.

I am glad the community is supporting these events, and I can’t wait to see what Jackie and the rest of the people at the Event Center have in store.

I know one thing for sure, the next time they have a comedy show, I’ll be first in line for tickets.

It’s Olympic time

Posted: 9th February 2014 by Aaron Hagen in Uncategorized

I love the Olympics.

Whether it’s the winter or summer games, I am glued to my television, waiting for the next star to be born.

This year is no different. With Friday’s opening ceremonies, we were able to learn a little about Russian history.

As the games are in full swing, I always revel at the athletic talent throughout the world.

Here’s what amazes me.

It’s that the games only come around once every four years.

Could you imagine? You work for years and years and you get one shot. Maybe it’s one routine. Or one jump. Or one pass at a course.

And that’s it.

For many, that’s all there is.

Granted, I know there are other competitions between the games.

But it’s not the same.

Could you imagine if the NBA only gave out one title every four years? Or if there was a Super Bowl, then three years without one?

As a Cubs fan, the motto, ‘There’s always next year,’ wouldn’t apply.

It’s no wonder why we see such emotion following competitions.

I can’t say that I have a favorite sport during the winter games. It’s always fun to watch such things like speed skating or bobsled. But really, no matter what NBC decides to show us, it’s just fun to watch as the best athletes in the world compete.

Even though we are only a few days into the competition, I know there is much more to come.

So, even if you aren’t into figure skating, or snowboarding, or luge, take a minute to appreciate these athletes. They are putting it all on the line for their country in hopes of bringing home a gold medal.

There are some great stories of triumph — and failure — and that’s what makes these games dramatic.

One of my favorite things about the Olympics is learning about the athletes who deliver that drama. Sure, you may know some of the big-name stars or the repeat Olympians, but it’s the new comers who make it worth watching. It’s the young skater making his or her debut in what will be a meteoric rise to champion that keeps me coming back.

So I invite you to follow along these next few weeks as these stories unfold. If you miss a night, that’s OK, we’ll have the coverage on the pages of the Daily Globe to keep you up to date.

And let’s hope when the games are over and the Olympic flame is extinguished, the U.S. once again shows its dominance on a world stage.

It’s been a fun few weeks

Posted: 28th January 2014 by Aaron Hagen in Uncategorized

It has been a fun few weeks here at the Daily Globe World Headquarters.
How often do you get to say that about their job?

Well, this time, I get to.

Sometimes you go into a story knowing it’s going to be great. And others, you aren’t so sure. But each one is unique in its own way.

Recently, I knew I was in for some fun times.

It started a couple weeks ago at the Worthington Area YMCA. It was the annual Twins Caravan. Players Brian Duensing and Ryan Pressly made the trip to Worthington with TV announcer Dick Bremer.

As a member of the media, you have some special privileges. One of those is being able to have one-on-one interviews with important people. These two Twins players are pretty important.

But that was just the beginning.

A few days later, I talked with Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton. He had released his bonding bill proposal, which included money for projects in southwest Minnesota.

However, my political interviews weren’t over quite yet.

Last week, U.S. Sen. Al Franken graced Worthington with his presence. It’s always interesting talking to Franken. I don’t remember him on Saturday Night Live, but I hear he was pretty good. From listening to him talk last week, I believe it. Even though the topic — Lewis and Clark Regional Water System — was very serious, there were a few times Franken cracked jokes.

Then, Tuesday I talked with an athlete who competed at the recent X Games in Colorado.

He didn’t win — this time around — but I had a feeling I was talking to a future star in his sport. A native of Windom, Travis Muller has bright things ahead of him. He was a great interview and I am excited to share his story later this week.

So between professional athletes who have already made it to one who is up and coming to state politicians to national politicians, it’s been a busy few weeks.

But then it got me thinking. I wonder who is the most difficult person to get an interview with. At the Daily Globe, we don’t exactly have the same clout as say a New York Times or Washington Post. I don’t think we can call up any movie star or the president and ask for an interview.

Someday, perhaps, but I don’t think that’s possible right now.

But after the interviews I’ve done in the last few weeks, I’m not counting anything out quite yet.

Behind the stats

Posted: 15th January 2014 by Aaron Hagen in Uncategorized
Tags: , ,

I have to admit, as a journalist, people are often times more than willing to help you out.

Now that I work in news, people are more than willing to hand out information. That includes agendas or press releases. I don’t have enough space to thank the city of Worthington for the city council packets. Being able to have that information readily available is a lifesaver for people like journalists.

When I was in sports, it was the same. I couldn’t keep track of all the stats while I was at a game, so I’d have to go and find the stat people following a contest. That was especially helpful at sports I didn’t quite understand. (It took me quite a while to figure out what a kill or a dig was in volleyball.)

