The Minnesota Youth Athletic Services, Inc. (MYAS) was organized in 1991 as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization dedicated to improving the delivery of youth sports services to young athletes, coaches and parents. The MYAS is Minnesota's largest multi-sport organization focused solely on youth athletics with more than 150,000 kids participating in our programs annually. The MYAS is a central clearinghouse for youth sports, serving as an information channel linking hundreds of youth associations, coaches, and thousands of parents.
- To promote sportsmanship, teamwork and cultural interaction through sporting competition
- To provide the highest quality athletic programs for Minnesota's young people
- To link regional volunteer youth sports programs with others statewide
We believe that participation in athletics is one of the healthiest and most cost-effective options for helping young people make good choices about life's many decisions. Youth athletics, with its significant volunteer base, taps into the best that American culture has to offer. When conducted properly, athletics help young people:
- set goals that are worthy of their time, energy and focus.
- achieve a sense of accomplishment and self-esteem and learn valuable leadership skills.
- establish personal standards of excellence.
- unite in group goals and common commitment.
- build skills in empathy, humility, generosity and compassion.
- learn life lessons both on and off the field of play.
Daniel Klinkhammer, Co-Founder
Dan Klinkhammer co-founded the MYAS in 1991 and he served as the Executive Director from 1994 to 2019. Dan’s previous work experience includes: Youth Director for the Winona YMCA; Community Services Director for the City of Pipestone, MN; City Recreation Director for Winona, MN; and Program Director for the Minnesota Sports Federation. Over the past 28 years, his leadership has transformed the MYAS from a fledgling 3-person operation into the largest statewide youth sports organization in the nation with over 150,000 participants annually. In 2013, he created the Wisconsin Sports Services and in 2015, he was the visionary behind the creation of Trusted Coaches. In 2017, Dan began the process of creating Trusted Officials. His focus has always been to conduct a variety of quality sporting events for Minnesota and Wisconsin youth sport participants AND to provide educational and administrative services to the thousands of parent volunteer organizations that we serve. He has always attributed his success and understanding of youth sports to the fact that he was an athlete, a coach, a parent, an official, and a program administrator. He also recognizes the fact that he was blessed to be surrounded by a very talented and dedicated staff along with an unselfish and like-minded Board of Directors. Dan retired in the spring of 2019 but continues to serve as a volunteer on the MYAS Board of Directors. When not volunteering his time for some worthy cause, he spends his days chasing turkeys, deer, walleyes and golf balls!
Dawson N. Blanck, Executive Director
Dawson has been with the Minnesota Youth Athletic Services since 1999 and was promoted to Executive Director on April 1, 2019. From 1999-2015, he held the position of MYAS/Gopher State Senior Baseball Director and Commissioner of the Gopher State Baseball League, a traveling baseball program for 9-19 year olds. He also held the position of Minnesota USSSA State Baseball Director from 2006-2016 and is a founding member of Play Ball! MN through the Minnesota Twins Community Fund. During his tenure at the MYAS, he created a year-round comprehensive baseball program which includes the Gopher State Baseball League (GSBL) and the Gopher State Tournament of Champions. In 2015, he became Executive Director of Trusted Coaches and launched this online risk management and coach development solution for youth sports organizations. Since its inception, 285 organizations have joined the mission of Trusted Coaches. Dawson is a 1999 graduate of Concordia University, St. Paul. He played collegiate tennis and football at Central Lakes College and Concordia University. Dawson also coached high school varsity football from 1999-2009 and 2011-2017. He has also officiated high school varsity basketball since 2001 and is a member of Gopher State Officials Association. He was nominated to officiate in the MSHSL State Basketball Tournament from 2011-2013 and 2017-2019, including the Class AAA State Championship game in 2019. Away from the MYAS and his other activities, you can find Dawson enjoying time with his wife Michelle, son Landon, daughter Kylin, step-son Connor and step-daughter Anna, as well as participating in as many sporting functions and events as time permits.
Dara Northfield, Chief Financial Officer
Dara joined the MYAS staff in 1998. Dara has a background in small business and accounting. Since 1998, Dara has watched MYAS expand its reach across Minnesota and Wisconsin. "It has been a pleasure to be part of a non-profit organization that supports youth athletics in Minnesota and Wisconsin. I believe youth athletics are an important contributor to becoming a well-rounded adult and I consider it an honor to contribute to that mission." The MYAS staff is a hands-on group, so you might see Dara directing a basketball tournament or working at a coaches' meeting. Dara is married, has 3 grown children and 5 grandchildren. She is looking forward to time that she will get to sit on the bleachers to cheer on her grandchildren.
