Column: New Ulm graduate Erich Martens takes over at MSHSL

Back in 1984, when Erich Martens graduated from New Ulm High School his principal was Dave Stead, who was one of the people who signed his diploma.

Now, 33 years later, the two former New Ulmites are again tied together.

Martens, currently the principal at Sauk Rapids Rice High School, will take over for Stead as Director of the Minnesota State High School League (MSHSL) next spring.

“I am really excited about it,” said Martens whose parents are Keith Martens and Margo Martens. “It is a great organization. The mission and belief of the organization are right on track with where I stand in regards to activities within a high school setting. I think that it does a wonderful job of managing the rules and regulations focusing on safety for students, providing good support and training for officials. It does a lot of great things in programming for students in grades 7-12.”

Martens played football, basketball and baseball and also ran track at New Ulm High School in addition to being on the Student Council.

His wife Nancy is also a 1984 graduate of NUHS and is the daughter of Dale and the late Marv Nelson of New Ulm.

“I was really not involved much with Mr. Stead back then but I have gotten to know him since through meetings and especially with my involvement on the board,” Martens said.

Martens said that the MSHSL “has some great sources in place that allow for decision-making to be made by groups and not by individuals. So when I look at that I think that the biggest thing is to have conversations and learn from individual member schools and to understand what they really want to see happen and where things can go and to continue to be responsive for the needs of our students and schools.”

As far as changes in eligibility and transfers, Martens said “that there are some unique dynamics that happen within both family, family settings as well as great varieties of educational opportunities (which) mean that we have to continue to look at what does eligibility look like. Back when I was playing, you went to a school. There were not online or charter schools at that time of any number, so a lot of things have changed over the course of time so you need to make sure our rules still support fair play and a level playing field. But also try to take in account the vast number of differences that happen within family units and educational settings.”

The graduate of St. John’s University also feels that having a reasonable number in each class of sports is critical.

“We are hearing that already in sports like soccer where two classes is not enough,” he said. “It does not provide opportunities for schools in the smaller side of the [class] AA. Should it be a three or four class.”

Martens said that it is unique that the last two Directors of the MSHSL are both from New Ulm.

“I am excited for it,” he said. “From my experience in New Ulm there are a lot of sports-minded people there and take a great pride in programs. I am honored and humbled to follow Dave. I also am looking forward to coming back and seeing the new high school in New Ulm.”

TWO NUHS PLAYERS NEAR 1,000 CAREER POINTS: New Ulm High School junior Joey Batt scored 38 points on Saturday and now has 1,011 career points. With almost all of this season and all of next season to go, Batt has a chance to become New Ulm High School’s All- Time career scoring leader. Meleah Reinhart holds that mark with 1,842 points…. Senior Connor Foley is at 888 career points for the Eagles.

REINHART AT SOUTHWEST STATE: Reinhart, a freshman at Southwest State University, is averaging 23 minutes a game with a 5.6 points per game average. Her high points game was 16 against the University of Sioux Falls. She has played a lot of point guard as well as 2-guard.