Mabel-Canton's Lonnie Morken, St. Charles' Scott McCready up for national awards

Feb. 9—Lonnie Morken has been Mabel-Canton's volleyball coach the past 30 years, Scott McCready the St. Charles' actitivies director the last 23 years.

Both have forever been recognized as among the best in Minnesota in their fields.

But never has the recognition been quite as lofty as now. Morken and McCready have been named top-eight national finalists by the National High School Athletic Coaches Association as volleyball coach and athletic director, respectively.

The NHSACA will unveil its national coaching and athletic director winners June 26 in a ceremony in Bismarck, N.D. Morken and McCready, both Luther College graduates, will be in attendance.

"It's an honor to be nominated," said the 52-year-old Morken, whose Mabel-Canton volleyball teams have reached the state tournament the last two seasons. "I never thought I'd get past the original nomination process."

The 56-year-old McCready was similarly thrilled to get this far in the process.

"It's humbling and very exciting," said McCready, who found out in November that he was Minnesota's athletic director nominee. Morken got news in December that the Minnesota High School Coaches Association had picked him as the state's national volleyball nominee.

The awards being handed out are for this year, though what coaches and athletic directors have done throughout their careers is also factored in.

It was this week that they were informed of being among the top eight finalists for their respective national awards.

Both Morken and McCready have a long list of accomplishments.

Here are some of Morken's highlights:

—A won-loss record of 829-144 at Mabel-Canton.

—Third all-time in Minnesota in career volleyball wins with 829.

—Twenty-six straight Southeast Conference championships.

—Four trips to the state tournament, with a fifth-place finish in 2000, third place in 2001, third place in 2022 and fourth place in 2023.

—This past season, Mabel-Canton finished 36-3.

—Named to the Minnesota Volleyball Coaches Association Hall of Fame in 2011 and the Minnesota State High School Coaches Association Hall of Fame in 2023.

Here are some of McCready's highlights. He has also been the St. Charles head baseball coach since 1990, was the Minnesota State High School League Board President from 2014-15 and its vice president from 2013-14, has been a Region 1A board member since 2003, and has been tournament manager for countless section events:

—Section 1AA Baseball Coach of the Year, 2005.

—Minnesota State Boys Basketball Coaches Association Assistant Coach of the Year, 2002.

—Region 1A Athletic Director of the Year, 2006, 20020.

—Minnesota State High School Baseball Coaches Association inaugural Craig Anderson Ethics In Coaching Award winner, 2015.

Morken attributes much of his success to those who have surrounded him in the Mabel-Canton volleyball program and points out that winning programs have a multitude of things going their way.

"I have been blessed with great parents and great players," Morken said. "To win, you have to have a good coach, some talented players and you have to have great parents who are interested in the success of their kids. It won't happen if you don't have all three."

As for McCready, it's his undying zest for the job that has led to his greatness.

Simply, he relishes solving the puzzle that is constanly in front of him as an activities director. Putting all of the pieces together and making things work as seamlessly as possible is where he finds his satisfaction.

"I really like the tasks of the job," McCready said. "It's fun and it's exciting. I appreciate my role, doing things to support coaches and seeing them succeed."