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Dawson 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 the online risk management and coach development solution for youth sports organizations. Under his direction, over 300 organizations 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 been a registered official with the Minnesota State High School League (MSHSL) since 2001 and is a proud member of Gopher State Officials Association. He was nominated to officiate the MSHSL State Basketball Tournament from 2011-2013 and 2017-2022, including the honor or officiating in the Class AAA State Championship game in 2019. Officiating has always been a passion and he is committed to recruiting, educating and retaining the next generation of youth and high school officials. He has also been a head coach or assistant coach for his son, daughter and step-son in basketball, baseball and soccer over the past ten years. During the 2021-2022 winter community based traveling basketball season, he volunteered as an assistant coach for the Irondale 8th Grade Girls Basketball team. You can also catch him on Wednesday's and Sunday's as the lead male vocalist of the Reigning Grace Worship Team at Abiding Savior Lutheran Church in Mounds View, MN. He also serves as the President of the Church Council 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, step-daughter Anna, Oliver Rudy (Boston Terrier), family and friends, as well as participating in as many sporting functions and events as time permits.

Dara Northfield, CFO/Director of Finance

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- Administrator

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- Operations

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 family.

Dan Craighead, MYAS & WSS 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, Manager- Baseball, Grade State & Football

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.

Adam Klinkhammer, Director-Trusted Coaches, MYAS/WSS Brand Manager

Adam grew up in Blaine, MN playing Football and Baseball while attending Blaine High School. After graduating from St. Cloud University with his degree in Sports Management, Adam served as a Program Director at the Minnesota Youth Athletic Services primarily working in the sport of Baseball.  In 2013, he and his brother Lance took on the responsibility of creating the Wisconsin Sports Services (WSS) and acted in the role of Associate Director for the organization until March 2020 when the pandemic forced a return to the MYAS mothership in Minnesota.  Adam currently serves as Director of Trusted Coaches and Operations Manager for both the MYAS and WSS. When Adam is not working you can usually find him hitting sweet bombs on the softball field or looking for his golf balls at a local course.

Lance Klinkhammer, Associate Director- Programs

Lance joined the Wisconsin Sports Services at its beginning in 2013 and currently serves as the Associate Director and program lead for all Basketball, Baseball and Fastpitch programs. Lance grew up in Blaine, Minnesota where he grew up playing a variety of different sports including Football and Baseball. After graduating from St. Cloud University with his degree in Sports Management Lance worked for the Minnesota Youth Athletic Services for 3 years prior to taking on the role of the Associate Director of the Wisconsin Sports Services.  Lance is currently serving in the role of Commissioner for the Gopher State Baseball League and also the Director of the Midwest Wrestling Tour.  When Lance is not working you can either find him at a local softball field or fishing.

Kevin Wilson, Manager- Basketball

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.

Siri Forde, Office Manager/HR Coordinator

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 coordinator, assistant gambling manager, and assistant to the CFO.

Debbie Dahl, Charitable Gambling Sr. Manager

Debbie has been involved in charitable gaming for 33 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, Rising Stars Sports Academy Director/Baseball Manager

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.

Ashlie Anzel, Basketball Sr. Manager

Ashlie joined the MYAS staff in January of 2020 and focuses primarily on basketball programs. Ashlie is a 2004 graduate of Spring Lake Park High School, where she was a multi-sport athlete competing in volleyball, basketball, and softball. She went on to earn a Bachelor of Arts in Education from Augustana College, where she was also a member of the women’s basketball team. In 2019 she graduated from Ohio University with a Master of Science in Athletic Administration. Ashlie has been involved in coaching youth and high school sports since graduating from college in 2009 and is enjoying the opportunity to coach her oldest daughter in both basketball and softball. Ashlie resides in White Bear Lake with her husband, Joe, and daughters Tenley and Alexis. In her free time, she enjoys trips to the cabin, golfing, and spending time with her family.