Richard Penick, Associate Director/Director of Basketball
Rich has been with the Minnesota Youth Athletic Services since 1995. Over the years, Rich has been a Program Coordinator, had a short stint as the company's accountant, Senior Program Director and recently was promoted to Associate Director and is also the Director of Basketball. He also served as the AAU's National Vice-Chair for their junior golf program for seven years. He has seen astonishing growth in all MYAS programs. As an example, basketball has grown from less than a hundred teams to well over a 1,500. Rich is a 1981 graduate of Duluth East High School where he was a three-sport letter winner in football, baseball and hockey. He played college hockey at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire where he graduated with a double major in Health and Physical Education with a coaching minor. Rich was a member of the 1983-84 NAIA National Hockey Championship team and finished his playing career as the leading scorer in Blue-Gold history. He has been heavily involved with coaching various youth and high school sports since 1986. Rich and his wife, Mary, have two sons. Rich says, "Life used to revolve around our children's sports schedules, but I wouldn't change any of it as we were able to share some great times with our children. While those days were filled with great memories, it sure is nice that they are both done playing and we're not running 24/7 to all their games and practices. Now, we look forward to going to our grandchildren's games."
Jeremy Innes, Associate Director
Jeremy joined the MYAS staff in February of 2002 after fellow Brainerd alum and current MYAS employee Dawson Blanck informed him of a job opening. Jeremy's primary duties at the MYAS have been focused primarily on the wrestling and basketball programs. He is a graduate of Brainerd High School and went on to earn his A.A. degree from Central Lakes Community College. He continued his studies at Minnesota State University, Moorhead where he earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Health. Prior to joining the MYAS staff, Jeremy completed his internship at the Brainerd Parks and Recreation Department where he began working as a seasonal employee when he was 12 years old. When Jeremy is not working, he enjoys spending time with his wife Jessica and daughters Ellie and Kendall.
Dan Craighead, Director of Business Development
Dan joined the MYAS in September of 2006. He is responsible for selling and servicing corporate sponsorships and donations. Dan was a member of the Minnesota Twins ticket sales staff from 1999-2006 where he was a leader in generating group ticket sales. Prior to his position with the Twins, he held sales positions with the Minnesota Vikings and Valleyfair. In 1993 he was the third person hired by the St. Paul Saints and worked there for four seasons as Director of Advertising Sales. Dan graduated from the University of St. Thomas with a Bachelor's Degree in Operations Management. Dan, his wife Cindy, and their children Ben and Sarah reside in Eagan. Golf and rock-n-roll music are two of his main interests.
Eric Rathke, Senior Program Director/Trusted Coaches Production Manager
Eric has been with MYAS since 1997. He implements and coordinates one of the country's largest youth travelling basketball tournaments, the MYAS Grade State Basketball Championships. He is also an MYAS assistant gambling manager. Eric states that one of the strengths of the MYAS team is that they assist each other with their programs to make them the best. As an example, he helps with baseball and other basketball operations in addition to his own programs. He brings a love for all sports and a desire to provide them to youth athletes across Minnesota. Eric graduated with a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Communications from Concordia University, St. Paul, where he was a four-year starter on the football team. Eric and his wife Erin love being parents to their children Maddox and Jade.
Siri Forde, Office Manager/Director of Human Resources
Siri joined the staff of the Minnesota Youth Athletic Services in January of 1991 at the invitation of former Executive Director, Dan Klinkhammer. She began her college education in Traverse City, Michigan, and later transferred to Concordia College, Moorhead, where she graduated cum laude with a major in English Writing and a minor in Business Administration. Siri's early career was in the health care field, having worked in nursing homes in Minnesota and Michigan. She also spent more than a year with the Minnesota Sports Federation. While Siri has served in a number of capacities during her years at the MYAS, her current duties consist primarily of serving as office manager, human resources, assistant gambling manager and editor of the MYAS Update e-newsletter.
Buddy Hemric, Director of IT/Officials Coordinator
Buddy joined the MYAS in 1996 as the Associate Director after working in the aircraft industry for more than 19 years. At the present time he is in charge of the Official's Training programs and the technical aspects of MYAS operations. Buddy grew up in Winston-Salem, NC and moved to Florida where he met his wife Kathy. They have two boys, Rick and Leigh, three grandchildren, Taylor, Bud and Madelyn, and a Siberian husky named Harley. In the past 30 years Buddy has officiated football and baseball. He has also officated in-house, traveling, high school and college level basketball. Over the years he has coached boys' and girls' basketball, including his sons' and recently his grandson's teams. In his spare time he enjoys working on and riding his Harley and watching his grandchildren grow up.
