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Tech’s ‘super fan’

   St. Cloud Tech High School’s biggest football fan has only missed a handful of games since 1976. Five, to be exact. In fact, he has only missed one home game since 1967, his junior year in high school. He has kept a record of the final scores of each game since the 1970s, and, in case you want to know, Tech’s record is 2-3 when he’s missed games. During these past decades, Mike Dombrovski of St. Cloud has had an important role at the home football games at Clark Field, south of the downtown area.  Wearing his orange and black jersey or letter jacket and a couple of dozen buttons, you could usually find him and, of course, hear him, cheering on the Tigers from the bleachers on the east end of the field. “Where, oh where, is the Tiger team, down in the locker room, picking up steam”  is one of Dombrovski’s pre-game cheers. He remembers it from high school days. He graduated in 1970. “It was the biggest class in Tech history,” he said. “It had 780 graduates.” That was the final year before Apollo High School was opened on the north end of town and when high school kids in St. Cloud started going in different directions to attend school. Apollo and Tech teams have had a great crosstown rivalry since then. Dombrovski is proud of being a Tech grad and he said he wouldn’t have been happy if he’d have had to attend Apollo like his younger sister, Carol. He didn’t play sports in high school. He was strictly a fan. In 1977, the school newspaper featured Dombrovski in an article, and that is where he got the nickname “Tech Superfan”. “Superfan” has been a fixture at Tech football games since the 60’s, but an even bigger fixture is the historic stadium where the games have been played—Clark Field. It was built in 1942 as a Works Project Administration project during the Great Depression and has been home to Tech Tigers football for seven decades. It has been described as one of the best venues for high school football.  Fans, sitting just yards away from the playing field, love being so close to the action. “Clark Field has been my second home,” said Dombrovski. “The way it was designed protects you from the wind and cold and I also like the way the concrete bleachers absorb the sun’s heat during the day. They’re not so cold like the aluminum bleachers at other fields.” The news in early September that Clark Field would be closed for the rest of the season, for safety reasons, was met with sadness and disappointment by students, and alumni, and football fans everywhere. Dombrovski, too, felt depressed by the news. There has been talk about renovating or replacing Clark Field for years. But, this fall, officials determined that deteriorating conditions caused by mold and water damage to parts of the facility, made it unsafe and they moved all home varsity events to SCSU’s Husky Stadium. So, on Sept. 14, the first home game of the season, Dombrovski watched the Tigers take on Grand Rapids. He admits it was strange to watch his team play at Husky Stadium and that he didn’t feel much like cheering that night. But he did put a sign up at the south end of the field—We are here but our hearts are at Clark Field.  He is hopeful that Clark Field can reopen eventually. Dombrovski depends on others to get him to his “Superfan spot” in the bleachers. His dad, also a Tech graduate, drives him to home games and he gets a ride home with friends. “I don’t drive,” he said. “I have epilepsy and I’ve never had a car. So Dad brings me to games that are close by. He doesn’t stay anymore because he doesn’t like to drive at night.” In Dombrovski’s opinion, Tech’s biggest rival is Brainerd. He adds, “Brainerd is always tough because their coach knows how to play the game. After a game, I like to go onto the field and talk to Ron.”  Ron is the well-known head coach, Ron Stolski, who has coached for over 50 years, 38 of them at Brainerd High School. In a conference game in September, Brainerd beat Tech 42-28. Dombrovski is well-known by coaches and officials in the area and throughout the state. He has been interviewed on TV and has been quoted often by reporters. He admits too that he has been asked to quiet down from time to time. Besides football, Dombrovski is also a huge fan of Tech basketball, following both the boys and girls teams. He used to follow hockey before they moved their games to SCSU and he has followed wrestling in the past before girl’s basketball began. Of all of the Tech athletes he’s watched and cheered for over the years, there are a number that stand out to Dombrovski. One was Nate Wolters, who plays for the South Dakota State University Jackrabbits these days.   “He was the best basketball player in Tech history, in my opinion. I told him he can go pro. You could rely on him for free throws, defense, best all-around player.”  Wolters, who graduated in 2009, was the all-time leading scorer in school history with 1,767 points. When asked if admission fees to the games have gone up since the 70s, Dombrovski paused, “Yes, but, about 10 years ago, I was given a lifetime pass for all regular season home games.” Dombrovski’s contributions have been recognized a number of times. One of his most meaningful memories was when he was presented with a letter jacket, a hat and gloves at the football banquet following the 1997 season when Tech went to the state play-offs.  He said he was speechless when the team presented the gifts to him. “Another shocker was in 2008 when I got the Ron Kaczor Friend of Football award. I was the third person ever to receive the award.” Ron Kaczor had been Tech’s football coach for 11 years when he was diagnosed with cancer in the fall of 2005. He died the following May.  His wife, Ruth, said, “Mike has been such a dedicated football fan for Tech over the years and the kids really appreciate him and his support.” In addition to cheering on the Tigers, Dombrovski spent 30 years working for Perkins in Sauk Rapids. He is now working part-time at Cashwise. He is also on his parish church council and the Tech alumni board. So, with or without Clark Field, you can count on two things: the Tech Tigers will continue to play football and “Superfan” will continue to sit in the bleachers and lead the cheers.

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