Author: Ben Kopnick

William Sawalich recently signed a three-year deal with Joe Gibbs Racing that begins in 2023. Submitted photo For seven years, Eden Prairie native William Sawalich has been darting around racetracks all over the country, driving cars that routinely travel at triple-digit speeds. He just became eligible for his Minnesota driver’s license in October. The 16-year-old race car driver had a strong 2022 season, registering 15 wins across various racing series. Those accomplishments helped him land a three-year deal with Joe Gibbs Racing, one of the most successful racing teams in the NASCAR Cup Series, the highest level of stock car…

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Meaghan Pezon concentrates on the puck at a recent Minnesota Whitecaps practice. Photo courtesy of Sam Silver/Minnesota Whitecaps With more than a decade of experience as a professional hockey player, it stands to reason that Eden Prairie native Meaghan Pezon has seen a lot: leagues that folded, blinding snowstorms during van trips to away games, home arenas without a permanent locker room for her team. Meaghan Pezon Today, her team plays in a more stable league, flies to away games, and recently moved into an arena that has a locker room it can call its own. Through it all, Pezon…

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Mike Max said he learned a lot about being a reporter from the late Sid Hartman. “To be a great reporter is just fundamental; it’s not fancy, you know,” he said. “It’s fundamental. Show up, show up, show up.” Photo by Ben Kopnick It’s midday in downtown Minneapolis, and Mike Max’s curiosity is on full display. Listen to him conversing with people on the sidewalks, people he sees every day — the curiosity is there. Watch him taking in the answers as he talks with members of an organization hired by the city of Minneapolis to help curb violent crime…

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Fantasy football pioneer Paul Charchian has dealt with plenty of pressure in his professional life. As a side job, he started a magazine to fill a hole in a growing industry. Three decades later, he has to figure out how to stand out in that same industry, now saturated with competitors. Growing up in Eden Prairie, pressure involved scrounging up 25 cents. “I would walk up to Eden Prairie Center,” said Charchian, who now lives in Plymouth. “If I could find a quarter, I would walk up to Aladdin’s Castle [an arcade]. If I could just get one quarter together…

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Cade Kramer knew he needed an elective course to fulfill his graduation requirements, so he took a painting class. He didn’t know that his choice would help change the course of his life. Cade Kramer poses with his painting called “Always Alive.” Photos by Ben Kopnick In the fall of 2020, Kramer was again in a familiar place — lining up as a wide receiver for the Eden Prairie Eagles’ football team. The senior team captain excelled on the field, leading the Eagles to an undefeated 7-0 season and earning All-State honors from the Associated Press. He accepted a scholarship…

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The clacking of captured queens, rooks and bishops filled the Central Middle School lunchroom on Saturday, April 23, a rhythm interrupted by checkmates, pizza and dodgeball. The occasion was the Southwestern Metro Chess Championship, which brought together more than 100 young chess enthusiasts from 60 metro area schools to test their skills and have fun. The tournament consisted of three divisions — kindergartners and first graders, second and third graders, and fourth and fifth graders — with the players competing for individual and team prizes. But the day was about more than the chess competition. “I like that we focus…

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