September 5, 2017 at 3:32 p.m.

Wagner brings dairy background to court, classroom

Amanda Wagner invited her SCSU women’s basketball teammates to her family’s dairy farm last October. Joining Amanda (left) on the farm were (from left) Lauren Carew, Hannah Swiener, Jessica Benson, Morgan Lof, Megan Foley, Reyan Robinson and Jodie Gerkind. (photo submitted)
Amanda Wagner invited her SCSU women’s basketball teammates to her family’s dairy farm last October. Joining Amanda (left) on the farm were (from left) Lauren Carew, Hannah Swiener, Jessica Benson, Morgan Lof, Megan Foley, Reyan Robinson and Jodie Gerkind. (photo submitted)

By By Krista M. Sheehan & Mark Klaphake- | Comments: 0 | Leave a comment

ST. CLOUD, Minn. - In the fall of 2009, 18-year-old Amanda Wagner left behind 5 a.m. chores, 120 cows and other daily responsibilities at her parents' farm for the 7,000-student St. Cloud State University campus and a spot on the women's basketball team.

Even though she's 100 miles away from the farm in New Prague, Minn., Amanda, daughter of LouAnn and Randy Wagner, has taken her dairy lessons with her and has shared them with others in the classroom and with her teammates on the court.

To give her teammates a dairy education Amanda invited them to New Prague in October for a Saturday on the farm. Seven of her teammates accepted the invitation to join the Wagners for feeding calves, milking cows and typical farm chores.

"I was excited because most of those girls hadn't been to a farm," LouAnn said. "They don't have any idea where their food and milk comes from so it was good for them to see it doesn't just come from the grocery store."

Amanda said she wasn't surprised by the reactions of her teammates - all of whom have no dairy background - when they first arrived at the farm.

"They all plugged their noses when they got there," Amanda said.

The clothing they wore to the farm made it evident that chores aren't in their daily routine. Some of the teammates showed up in shorts, tank tops and flip flops, LouAnn said.

When they started on evening milking, their lack of dairy farm experienced also showed.

"When we were feeding calves, some wouldn't even come close or let them suck on their fingers," Amanda said.

But Amanda enjoyed the scene.

"I just thought it was hilarious," she said. "I'm so used to it."

As the team worked through the calves and made their way to the barn for milking, they became more comfortable with their surroundings. They each put on a pair of milking gloves and each took a responsibility: switching cows, predipping, wiping, attaching the milking units, taking off the units, postdipping and moving the units from cow to cow.

"They didn't really know what to do, but our cows are tame so they didn't have to worry," Amanda said.

The women also had Amanda and her dad keeping a watchful eye.

"All of them reached under the cows really slow and if a cow would wiggle a little, they would jump back," Randy said. "But I was surprised that they would still go back in and try again. I expected them to be more nervous."

Chores were followed by a homemade meal before the group of eight went back to SCSU.

"That was enough time on the farm for any of them," Amanda said. "Some fell asleep on the way back and that was only a half day of work."

But that short time was enough for Reyan Robinson from Becker, Minn., to appreciate the dairy farm lifestyle.

"I never put any thought to where milk comes from. Now when I drink milk I think, 'Amanda's family could have made this,'" she said.

The hard work the Wagners displayed made a lasting impression on the women.

"After we left they said they couldn't work that hard," Amanda said. "Most of them have summer jobs and then lay out by the lake."

But the visit really meant something to some of the women who repeatedly ask Amanda if there is anything new on the farm. One teammate said she and her dad want to come for a whole weekend.

Amanda had another opportunity to demonstrate the skills she learned from the dairy farm in one of her speech classes. The assignment was to give an identity speech, explaining how she developed into the person she is today.

She chose to talk about her farm life. She first highlighted respect because she has respected the time her mom and dad put into the farm. Responsibility included getting up in the morning and getting her chores done before school and after practices. Her third point was hard work in which she emphasized picking rock and baling hay. Some of those rigorous days included picking rock for five hours straight or handling 2,000 bales of hay. Most importantly she highlighted the opportunity to work together with her family.

Many of the skills she learned from the farm have made her a stronger basketball player, both physically and mentally.

Despite standing only 5' 9" Amanda plays one of the post positions for the Huskies. Playing post can be quite physical, as Amanda found out a few weeks ago when she was hit in the nose shortly before halftime. The nose wouldn't stop bleeding and started to swell, but that didn't deter Amanda from wanting to be on the court.

"I stuck cotton up my nose and started the second half like I normally would," she said.

She said she didn't cry and compared it to summertime baling and being hit on the head while unloading wagons.

"You can't just step off the wagon and start crying. You have to battle back," Amanda said.

These are some of the traits her teammates and coaches admire most about her.

"Hard work comes out in all aspects of Amanda so we wanted to know where it came from," said teammate Morgan Lof, from Detroit Lakes, Minn.

But Amanda directs this praise to her 18 years growing up on the farm.

"Mom and dad always tell me to be thankful for living on a farm," Amanda said. "I got to be with my family. I saw them working hard and it made me want to work hard, too."[[In-content Ad]]


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