Hulne: Awesome Blossoms are inspired and motivated for Prep Bowl

Published 8:33 pm Wednesday, November 20, 2019

It’s been six years since I first head about Anthony Nelson. I was working on the preview for the Blooming Prairie football team when head coach Chad Gimbel suddenly got a glimmer in his eye as he spoke of his excitement about the potential of Nelson, who had yet to establish himself as an athlete.

Nelson went on to a spectacular career on and off the field for BP. He scored 15 TDs and racked up 122 tackles and four interceptions for Awesome Blossoms football that went to state in 2015 and averaged he 18 points per game for the Blossoms basketball team in the 2015-2016 basketball season. He finished with 1,000 career points.

The entire town of BP was hit with a shocking jolt when Nelson passed away in a car crash this summer and it wasn’t just because he was a great athlete. Nelson was a leader, a mentor and an inspiration anyone who wanted to learn from him.

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In BP, and many small town communities like it, high school sports go well beyond high school. Varsity players appear larger than life to elementary students who catch a glimpse of them in the hallways, they are role models to the junior high students who are looking to match their feats, and they are respected and honored throughout all of the local businesses in town. When BP senior lineman Jarrett Larson spoke of the “Blossom way” after the state semifinal win over Ada-Borup, he was talking about a program that welcomes kids of any age to come out on play in the summer months and he was speaking of the brotherhood of Blossom football that includes anyone who’s ever donned the black and white on a Friday night.

Blooming Prairie’s Charlie Heimerman reaches out to Ada-Borup’s Brady Borgen on a kick-off return in the Minnesota State Class A Football Tournament semifinals Saturday at US Bank Stadium. Eric Johnson/

As I’ve watched BP put together it’s run to its first ever Prep Bowl these past few weeks, I’ve seen a lot of Nelson’s influences on the team’s play. Whenever the Blossoms run a quick screen to Gabe Hagen or Alex Baldwin that leads to big yards, it mirrors to when Nelson used to make the same type of play. Whenever Zach Weber or Karson Vigeland break up a deep ball or put on a big hit, it is a reflection of the way Nelson used to play the secondary.

But most of all, whenever a BP player lifts up a teammate or talks him through a struggle, I think of Nelson. Nelson’s legacy is clear and obvious with these Blossoms. They dedicated the season to him this past summer and they have certainly done him well.

When BP takes on BOLD in the state title game on Nov. 29, they will have plenty of motivation in the present and more than enough inspiration from the past.

If things go right, Gimbel may rediscover that glimmer in his eye.