Annual washer Board Tournament unites friends of Mike Hansen
The love of life brought around 200 people together to participate in the Fourth Annual Mike Hansen Memorial Washer Board Tournament on Saturday, March 12, at the Eagles Club.
Mike Hansen passed away in November of 2011, leaving behind his wife and their children. Hansen was a hockey coach, and suffered a heart attack while coaching.
His high school friends from Owatonna wanted to create an event in his honor, so they created Mike Hansen Memorial Washer Board Tournament, which always occurs near St. Patrick’s Day.
“We just wanted to do something that carried on his legacy and memory,” said organizer Wes Jones.
Thirty-two single teams and 44 doubles teams participated in the tournament this year, resulting in a crowd of around 200 people enjoying one another’s company. “We have people that are in washer board league and we have novices. A lot of people just come to watch,” laughed Jones. “Some new people like to do doubles, so they don’t feel as foolish.”
To register in the tournament, it costs $15 per participant. There were various t-shirts for sale, and there was a meat raffle going on throughout the day.
Jones said that the goal was to raise $4,000.
All money raised goes toward the Owatonna Parks and Recreation Scholarship Program, which provides opportunity for children that might not be able to afford participation.
Assistant Recreation Director Tim Truelson said that Park and Recreation Scholarship fund offers between $12,000 to $15,000 worth of scholarships per year. Between 400 and 500 scholarships are awarded each year. He called the Mike Hansen Memorial Washer Board Tournament one of the fund’s big fundraisers.
“The scholarships go to kids age 3 to 8th grade,” said Truelson. “If they can cover 25 percent, the rest could be paid by scholarship.”
Since Hansen was a fan of sports and recreation, his friends found the Park and Recreation Scholarship fund to be a fitting ause.
Hansen’s brother-in-law Wade Westphal said that the event is a big deal to the family. “Boy, it means a lot,” commented Westphal. “We used to have trophies with Mike’s finger prints, and it really was emotional when a family member or friend won.”
This year, the prizes are minimal: a simple glass. Each participant went home with a t-shirt. Organizers said that it is more about a good time, than winning.
Jones predicted that about 40 percent of the crowd were there because they knew Hansen. “The other people just enjoy playing washer board, and that is great too,” said Jones.
“Mike would have just loved this event. He was very social and enjoyed having a good time,” said Westphal. “It is a good thing that it is all going back to youth sports.”