Kevin Wilson, Senior Program Director
Kevin is a native of Cedar Rapids, IA, where he graduated from Washington Senior High School. He received a full athletic scholarship to play basketball for the University of North Dakota. He had a very successful career at UND, receiving the Freshman of the Year award and a varsity letter his junior year. During his college summer months, Kevin coached basketball and worked local high school basketball camps in North Dakota. He graduated in 1987 with a Bachelor of Science degree in Parks and Recreation with an emphasis in Leadership. After college, Kevin moved to the Twin Cities area and worked for six years as a Manager for U.S. Swim and Fitness. He moved on to work for the Minneapolis nonprofit YouthCARE (Youth for Culture Appreciation and Racial Equality) for five years as the Urban Program Director, planning and developing recreation programs, leadership and educational activities, sports and special events. He also planned and led diversity workshops, leadership conferences and retreats. Kevin continues to be very active in sports and also spends a lot of time training his young son.
Pat Reese, Director of Baseball/GSBL Commissioner
Pat started at MYAS in February of 2013. His primary responsibilities as Program Director are baseball, wrestling and starting the MYAS's newest program of flag football. He graduated from the University of Minnesota with a Bachelor of Science Degree in Recreation, Park and Leisure in August 2010. Prior to joining MYAS, Pat worked for different city recreation departments doing a variety of youth, teen and community programming. When Pat is not working he enjoys coaching youth sports, playing basketball and volleyball, taking his boat out on the lake, and spending time with his wife Kaitlin and dog Kevin.
Debbie Dahl, Charitable Gambling Manager
Debbie has been involved in charitable gaming for 22 years. She began working for MYAS in 2004 as a site manager, moved up to assistant gambling manager in 2007, and became gambling manager in June 2009. Debbie enjoys spending time with her husband and two girls, Ashley and Amanda.
Bobby Strickland, Program Director
Bobby started at MYAS in April 2012 as an intern. His primary responsibilities as Program Director are baseball and swimming. He graduated from North Dakota State University with a degree in Sports and Recreation Management. When Bobby is not working he enjoys winning basketball games against his co-workers and gets out fishing whenever he gets the chance.
Angela Walczak, Program Director
Angela started at MYAS in April of 2015. Her primary responsibilities as Program Director are girls’ basketball and swimming. She graduated from UW-La Crosse with Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in Recreation Management. Prior to working at the MYAS, Angela worked in various city park and recreation departments and also in community education. When Angela is not working, she enjoys spending time with her family, playing and watching sports, and being outdoors.
ANNA BIRKELAND, ADMINISTRATIVE ASSISTANT/RECEPTIONIST
Anna joined the MYAS staff in May of 2018 and is the first point of contact for incoming calls and visitors to our office. Before coming to the Minnesota Youth Athletic Services, Anna was an administrative assistant for a nonprofit adult mental health organization. She graduated from White Bear Lake High School, and her favorite sports to participate in are basketball and softball. When she is away from work, Anna enjoys spending time with family and friends, taking the boat out for some fishing, or enjoying Minnesota’s beautiful wilderness areas.
MATT DAVID, Program Director
Matt joined MYAS in November 2018. Matt’s mainly responsible for baseball as well as some media management. Prior to working at MYAS, Matt worked for the Town of Erie (CO) in their Parks and Recreation department programming sports and working in department administration. He has a Bachelor’s degree in Recreation Management and minor in Business Administration from the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse. Outside of work, Matt’s main passions include: his family, exploring nature, reading, current events, and the Colorado Avalanche.
CLARENCE FIELDS, Trusted Coaches National Sales Director
Clarence is the newest member of the MYAS/Trusted Coaches staff since December 2018. His primary responsibility is to create more impressions of the Trusted Coaches brand through the state of Minnesota and across the country. Prior to joining the MYAS staff, Clarence brought his unique skill sets to Life Time Fitness in 2010. During his two and a half years he played a pivotal role in developing their Ultimate Hoops Skills and Development program before leaving in 2013 to launch CRF Sports Academy to fulfill his vision of developing training concepts for basketball and baseball players as well as the associations that serve them. When Clarence is not working, he enjoys attending church (Cross of Glory, Hopkins), spending time with his two sons, Henriq (4) and Larson (3), traveling and playing golf.
Maggie Tsui, Assistant Charitable Gambling Manager
Prior to working with MYAS, Maggie worked in the food and hospitality industry for 19 years in various roles. In June of 2016, she was asked to work with the charitable gambling department in one of their locations. In January 2019, she accepted a promotion into the role of assistant gambling manager, going full-time in February. Outside of work, Maggie enjoys spending time with her family and friends, shooting billiards, flexing her creative muscle in various mediums, going for nature hikes and rock climbing when it is possible.