EAGLE RIVER - More than 2,300 pond hockey players made their way to Dollar Lake - just outside of Eagle River. The annual Pond Hockey Championships featured 336 teams playing on 31 rinks.
"This is our ninth year playing in Eagle River," tournament manager Scott Albrich of USA Hockey explains. "It's the best weather we've had."
Many teams were from the Northwoods. Including "Range Beverage" out of Hurley. They finished second in the 30+ silver division. Cory and Ryan Moderson are brothers on the team. Cory's family enjoys watching him play. 5-year old Devin is watching dad play for the first time.
"Cool," Devin said. "I never saw him play before."
"This is his first time," Cory Moderson - Devin's dad adds. "He's probably going to want to go out there after seeing dad play."
Cory's wife Mae says it's amaizing watching the change in her husband when he steps on the ice.
"He's a completely different person," Mae explains. "Not the guys who is sitting on the couch. He's out there like an animal or a teenager playing hockey with his brother."
It's not just the men getting in on the fun. "Up Yours" is one of the 40 women's teams. They're from Houghton, MI. All of these players are older than 50.
"We can't take the down side of life," Shelley Farrey points out. "We figured we've got to make the best of everyday. Last year we decided to form a team. Played against kids we could have given birth to. It was tough. If they had a 38 and over division, we would be the only ones out there."
"Very exciting to see hockey being played in it's purest form," Albrich adds. "Chance for players to go back to when they were kids. Going outside and just playing."
ROTHSCHILD - Wisconsin farms play a key role in our economy, but today's farm owners aren't getting any younger.
One apprentice program hopes to change that.
The Dairy Grazing Apprenticeship program is building and preparing the next generation of farmers. It gives young farmers hands-on training and a path to a career in dairy farming.
"There's a lot of farms that are going to be transitioned and transferred in the next decade or so, and what we really need is somebody to be able to take these farms over," says program director Joe Tomandl. "We don't have that training program in place, and that's what the dairy grazing apprenticeship is about."
A recent government census of American agriculture found the average age of a farmer is 58 years old. Leaders believe the apprentice program has already seen success with new farmers over the past few years.
"We have a number of new producers just in the last four years in Marathon and Lincoln counties now running their own dairy farms using managed grazing techniques," says Paul Daigle of the Marathon County Conservation, Planning, & Zoning Department. "It's still a struggle no matter what, but it offers a profitable way to get into farming today."
Cattle farmers met at the 20th Annual Winter Grazing Conference today in Rothschild.
RHINELANDER - If you never met Monica Bartishofski, you would have loved her smile.
“Oh it was contagious, you couldn’t not smile when Monica greeted you into the store,” says Patti Pazera, Rhinelander Trigs Employee.
These are the aisles Monica used to walk during her days bagging groceries for the people of Rhinelander.
“You always knew if it was going on close to 1:00 in the afternoon, and we would go here comes Monica and we’d always just see her bright smiling face,” says Anne Cline, Rhinelander Trigs Employee. “She’d come and visit us before her shift and she just enjoyed coming down and seeing us girls.”
Monica was killed in a car accident on Valentines Day.
“It was Valentines Day when she had her accident,” says Cline.
“At first it didn’t hit me you know it didn’t comprehend and then I’m checking out a customer and of course we’re busy and the tears start coming down,”says Christa Stolzman, Rhinelander Trigs Employee.
“We all just stood there in shock and the day stopped for a bit,” says Cline.
“I had to apologize to my customers because I had tears in my eyes and I said I’m sorry I don’t mean to be crying but we just lost Monica and I tell you what, a lot of those customers couldn’t believe it and they teared up with me,” says Stolzman.
“After her accident customers were all coming up saying how they missed her smile that it always made even if they were having a bad day it made it a good day whenever they came in and saw Monica,” says Pazera.
Monica’s coworkers decided to raise money in memory of Monica. They sold carnations for donations and raised over $2,700 toward Special Olympics.
Monica Bartishofski worked here inside the Rhinelander Trigs for 17 years but it was her commitment to the special Olympics that coworkers, friends, and family will remember most.
“You could call her Monica “Special Olympics” Bartishofski,” says Tony Bartishofski, Monica’s dad. “She always had a good time bowling. She was really outgoing, bubbly.”
Monica lived life to the fullest.
“You just remember her with her smiling face, her laugh was just you know a great laugh that she had and just bright eyed always happy to be at work,” says Stolzman. “So I think that would be a good way of remembering her.”
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