And now, the roles are reversed. I’m the guy giving out the information.

This summer, my golf partner and Minnesota West athletic director Justin Heckenlaible approached me about the possibility of doing stats for the college basketball games.

Sure, I know the difference between a 3-pointer and a free throw. But could I do stats?

I told him I could, but if he could find someone else, that would be best.

Well, fast forward a few months, and I was the guy.

I went in for a crash course on how to use the program a few days before the first game.

I felt confident.

I was wrong.

The first half of the first game was awful. The score was wrong. The time was wrong. I didn’t have a clue what I was doing.

The second half was better. The second game of the doubleheader was a little better.

Now, I don’t want to say I’m a pro at this by any means. I still need the help of a spotter. (Trying to watch the game and click the appropriate places on the computer is really tough). But I’m getting a little more comfortable.

If there is an advantage to doing all this — outside of the Mountain Dew Justin graciously provides me — is that I’m getting my basketball fix.

I love basketball. I love watching it. I love playing it.

I just love it.

I’m not saying I wouldn’t have found an excuse to go to a couple of the games this year, but I have been to nearly every home game thus far.

And if that’s not enough, the teams have been very good this year.

The men (before Wednesday night’s game) are 11-4 overall and 2-0 in the Southern Division.

The women (again before Wednesday) are 12-3 and 2-0 in the division.

Both teams were on the road last night, but return home on Sunday. And they are games I’m looking forward to.

Minnesota West hosts Anoka-Ramsey.

The men are 13-2 and 2-0 in the division. The women are 12-3 overall and 2-0 in the division. In the latest polls, the women are ranked No. 3 in the nation. The MW women are receiving votes. The A-R men are ranked No. 7 in the nation.

I know I’m looking forward to the game, and I hope there’s a big crowd to see the games, which begin at 1 p.m. Sunday.

I’m just hoping I don’t get lost watching the game and not taking stats.

My prediction

Posted: 6th January 2014 by Aaron Hagen in Uncategorized

Yes, I know we aren’t doing “Pigskin pick ‘em” anymore.

But that doesn’t mean I can’t still pick a winner.

I pick Florida State.

Auburn has been a team of destiny this year. And I think the Tigers will make it a close game.

But Florida State is just too good.

Led by their Heisman-winning quarterback, the Seminoles are going to win.

Granted, I finished third out of four in the annual Daily Globe contest, so the chances of me being correct are slim to none.

Either way, I just hope its’ a good game.

It will mark the final college football game of the 2013 year. It’s been a crazy year, full of surprise teams and upsets.

Naturally, the same was true for the Iowa Hawkeyes. If you would have told me at the beginning of the year that the Hawks would win eight games and play on Jan. 1, I’m not sure I would have believed you.

But that’s why the play the games.

Here’s hoping next year’s season is just as exciting.

Would you drive an electric car?

Posted: 3rd January 2014 by Aaron Hagen in Uncategorized
Tags: ,

Would you ever drive an electric car?

It is a question that has been raised here in the last couple of days now that Tesla Motors has a Supercharging station in Worthington.

Currently, there are 50 of these stations throughout the country in an attempt to connect the country.

So, the question is, would you drive an electric car?

Well, I can think of a few issues.

The first is that I don’t want to stop and charge my car every few miles. According to Tesla’s website, the largest battery supplies 300 miles of range at 55 mph, which is about my limit before a stop anyway.

A full charge can take about an hour with a normal outlet. On a supercharger, it can take even less time. While the locations are somewhat limited now, more are coming soon. The company’s hope is to connect the entire country with stations 120-150 miles apart.  Most of the chargers are located at restaurants, giving you something to do while you wait.

The second thing I worry about is speed. The Model S can go from 0-60 in 5.9 seconds and tops out at 120 mph. That’s not too bad.

Of course, these things are expensive. The base price is around $70,000. So there’s that to think about. But yet, at the same time, how much would you save in gas?

We did some quick math here in the office and figured you could save about $15,000 if you drove a car 100k miles. That doesn’t include oil changes. Granted, there will be maintenance on an electric car.

One of the biggest advantages to an electric car would be the fact it’s better for the environment.

So there it is. Would you ever drive an electric car?

It certainly is a good argument. As more stations begin to pop up throughout the country, it will become easier to justify the purchase.

For me, it comes down to two things. The first, will they become less expensive. Yes, with the savings at the gas station and the government incentives, the $70,000 shrinks a little. But it’s still a pricey car. The second is the fact I’ve never actually driven one. I’d have to see what it was really like before I could give a definitive answer.

So how about you, would you drive an electric car?