Owatonna Youth 1st honored 12 Owatonna Parks and Recreation youth basketball teams for their outstanding sportsmanship over the season.

In partnership with the Minnesota Timberwolves and Lynx, many of the recognized teams and their families attended the Timberwolves game against Sacramento on Saturday night at Target Center. The goal of Youth 1st is to emphasize conduct, character and community in youth activities. Director Mark Arjes said in a press release, "Too many kids are dropping out of youth sports because of a lack of fun and the ultra-competitive environment. We believe it is time to model and encourage what we call a conduct-first environment. It place the emphasis on good sportsmanship and positive conduct."

Teams were selected based the observation of referees based on the conduct of players, coaches, fans and parents. Each team received a plaque, certificates and recognition at Target Center during the April 1 game. Local sponsors for the program include Walser Foundation, Federated Insurance, Jostens, Pearson, Bennerotte & Associates, Cashwise Foods, Owatonna Parks and Recreation, and Steele County Parks and Recreation.

Honored teams include third-grade girls teams Hohenstein Agency coached by Kevin Kjersten and Brian Schlauderaff, Gopher Sport coached by Brandon Simmons, and Casey's General Store with coach John Vogt. Fourth- through sixth-grade girls teams include Sweet Towing with coaches Michelle Trager and Curtis Sandsmark, Gopher Sport coached by Phil Clubb and Bridget Hayes, and Dairy Queen with coaches Tom Shea and Jeff Kramer.

The third-grade boys team Kirchner Siding and Window coached by Shaun Ladue was selected. Others include fourth-grade boys teams Dagry Tool coached by Paul & Kelly Ahrens, Hyvee with coach John Bruns, and Cartime coached by Dean Smith and Dan Soller. Fifth- through sixth-grade boys teams picked were Noble RV coached by Scott Jirele, and Wottreng Dental with coach Bob Wottreng.

The Minnesota Timberwolves FastBreak Foundation supports programs that positively affect Minnesota youth. Owatonna Parks and Recreation is a charter member of the Youth 1st effort.

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