My guess is most of you haven't been to South Dakota before. There's Mount Rushmore on the west end, and Sioux Falls on the east, and 350 miles of farm and ranch land in between. With under a million people, we have just one U.S. representative for the whole state. Several presidents spent significant down time here. And celebrities and east coast big wigs come here annually for the hunting and fishing. Don't let the "south" deceive you. South Dakota is a northern state that gets really cold in the winter. In December and January, the morning work commute is in the dark, and the evening commute is as well. Because it's a rural state and outdoor activities/sports can only happen seven months out of the year, South Dakota hasn't produced a lot of professional athletes. This series is to spotlight those South Dakotans who made it all the way to the pros in their sport.
South Dakota is so sparsely populated that the whole state has one area code. If you accidentally dialed the wrong phone number, chances are you would still know the person who answers. Well OK, it's not quite that bad. But it is true that you could easily play the Six Degrees of Separation from Kevin Bacon game between any two South Dakotans. In fact, you'd rarely ever need that many degrees to connect two of us.
With Mike Miller's retirement from the NBA, Adam Vinatieri might very well be the most famous current professional athlete from South Dakota. It's either him or Brock Lesnar. Here are my first four degrees of separation from Adam Vinatieri.
I don't know Adam Vinatieri. I've never met him. I've maybe seen him from a distance once. Keep reading for the details. I guess you could say I don't know Adam from Adam.
My wife graduated from high school with Adam. It was Rapid City Central High School and the year was 1991. Yes, there is still an active NFL player who graduated from high school in 1991! She didn't know him very well.
Since Adam and I are the same age, and since I had lots of friends who attended South Dakota State University, Adam and I have several mutual friends and acquaintances that way.
Adam's sister is my district's state representative in Pierre.
Adam was born in Yankton, SD. I assume he was born in the one hospital there. My parents were also born there.
My wife's friend from high school is still good friends with Adam. She said he visits at least once a year.
My parents have a lake home that is five docks down the shore from Adam's sister. The rumor on the lake this past 4th of July was that Adam was there at his sister's to celebrate. I think I might have seen him there when I was taking a boat ride.
Adam's sister is married to a local realtor who was a tennis teammate of my brother's. An interesting fact about this brother-in-law of Adam's is that he dated the actress January Jones (X-Men) in high school.
Adam's nephew also plays football for South Dakota State. He attended a nearby local high school and I saw him play in several games. I was present his senior year at the state championship game when he was playing wide receiver.
I think it goes without saying that Adam Vinatieri is a future hall of famer. He's made many many clutch field goals in Super Bowls and other big games. Here's a link to my favorite game of his. (the "tuck rule" game, two huge field goals in the snow) And here's my very favorite play. Does anybody remember these?
What a career! He has made South Dakotans proud for many years.