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, Executive Director
Dan co-founded the MYAS in 1991 and currently serves as the Executive Director. He is a Vietnam veteran and a 1976 graduate of Winona State University. Dan's previous work experiences include a short stint as the Youth Director for the Winona Family YMCA; two years as Community Services Director for the City of Pipestone, MN; ten years as City Recreation Director for Winona, MN and two years as Program Director for the Minnesota Sports Federation. In addition to his playing days, he also gained 20 years of valuable experience as a football, basketball, baseball, volleyball and softball official. He credits much of his success to the fact that he has been an athlete, coach, official, administrator and parent. That combination allows him to personally identify with everyone who participates in the various programs offered by the MYAS. Dan and his wife Karla have two sons, Adam and Lance. When he isn't at his desk or at one of our events, you'll probably find him on the water fishing, in the woods chasing deer or looking for his golf balls.
Buddy Hemric, Associate Director of IT/Officials
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.
Siri Forde, Office Manager/Editor
Siri joined the staff of the Minnesota Youth Athletic Services in January of 1991 at the invitation of current 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.
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 1 grandson. She is looking forward to time that she will get to sit on the bleachers to cheer on her grandchildren.
Richard Penick, Associate 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 and is presently the Senior Program Director. 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 thousand. 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."
Eric Rathke, Senior Program Director
Eric has been with MYAS since 1997 and is currently charged with developing the youth football program. 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 young children Maddox and Jade.
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.
Dawson Blanck, Executive Director of Trusted Coaches Verification Program
Dawson has been with the Minnesota Youth Athletic Services since 1999. For 16 years, 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 has also held the position as Minnesota USSSA State Baseball Director since March of 2006 and is a founding member of Play Ball! MN through the Minnesota Twins Community Fund. During his tenure at the MYAS, he has helped create a year-round comprehensive baseball program which includes the Gopher State Baseball League (GSBL) and the Gopher State Tournament of Champions. The GSBL has grown by nearly 400% and the Gopher State Fall Baseball League has seen an increase of nearly 4,000 participants. Dawson graduated from Concordia University, St Paul in 1999 with degrees in Kinesiology and Communications. Dawson was a former athlete, playing collegiate tennis at Central Lakes College and football at Central Lakes College and Concordia University. Dawson has also coached high school varsity football since 1999. He held the position of Offensive Coordinator at St. Agnes High School over the past three years. He has also officiated high school varsity basketball for Suburban Officials Association since 2001 and had the opportunity to officiate in the MSHSL State Basketball Tournament from 2011-2013. Away from the MYAS and his other activities, you can find Dawson enjoying time with his son Landon and his daughter Kylin as well as participating in as many sporting functions and events as time permits.
Jeremy Innes, Senior Program 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.
Anthony Groff, Senior Program Director
Anthony Groff joined the MYAS staff in 2004. His primary duties are in the baseball department and is currently the MYAS Baseball Director. Away from work he enjoys spending time with his family as well as boating, fishing and hunting whenever possible.
Debbie Dahl, 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.
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.
Pat Reese, Program Director
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.
Bobby Strickland, Program Coordinator
Bobby started at MYAS in April 2012 as an intern. His primary responsibilities as Program Coordinator 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 Coordinator
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 husband and their dog, 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.