Tony Schrepfer, Sr. Manager of Officiating Services

Sports and athletics have been a part of my life for as long as I can remember. I raced competitive BMX for about six years and then got back into playing team sports. When I finally realized that my best playing days were behind me, I found my passion for becoming an official. I still wanted to be a part of the game and officiating gave me that avenue. I’ve been calling games for over 30 years now and am still currently active officiating in the sports of Basketball, Baseball, Soccer and Fast Pitch. I accepted the duties and responsibilities of the MYAS Director of Officials with the ultimate goal of infusing excitement in becoming an official. Just as being a player has it’s certain demands, executing the role of an official brings with it its own challenges and rewards. With on-court training, proper mechanics and rules knowledge any official can go as far as they would like in this profession. When I envision the future of officiating at the MYAS, I see a new generation of officials that not only want to give back to the game and still be an important part of it but also hone the craft of officiating and ascend the ranks. I'm very passionate about being an official and I want to change the perception of what being an official looks like and what it feels like. Right now, is a great time to start your officiating career and with our help here at the MYAS we'll help you achieve your goals! Remember… I'm one of you. Officials working on behalf of officials!

Akua Kennedy, Community Engagement Director/Basketball Manager

Born and raised in Minneapolis, Akua graduated from North Community High School in 1992, and attended Mississippi Valley State University before returning home and working for the Boys & Girls Club of the Twin Cities as Teen Director. The passion for working with youth led Akua to Minneapolis Public Schools as a Behavior Dean and Athletic Director, where he stayed for 17 years until joining the MYAS family in January of 2022. With Akua’s background growing up and working in Minneapolis, it was a perfect situation for him to join the team in the role as community engagement director.

Adam Cook, Program Manager

Adam, a former participant in MYAS athletics, grew up in New Hope, MN and attended Robbinsdale Cooper High School where he was a 3-sport athlete in Football, Basketball, and Lacrosse, before graduating in 2018. From there he accepted a football scholarship to attend Concordia University - St. Paul, where he graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in Sport Management while working as an intern with MYAS starting in November of 2021. He will primarily serve as a program coordinator for Baseball and Basketball with supplementary roles in Football and Wrestling.

Jesse Tollefson, Baseball Manager


Jesse joined the MYAS staff in November 2022 after spending 15 years as a coach, instructor, and program director for the Minnesota Blizzard.  He grew up in Springfield, MN playing baseball, basketball, and football.  Jesse played baseball at the University of St. Thomas and graduated with a degree in Economics.  That passion for baseball and for helping youth athletes led to his first coaching gig, with Mahtomedi in the Gopher State Baseball League. Jesse will be bringing that same passion to MYAS as a program director, primarily in the baseball division.

Chris Johnson, Accountant-Bookkeeper

Chris proudly joined the MYAS Team as Accountant/Bookkeeper in February 2024. He has spent the majority of his career in the nonprofit sector, working and volunteering for several local charities. A self-proclaimed Accounting Nerd, he studied the field at Anoka Technical College and University of Minnesota, Crookston.

Chris resides within walking distance of MYAS Headquarters in Spring Lake Park with his girlfriend, and extensive Bryan Danielson memorabilia collection (for which he is still attempting to obtain a world record). As if accounting doesn’t provide enough fun in his life, his free time is spent cheering on the Minnesota Twins, attending local pro-wrestling events, and perusing the selections at trading card shows.

Bullseye Media, MYAS Marketing Partner

We are incredibly excited to partner with MYAS. As a MYAS alum myself it gives me great pride to work with the organization that taught me a great deal both on and off the field. We have several former MYAS athletes on staff and they are all excited to work with the organization that has provided many proud memories that we want to pass on to future communities, friends and our own families. 

The Bullseye team is composed of creative leaders and individuals who love sports - we have former players and coaches on our team that are dedicated to growing the MYAS brand as well as the individual programs, initiatives and the positive impact the organization has on our great state. We look forward to building a measurable strategy, memorable content and implementing a marketing system that can yield years of continued growth and success for MYAS and its programs. 

Brian Knight, CEO of Bullseye Media LLC