Whitcomb shares wisdom with area athletes

Former New Ulmite Frank Whitcomb’s message at the 70th Annual New Ulm Club banquet Saturday night was simple.

Stop trying to be perfect and start being remarkable.

Whitcomb, a graduate of New Ulm High School and St. Cloud State University now living in Lakeville, said that too often we try and do everything perfectly.

“But nothing ends up being perfect,” he said. “Then we get bummed out — we give up — so instead we need to be remarkable.”

Whitcomb said that his children have struggled with being perfect in school and athletics.

He said that his daughter was distraught and called him when she got a C in a college class, while his son called and was exuberant about a C in his college course.

Whitcomb said that more and more today, there is pressure to be perfect.

“I was raised in New Ulm and my son did an internship here for the City of New Ulm,” Whitcomb said. “He said to me that New Ulm is a different country and he is right. What he felt was less pressure, more family, more what is good for the kid instead of what is good for the parent. And I really cherish that coming out of this community, but in some places it is not like that anymore. You better be perfect — what are your grades — you need to work harder. For sure it is more stressful for young people today than it was for me.”

When asked how he would react if he was playing sports today would depend a lot on his parents actions.

“If my parents are good parents and they are doing this for my benefit and growth I would not have any problems playing today — none,” he said. “But if I had parents that flipped the other way, I would hate playing sports. And that happens a lot.”

Whitcomb has several times spoken about doing things in what he calls, “The New Ulm way.”

“Again, I grew up in it and it is based on family, faith, community involvement,” Whitcomb said. “And if there ever was a saying it takes a village to raise a kid — that is New Ulm. They have all of the pieces and they are all pulling in the same direction for you.”


This was the 70th Annual New Ulm Club Athletic Banquet.

And in those 70 years, it has touched a lot of people.

In those 70 years (and with the exception of the years when Martin Luther Academy closed and before Minnesota Valley Lutheran opened) 206 outstanding Male Athletes of the Year have been selected from New Ulm’s three high schools.

Starting in 1976, there have been 144 Outstanding Female Athletes of the Year chosen.

If you take the total number of senior athletes honored in those 70 years, numbers can be estimated.

But we will use the number of 50 (which may be low from each high school especially in the early years). Total that up and that means that 3,500 senior athletes have been honored.

Then you take the attendance from parents and grandparents at the banquets.

Again, it is an estimate.

But we will say 150 of them are parents, grandparents, etc.

That total comes out to 10,500.

Add in the 70 speakers who have talked at the banquet.

That means that the banquet has touched roughly 14,000 people since it started in 1955, with Warren Sondag (NUHS), Ron Schleif (CHS) and Delbert Ehlke (MLA) being the initial winners.

And as Frank Whitcomb said, it takes a village to raise a kid and that is New Ulm.

“They have all of the pieces in place and they are all pulling in the same direction.”


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