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Beyond the Puck
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Beyond the Puck

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by Angela Garvin
Photography by Thru Him Photography

As a three sport athlete, Peter Johnson does not shy away from working hard and focusing on improving his skills. Growing up the third oldest in a family of eight children, sports have always been a big part of Peter’s life. All three of his brothers play hockey, football, and baseball. His sisters play softball and volleyball and have started getting into hockey as well.

Peter started playing sports around the age of five, where many kids begin – in T-ball. He also started skating about that same time. Around the 3rd grade is when he started getting into playing tackle football. His dad participated in both baseball and football and he played a big role in teaching and guiding his son in those sports. Peter really got into hockey because his mother is from Roseau, MN, and many of his cousins also play hockey.

Peter says he doesn’t have a favorite sport of the three he participates in, however he did say, “Hockey is kind of the baby right now. It takes a lot of my time, and I shoot a lot of pucks at home.” He has received several honors in each of the sports he has played, including the Brian Welle Most Inspirational Player Award in hockey. Peter received this award both his sophomore and junior year. He hopes to get voted all-conference player as well as all-section player in each sport in this his final year of high school.

Peter definitely has some potential possibilities playing hockey after he graduates from high school. He has been scouted by the Austin Bruins, a Tier II junior ice hockey team based in Minnesota. He has also connected with the Dubuque Fighting Saints, a Tier I junior ice hockey team based in Iowa. “I went to their camp [Dubuque] this summer and talked with the coaches and they liked me. I have to go back to their camp next year and make the team.”

One thing that is true about high school athletics is that the coaches that guide the teams can really make a big impact on each player. When Peter was asked how he felt about his coaches, a big grin flashed across his face and he said, “I love all of my coaches.” Peter continued, “Our defensive coordinator is our principal [Dean Monke] and he is really awesome. We like our head coach, too.” Steve Olson is the head coach, and Shane Thielke is the assistant coach, who Peter works for at the high school.

Peter referred to his hockey coaches as “really awesome.” He went on to say, “Mike Alt [assistant coach] kind of brings the energy and Mike Donaghue [head coach] is more straight-forward, do it right.” His baseball coach is Mark Aho. “He’s always got life lessons for us and is pretty laid back,” Peter said. “Baseball is a really laid back sport for all of us. Most of us that play baseball play basketball and hockey. The basketball guys are hard, the hockey guys are hard and baseball is time to relax a little bit.”

Other than his current coaches, he has had several different influences in athletics before he began his high school career. Tim Lill was Peter’s Pee Wee hockey coach during middle school and taught them a great deal about the sport. When it came to football, he said his dad is very knowledgeable about the sport and has helped him as he has progressed through the ranks. Trevor Larson, a local college student who helped coach Peter’s baseball team last year, was another influence on him. About Larson, Peter remarked, “He was always really good to us and we liked him.”

Being a team player is a big part of high school sports, and this is what Peter had to say about what is most important. “A willingness to do whatever the coaches ask of you, and compete.” Peter continued, “You have to look at the big picture, but you just have to focus on one day at a time and work hard every day.”

“This year we have had to deal with a lot of injuries. One of our other captains fractured his fibula in seven different spots and dislocated his ankle. Another senior linebacker tore his ACL.” Peter elaborated, “Guys have to go into other spots and be flexible. We are just fighting through it, and becoming more of a team.”

Peter has been influenced a great deal by those that have guided him through each of the sports, his coaches, volunteers and of course his family, and it shows a great deal in his attitude. “My goal is to always set a good example as the captain of all three teams. A willingness to come work hard every day is what really makes a team.” When it comes to competition, there generally isn’t a shortage of that in high school sports. According to Peter, in football, the Detroit Lakes Lakers are one of those teams they want to beat. “It is always a big game against them,” Peter said. “We beat them 12-6 here on our home field and the stands were packed. Those are always the most memorable games.” In hockey, the Alexandria Cardinals are one of their biggest rivals. Peter also mentioned that lately some of the St. Cloud schools are becoming greater competition as well. “We lost to Cathedral [St. Cloud] in double overtime during my sophomore year, so they’re kind of on our hit list a little bit.” The Alexandria Cardinals are one of their greatest rivals in baseball as well, due to them being so close in proximity to Fergus Falls.

In addition to his focus on athletics, Peter is also committed to being successful in his academics. As a member of the National Honor Society, he believes that requiring students to have good grades in order to play sports helps students through their high school careers. He is also a member of the a cappella choir, singing baritone.

With all of his experience in high school athletics, he was bound to have some guidance for those beginning their high school careers. Peter’s advice was fantastic, and something anyone of any age can learn from and adopt into their own lives. He focuses on a saying that is shortened to three letters. “GBT. Get better today,” Peter said. He notes the importance of

understanding the big picture, but says focusing on the daily actions you can do towards a goal is what makes that goal ultimately become an achievement. “Don’t say I have got to be so fast by the end of the summer and then never do it. If you do 5 sprints one day, and the next day you do another 5 sprints, they’ll just build and over time your goal will actually happen. Try to get better every day.”

Like most kids, Peter is enjoying his last year of high school, but also looking to the future and taking the time to plan out what is next for him after graduation. “I am hoping to play a year or two of juniors [hockey] after high school and then get a scholarship. That’s kind of the goal. Then I’d hopefully play four years of hockey in college.” As of right now he doesn’t have a specific college in mind, but he is enjoying the ride and working hard every day to become better at what he does and accomplish his goals.