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WSI has hand in big game

Windom native Joel Wiens had more than a passing interest in Sunday's Super Bowl LIV between the San Francisco 49'ers and the Kansas City Chiefs.
You may recall that the 1986 Windom Area High School graduate is owner and president of WSI Sports in Eagan, which designs custom gear for individuals and teams at all levels. Well, WSI provided some apparel for members of the 49'ers for Sunday's big game - and all of the items were made at his company in Eagan.
The latest innovations included specially designed compression shirts and tights to help keep the athlete cooler and more comfortable. Certainly that had to come in handy in the warmer climate of Miami.
WSI also made custom practice gear for the 49'ers to "help fit them into the Miami vibe," according to their press release sent out prior to the Super Bowl.
WSI not only got the apparel made in quick order, but delivered to the team equally quickly. In the release, Wiens said, "I prepare our team to be ready to produce quickly in the event teams need cold weather gear on short notice."
Or, in this case, warm weather gear.
Wiens founded the company in 1990 and has since been known as the "Cold Weather Expert." The secret to WSI's success is HEATR® technology, which lines the cold weather gear and heats up against the skin. Unlike anything else in the market, WSI Sports continues to be a leader in creating innovative, locally-made sportswear.
Joel's mom, Irene Menken, continues to live here in Windom.
Stay tuned for some more news about Joel coming in April.
An '86 classmate passes
Sadly, we go from an uplifting story about a 1986 WAHS grad to one filled with sorrow.
I was fortunate enough to attend the visitation for Joel's classmate, Jim Sotebeer, who died last week, a day before his 52nd birthday (obituary is on page 7).
Jim was one of the nicest guys you'll ever meet. He became a good friend and was one of the people who convinced me to stay in Windom in my early years in town. I almost always would see Jim and his family at Riverfest, especially when their children were younger.
And, of course, whenever I saw him, we would talk sports, whether it was the Twins, Vikings, Wild, or Timberwolves. Jim also would always ask about the Eagles to see how things were going with the athletic teams of his alma mater.
Jim was a three-sport athlete in high school and played on three state tournament baseball teams in the mid 1980s - two of them state champions.
He was a real class act and will be sorely missed.
His big personality and easy-to-get-along-with-anybody approach to people apparently rubbed off on those in Sioux Falls where he was living. The line was long for the number of guests who came to offer condolences and comfort to his wife, Becca, and their children, as well as Jim's mom and sister, Tommie and Mary, who still live here in Windom.
Several of Jim's classmates were at the visitation and I had the chance to catch up with them as well.
Jim, you'll be missed!
Traveling surprise
It's not that often you walk into a convenience store and suddenly balloons start dropping all around you.
But that's exactly what happened to Windom residents Arlo and Pat Sell last month. The couple were traveling to Gilbert, Ariz., to visit their granddaughter and decided to take a break at Russell's Travel Center in Endee, N.M., after having just crossed into the state.
When they walked through the doors, balloons dropped indicating that they were the 1 millionth customer at the Endee business. In addition to having balloons drop, they also were feted at the truck stop's classic car museum with a free Russell's T-shirt and ball cap, a certificate to mark the occasion and a free steak-and-shrimp dinner at the truck stop's diner.
According to an article by Ron Warnick of the Quay County Sun, Russell's Travel Center director of operations, Mark Russell, said he didn't have a strict count on the number of persons who have passed through the doors since it opened in 2010, but instead said it was estimated.
They used a clicker count of customers at the business on a typical month last spring, then multiplied the total by the months and years the truck stop had been open. They came up with an approximate time when that 1 millionth customer would walk in.
Arlo and Pat were the lucky winners.
Well, that certainly made their trip a little more fun and something additional to share with their granddaughter.


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